Also, a call for residents to report code violations.
This is in response to the article “3 ways to fix code enforcement.” There are many issues with code enforcement in Palm Coast, but I think one of the major problems is with the actual enforcement of them.
For example, my husband works for a roofing company and brought his work truck home for the weekend about a year ago. The truck had no advertising that was against the rules but had a ladder rack. A nosy neighbor called on us and when code enforcement came to leave a citation on our garage, he drove past no fewer that four other commercial vehicles in driveways coming down our street, one of which was a bigger truck than my husband's and had a ladder rack as well. He didn't cite a single one of those.
Another neighbor gets cited for leaving trash cans in front of their garage door, yet the code enforcer drives right past a property only a few houses down that not only leaves trash cans out front but boxes and other refuse as well and has a broken garage door that trash is spilling out from under into the driveway. Guess what? They don't get cited.
I think the codes in Palm Coast are excessive and unfair in most situations, but if they are going to be in place, then at least enforce them fairly for everyone.
An enforcement officer should not be allowed to ignore other violations they witness in the area while singling out one house for a citation just because someone called on one and not the other.
More code enforcement, not less
Regarding your “Solutions” editorial in the April 18 Palm Coast Observer, I disagree strongly with your first two points but do concur with your third point that the city should do more to publicize Palm Code codes. I did move to Palm Coast precisely because it is a planned community and that there are codes to protect my substantial investment in my home here. I am appalled at the painted colors of several houses here that apparently are allowed by code (battleship gray, for example).
My bigger problem with the city of Palm Coast right now is lack of enforcement by the Code Enforcement department. I did a personal survey one night of cars parked in the swales and estimate that perhaps has many as 2,000 cars and trucks are parked in our swales citywide every night between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., and nothing seems to be being done about it. Sheds are built beside houses instead of in back of house and without the shrubbery required by code. Garbage cans are left in plain sight of the road rather than concealed as required by code.
We need more emphasis on code enforcement to keep our city beautiful, not less.
Do your part and report code violations
I love all the restrictions we have! If the real estate agents were permitted to either tell or give a booklet of the restrictions of the city to home buyers and renters, then if the people didn’t like them, they could move or rent in some other city. Problem solved!
After meeting with the code enforcement supervisor, two managers and a code enforcer himself, I now understand much better than I did how they work.
The code enforcers are doing their job but as stated in the Code Enforcement Code Violations booklet, besides having the neighborhoods proactively patrolled they rely on the vigilance the citizens to report complaints when the restrictions in Palm Coast are being violated.
I urge everyone to either get a booklet from the city office or go on line to read all the restrictions. If you see someone not following code — for instance, garbage pails and recycling bins not being kept out of sight, swale parking, cluttered front yards, etc. — just call and they will send someone to check it out.
Please look at all the restrictions we have, which makes Palm Coast so pretty. They will not give your name if you call. Please, let’s keep Palm Coast great the way it use to be.
Let’s value freedom over property values
Kudos to Mr. Bryan Denker, who while minding his own business was recently accosted by a government bureaucrat with the title of Land Use Administrator and commanded to repaint his newly painted house to comply with the Land Development Code.
When he appealed to the City Council, its response was, in essence, that the council had no control over the Code, which apparently came down from Mount Sinai, engraved on tablets of stone. Likewise, they supposedly have no control over the exalted administrator, in whose presence they presumably tremble like Dorothy before Oz, the Great and Powerful. Thus did the council seek to weasel out of its responsibility for such bizarre government overreach.
Mr. Denker then cogently pointed out that land use codes were meant to protect the safety of the community, not to empower government to override the aesthetic preferences of the owner of a home and impose its own preferences. (I employ the word "owner" with irony.) All to no avail.
For those Palm Coast residents who actually did (as suggested by Mayor Milissa Holland) move here seeking the soothing security of rules and regimentation, I recommend they consider one of the many "gated communities" hereabouts. There they can hunker down to their heart's content under the numerous rules of a homeowner's association.
Those of us who actually value our freedom, perhaps above all else (even "property values") might prefer a city government that does not think or act like a homeowner's association, but rather treats its citizens like responsible adults. Please allow us our idealistic notions, and we will leave others to their xenophobic fears. That is called, "live and let live.”
City needs a business plan on technology
While it seems proper to proceed with technology infrastructure enabling Palm Coast to be a “smart city,” key questions remain unanswered. Ideally, this platform will support a strategic business plan established by city leadership.
But, what is the strategic business plan for Palm Coast?
A defined business plan would outline thresholds of growth, economic targets with correlating expenses or enablers (technology, housing, et al) to achieve desired results. What is the return on taxpayer investment?
St. Johns and Volusia counties have been the Mecca of expansion over the past decade with plentiful, new, high-paying jobs driving population growth. Palm Coast has achieved some minor organic growth, but expansion is primarily from retiree migration, service industry and short-term construction. Mr. John Walsh, of this publication, cited the economic benefit of imported jobs over retiree growth in May 2018, though both are welcomed.
Palm Coast must proceed carefully; what separates us from the competition while bidding for jobs? How can we win economic battles that will put us on the path to prosperity? Where do we have a competitive advantage?
I assume this is why Mr. Matt Morton was hired, yet important decisions are being made in his absence. The mayor openly stated the need for new ideas in the city manager selection process, yet this technology investment seems premature at best.
Help deputies, then make amends on HQ
It seems like all I hear about the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office headquarters debacle is “How much is this going to cost us, the taxpayers, to replace this building?" What we have not seen discussed is what the legal costs will be for the Flagler taxpayers.
The sheriff’s workers’ comp carrier, contrary to the desires of the sheriff, has already spent big dollars dodging responsibility for these sick deputies. The Flagler taxpayers will ultimately foot that bill with guaranteed higher premiums next year.
To make matters worse, the carrier intends to continue to run up litigation costs.
This whole mess, and the expense related to same, could have been avoided by simply agreeing to continue a real investigation of the site, and giving our deputies and staff a medical evaluation and care. In layman's terms, did they forget that 35 of our relatives, friends and neighbors were poisoned?
Similarly, all workers’ compensation litigation, and the expense related to same, can be halted now, saving taxpayers a great deal of money, by simply accepting the compromise proposal to pause litigation and get medical treatment for those affected.
It is very important for all Flagler County taxpayers to understand this, and to demand accountability from the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners, and the sheriff’s carrier.
On April 15, the BOCC finally turned the corner and admitted after 11 months of abandonment that the old hospital will never be the sheriff’s HQ. With that in motion, this community needs now to make whole the lives of the caring professionals that protect us when we are in need. Once done, we can turn all of our attention to personally and criminally "squaring up" with the senior staff, former BOCC members and owners of this property. Yes, they made history by personally force-feeding us the largest man-made disaster in Flagler history!
There is still time to land this beast, with everybody coming together, but the time grows short. This is a case of national interest. Do we really want to be shown as a county that has zero regard for those excellent caring professionals who keep us safe? We might as well save all those promotional tax dollars and cancel the tourism efforts because they will not mask the fact that we have failed the human element in our community. And now the whole world will know it!