October 19, 2020 Baltimore County
Recommendations Include Establishing Multi-Family Unit Inspection Program, Proactive Inspections, Hiring Additional Inspectors, Expanding Inspection Hours
Baltimore County’s Code Enforcement Work Group today issued their report which includes recommendations to improve the County’s program in order to better serve County residents.
“Residents deserve a strong quality of life in our neighborhoods, and code enforcement is an important way we can strengthen that quality of life,” Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said. “We consistently hear from respondents who want more proactive and responsive code enforcement, and I commend our working group for developing actionable recommendations that will help us to better meet the needs of our residents.”
Baltimore County’s Code Enforcement division investigates code and zoning complaints and identifies violations of the Baltimore County Code, International Residential Code and the Life Safety Code. Baltimore County’s 25 inspectors respond to over 18,000 code complaints each year. Formed in early 2020, Baltimore County’s Code Enforcement Work Group was charged with examining the County’s policies and practices and developing recommendations for improvement.
Chaired by Mike Mallinoff, Director of the Baltimore County Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections, and co-chaired by Councilman Izzy Patoka, the Work Group consisted of community representatives from each council district who gathered public input through an online survey and three public meetings, as well as information from experts and stakeholders.
The Code Enforcement Work Group’s recommendations released today are:
- Establish a special “revolving fund” to support needed repairs and program innovations. Revenue collected from citations would be earmarked for repairing derelict structures and other code enforcement remediation, such as expanding rat eradication efforts.
- Introduce proactive inspections. Currently Baltimore County code enforcement officers respond to filed complaints. The Work Group recommends expanding this scope of work so that inspectors would also patrol zones to issue proactive correction notices.
- Establish a multi-family unit inspection program. Most jurisdictions in Maryland have established programs to inspect and license multifamily residential rental dwellings of seven or more units. While there are an estimated 340 complexes and over 78,000 additional units in Baltimore County, the County currently does not provide such a program.
The Olszewski administration will be introducing legislation to the County Council to empower the County Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections to create a local program to license and inspect Multi-Family Complexes. This program would be similar to the Rental Registration Program already in existence for residential rental dwellings of six units or less.
- Expand code enforcement inspection hours to include evenings and weekends.
- Hire additional code enforcement inspectors.
- Expand the Office of Administrative Hearings to improve speed and efficacy.
- Increase transparency by live-streaming Administrative Law Judge hearings and by creating a public dashboard where residents can view violations.
- Establish a vacant property registry. Owners of vacant residential and commercial properties would be required to register with Baltimore County on an annual basis or be subject to a fine and liens.
- Improve sign, trash and litter, private and business property maintenance code enforcement. County inspectors should vigorously enforce current laws, including increased focus on repeat offenders posting illegal signs and illegal trash dumping.
- Establish a Code Inspector Training Program.
- Expand opportunities for proactive resident engagement.
The Code Enforcement Work Group’s full report is available here (PDF).