Bill poised to end anonymous code violation reports

Old house overgrown with grass
Old house overgrown with grass

The Florida Legislature has sent a bill to Gov. Ron DeSantis that would stop Florida residents from making an anonymous report of a code violation.

S.B. 60, also known as the County and Municipal Code Enforcement Bill, was sponsored by District 5 Sen. Jennifer Bradley and District 83 Rep. Tobin Overdorf.

The bill summary states that it would prohibit “county and municipal code inspectors from starting an investigation into violations of city or county codes or ordinances based on an anonymous complaint.”

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The bill passed the House on an 81-35 vote and cleared the Senate on a 27-11 tally. 

If the bill is signed into law, it will require that people making complaints of potential violations “provide their name and address to the local government body before an investigation may occur.”

There is one exception: “If the code inspector has reason to believe that alleged violation presents an imminent threat to public health, safety, or welfare or imminent destruction of habitat or sensitive resources,” the inspector can choose to investigate, according to the bill.

Carl Smart

The bill’s impact in Gainesville was a topic of conversation at Thursday’s general policy committee meeting of the Gainesville City Commission. Ryan Matthews of the lobbying firm Peebles, Smith & Matthews presented news about the outcome of the 2021 legislative session in Tallahassee, which he said involved 3,100 bills filed and 275 bills signed into law.

Carl Smart, Alachua County assistant manager, said he is not in favor of the bill that would tie the hands of code enforcement activities. Smart said anonymous sources account for about 45 percent of the code violation complaints the county receives.

“That bill would hurt the county’s ability to get to a lot of the problems,” he said in a phone interview. “People call in, but don’t want to cause problems between neighbors.”

If DeSantis signs the bill, the new law would go into effect on July 1.

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