Miami-Dade County Code Enforcement Issues Citations Following Hurricane Irma

Miami-Dade Code Enforcement officers hit the streets just hours after hurricane Irma swept through South Florida looking for building code violations resulting from the storm. As homeowners began clean up efforts of downed trees and fences they also had to deal with warnings issued by the Miami-Dade Code Enforcement Officers. These warnings were mostly issued to repair fallen or damaged fences with permits and the department’s concern was clear (identify hazards) but their timing could not be worse. received several calls from frustrated homeowners that received warnings from the county even before they got their power back. 

“Celso Perez was helping his neighbors remove some fallen trees blocking their street when a miami-Dade county code enforcer rolled up and issued him a safety notice for having a downed fence. “I laughed,” Perez tells WSVN-TV. “I thought he was kidding. ‘You are kidding right? We just had a hurricane six hours ago.

It wasn’t a joke. The official told Perez that the downed fence—which encloses a pool—was a safety hazard, and that if it wasn’t fixed by the time he returned, Perez would be hit with a fine. The official then hung the safety citation on the portion of Perez’s fence that remained standing, leaving him and his neighbors to finish clearing the debris from their street.

According to WSVN, the county has handed out 680 safety notices for downed pool barriers, and another 177 electrical hazard safety notices.
From what can be gleaned from the WSVN story and from county code enforcement procedures, these safety notices appear to be just warnings, meaning no fines have been handed out as of yet. Reason tried to confirm this with the county as well, but was again rebuffed.
As Perez said of the day he got his ticket, “All the stores were closed. It’s not like I can go to Home Depot and find some temporary barrier.”

Even if he could, it’s quite possible that Perez and the other people handed citations might have more pressing things to do right after a hurricane than bring their homes back up to code. You know: clearing the streets, seeking medical attention, checking in on family members, trying to find food. You might think the county would have higher priorities too, like getting the lights back on for Miami-Dade’s 16,510 homes and businesses still without power.

County officials don’t see it that way. “It is important that we reach residents in the immediate aftermath of the storm,” one tells WSVN, “because that is when conditions are most dangerous, and taking steps to protect life is a critical part of the recovery process.”

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