The city of Erie is seeking a way to quicken the process of code enforcement, but some people wonder if it could be a double-edged sword.
It’s called the ‘Quality of Life’ ticketing program. The proposed program would allow the Office of Code Enforcement a faster way to ticket and collect fines for existing violations without having to go through the courts.
Most of the 41 violations would result in a $25 fine. Upon first read at Erie City Council Wednesday, Councilwoman Kathy Schaaf gave the only ‘no’ vote saying that even she might fall guilty of existing violations, like not being able to shovel her sidewalk within three hours of a snowstorm.
Meanwhile, an Erie tenant named Sydney wants assurance that ticketing will be fair. “I don’t think that it’s an overreach. I think that it might disproportionately affect in impoverished areas of town rather than blight on the west side.”
Councilman Bob Merski says that the measure would address violations that are already on the books like weeds and tall grass. “So nothing has changed in terms of the ordinances that are being enforced. The only thing that’s changed is the enforcement mechanism.”
Merski says this kind of program is working in other cities of similar size. “It’s been effective in reducing blight. It’s been recommended by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in their ‘Fight Blight Book.’ And it’s something I think we need, and we have to give new things a try. We can’t do the status quo.”
Mayor Joe Schember says, “When a place is in really bad shape, those are the one we are going to after first and write those tickets; and hopefully, move things forward. And usually, I think we’ll continue to give a warning first, before a ticket’s written. If they can address the problem and correct it. They’ll be fine.”
The program proposes that if it gets to a point where further action is necessary, it would head to court.
The ‘Quality of Life’ ticketing program will head for a second reading.