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Officials clarify actions to enforce property codes inside city limits

The scene before. This home at 501 E. Adler Street had fallen into a state of disrepair and was classified by the city as a danger to the community.

By Alisha Thompson
As many of you know, Code Enforcement has become a hot topic at City Council Meetings. In an effort to become more informed about the processes taking place at these meetings and know just what “Code Enforcement” is, a deep dive into Davis City Codes and a conversation with Code Enforcement Officer G. Dale Fullerton was on the “to-do list.”
If you look at the Davis City Code, you will find it filled with regulations or laws that relate to every resident and business within the city. Interestingly, there are laws regarding public safety to gumball machines, taxi cabs and Sunday burials. There is even an ordinance that states nothing with wheels can be on city sidewalks, like bicycles or skateboards. The City Council is responsible for putting all these ordinances into the Davis City Code.
By definition “Code Enforcement” is the prevention, detection, investigation and enforcement of violations of the statutes or ordinances regulating public health, safety, welfare, public works, business activities, consumer protection, building standards, land-use or municipal affairs. With that said, think about everything in our daily lives that definition covers.
Fullerton wears many hats with the City, but his primary focus is Code Enforcement.  He told me a story about when he worked for the State of Oklahoma, covering all 77 counties. He drove into a town that was so clean and that made a lasting impression on him. Did that make him want to work as Code Enforcement Officer in Davis? No way. Wasn’t even on his radar.
Fullerton stated clearly, he had no idea what he was getting himself into when he took the job almost a year ago. He said this was the most difficult job he’s ever had. With his background, that says a lot.
Fullerton started this job with a one week class and passed a written exam. One thing that sticks out to him was the class’s motto: “I shall enforce the laws of my jurisdiction consistently, equally, fairly, without favor, and shall not permit personal feelings, prejudice, friendships, influences (political or otherwise) to interfere, prohibit or delay the process of enforcement.” That motto didn’t come back to mind until he started working in code enforcement.
Surprising fact? Fullerton said he has yet to write a single citation/ticket for a code enforcement violation. For the most part, Fullerton said he has received support and cooperation from residents, which he is very thankful for, but like with anything else, some people just refuse to cooperate.

The scene after. This dumpster was all that was left on the property by the time the city had finished the cleanup.

Tearing down someone’s house is a big deal and is something he does not take lightly. According to Fullerton, most of the homes have been torn down in recent months have been vacant for many years, the owner passed away without a will or no one will take responsibility for the home. Often these properties are used by vagrants, a dangerous place for kids to explore or vandals will go in and destroy what is left or strip all the copper wiring. In some cases, the homes are set on fire. The decision to demolish a home is made by the City Council after a public hearing is held and proper notice has been provided.
According to Fullerton, Davis has a housing shortage. He knows of at least one property where a new home is being built on one of these lots, which will in turn raise property values in the area and is a “win win” for everyone.
Fullerton is grateful for the City Council’s support in his job, which is important. Fullerton said they have been instrumental to making all of the progress which has been made. Fullerton has received several compliments regarding his work in code enforcement but he maintains it has truly been a team effort with many of the other great city employees. There are several residents who are elderly or disabled and are provided assistance. Individuals needing assistance are asked to contact City Hall by calling (580) 369-3333 and the city will make arrangements for someone to help you with code enforcement needs.

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