Palm Coast residents find code violations more often than the national average, according to the 2017 Citizen Survey.
When visitors drive around Palm Coast and think, “This is a beautiful city! I want to move here!”, they might not realize it, but they are admiring the city’s codes.
Although it’s not fun when my own yard is criticized, I’m glad the city requires everyone to keep their yards tidy. The appearance of our city is a matter of pride for many of us.
But could some of the codes be updated? And are some people frustrated by the complaint-driven enforcement? Yes.
Here are two suggested changes, plus a new approach.
First: Expand the house color palette. Many have read about Bryan Denker, who painted his house a color of blue that was not allowed; he will now have to repaint. More than 600 comments were posted on Facebook in response to our story about Denker, who is also a veteran and a sheriff’s deputy.
Other than, apparently, the neighbor who anonymously complained about the house, I have not heard of one person who feels Denker’s color of blue is bad for the city. Neon green is too far, but surely we can be a bit more permissive on color than we are and still maintain our Palm Coastness.
Second: Allow small work vehicles in driveways. Sheriff’s Office art covers all doors of Denker’s patrol vehicle — clearly covering more than the three square feet allowed for a work vehicle if you want to keep it in your driveway. But do we really want to tell Denker he can’t park in his driveway, too? No. According to the code, an exception is given to “emergency and governmental service vehicles, while in active service.” Code Enforcement considers deputies to always be “in active service” because they are on call for emergencies. I’m not convinced that’s the intent of the wording in the code, and it should be changed. And if deputies’ heavily painted cars are fine, why not a baker’s or a real estate agent’s?
A new approach: Educate new residents more. The city already sends new residents a welcome email, which includes info on the most common code violations; hosts Citizens Academy; posts all codes on its website; and Code Enforcement Manager Barb Grossman visits civic groups to educate them. But the somewhere, there is still a disconnect. Many residents are frustrated and surprised when they are “caught.” A social media campaign from the city could help.