Grades for Dallas Code Enforcement Questioned

Report gives department B-minus grade for June

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Residents and city leaders say code compliance issues in some areas of Dallas gives code enforcement a failing grade. (Published Wednesday, Aug 8, 2012)

    Dallas Code Enforcement's recent grades on its accountability "report card" may not be as good as they seem, residents and City Council members say.

    The latest report gives the city an overall B-minus average for the seven code enforcement districts for the month of June. But much of city actually got much lower grades.

    "This kind of accountability report doesn't really reflect what our residents are seeing in their neighborhood," Councilwoman Angela Hunt said.

    The grading system was developed several years ago to help city leaders hold Dallas code enforcement accountable for problems such as wild dogs and high weeds. The grades are based on an average of three scores -- service delivery, community code enforcement conduct and service requests created by inspectors.

    In the service delivery category, which residents notice most, two districts got an F, one got a D-minus and two got C's.

    Letter carrier Darrell Davis said the neighborhood near Hatcher Street and Spring Avenue in the South Central code district has so many wild dogs that he has trouble delivering the mail.

    "It's very dangerous," he said. "We don't want our carriers bit. I don't want to get bit."

    The South Central District received an overall C-plus grade but an F in service delivery.

    "I give them an F," Davis said.

    The accountability report card is intended to reflect city's progress on performing code enforcement work, not just the condition of neighborhoods, Assistant City Manager Joey Zapata said.

    "That report has evolved over the past two or three years we've been doing it," he said. "We continue to try to evolve it to make sure that it's accurately reflecting the work that code does and trying to be accountable."

    City Council members have also been critical of Municipal Court judges for not being hard enough in enforcing citations, including code enforcement cases.

    "We have too often allowed defendants to really ignore citations in Dallas, and we're trying to make an effort to make that not the case," Hunt said.

    Council members are interviewing candidates for Municipal Court judge positions Wednesday evening, and changes are likely.

    Judges have defended their work, saying they are doing their best to fairly enforce city codes.

    For now, Davis said he is left with little choice when he visits homes with wild dogs outside.

    "Normally, I just don't give them the mail," he said.