Local bureaucrats ticket hurricane victims
As Florida residents put their lives and communities back together after Hurricane Irma's rampage through the state, the last thing they need is a government busybody making it worse. But according to this story, that's exactly what some residents are facing...and it is outrageous:
Mere hours after Hurricane Irma, Miami-Dade County was ticketing residents for building code violations on their wrecked properties.
Celso Perez was helping his neighbors remove some fallen trees blocking their street when a 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. Reason reached out to the county to confirm those numbers, but has not received a reply.
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.
Still, these warnings carry with them a duty to correct the violation within a specific window of time. That might not even be possible for some residents, given how many businesses are still out of operation.
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."
There is a time and place for everything. In the immediate aftermath of a hurricane, building code enforcement should be the last thing on local bureaucrats' minds. But that would assume local governments -- which can be more of a threat to liberty than anything seeping out of the DC swamp -- have minds. Or common sense.