The Neighborhood Inspection section is responsible for enforcement of the Housing Code (housing maintenance) for existing housing and residential zoning code issues (i.e. parking violations, illegal home occupations, signs on right-of-way, etc.).
Neighborhood Inspection is also responsible for ensuring the removal of graffiti, condemnation and removal of dangerous and unsafe buildings; and an emergency board up program for vacant and open residential structures.
Neighborhood inspectors enforce the minimum Housing Code and the residential requirements of the Unified Zoning Code. Each inspector is assigned an inspection area within the City and is responsible for enforcement in that area. Neighborhood inspectors work closely with Community Police Offices and Neighborhood Associations in their designated inspection areas. Neighborhood Inspectors are also part of the CLEAN Team, which is a coalition of Law and Code Enforcement officers working together to rid neighborhoods of gang and drug activity.
This section also coordinates the Neighborhood Cleanup Program. This program provides equipment and assistance to neighborhood associations and groups interested in cleaning up their neighborhoods.
The Housing Code was created to provide minimum standards for residential housing within the City of Wichita to help ensure decent, safe, and sanitary housing for all its citizens, and to conserve the existing housing stock.
What types of maintenance items does the Housing Code cover?
- maintenance of roof, foundations, exterior walls and porches in good repair
- adequate light and ventilation
- safe electrical wiring, fixtures and outlets
- adequate safe heating facilities
- adequate water and sewage disposal
- maintenance of accessory structures
Yes, the Housing Code applies to ALL residential structures within the City, regardless of when they were built, or whether or not they are occupied. There is no "grandfathering" in the Housing Code.
The common residential zoning violations are:
- parking illegally in required front yard
- parking on unsurfaced or improperly surfaced area
- R.V.s, boats and trailers improperly located on private property
- improperly located "stored" autos on private property
- working on cars
- illegal home occupations
- unlicensed garage sales
- signs improperly located (on City right-of-way)
Timeframes vary depending on the type of violation. Violations of illegal auto repair or parking violations are generally required to be corrected the same day the violation occurs. For first time violations, a Zoning Violation Notice is issued.
If the violation still exists when the inspector re-inspects, a Zoning Citation will be issued. Other types of violations, e.g. illegal home occupations, may be given up to 30 days to be corrected.
Housing cases are initiated in three basic ways:
- complaints from citizens
- referrals from other City departments
- inspector observation
If the inspection reveals that the structure is in violation of the code, the inspector initiates a case in an effort to resolve all noted violations.
The first step in the enforcement process is to issue a Notice of Improvements, which describes each violation. The usual compliance timeframe for a first notice is 60 days. A much shorter timeframe may be given if a life-safety or other serious problem exists.
If reasonable efforts have been made to make repairs by the end of this initial compliance period, the inspector will issue a Notice of Violation, which lists the violations and gives no more than 30 days to achieve code compliance.
The Notice of Violation is the order to make the repairs. If no work or only minimal work is accomplished by the end of this compliance period, the inspector will issue a Uniform Criminal Complaint (UCC) requiring an appearance in Environmental (Neighborhood) Court. Neighborhood Court is held Monday through Thursday at 6 PM at each of the four Police Substations.
Once a UCC has been served, the case becomes a matter for the Court to resolve.
In some cases, the owner will not make repairs of severe and life safety items, or the property may be destroyed by fire or other catastrophe, or may be abandoned. In these cases, a condemnation action which may result in demolition and removal of the unsafe structure is initiated.
- The inspector determines that a dangerous and unsafe structure has not been brought into compliance and submits the case to the Neighborhood Inspection Supervisor for condemnation.
- Certificates of Title are ordered and all interested parties are notified that the case will be heard before the Board of Code Standards and Appeals. The BCSA hears the case and either gives an extension of time for the owner to repair the property or makes a recommendation to the City Council to demolish the structure.
- A hearing is scheduled before the City Council within 45 days of the BCSA hearing. The Council may grant the owner additional time to repair the structure. If no additional time is granted, a resolution to demolish the structure is adopted.
- Once the structure is ordered to be demolished, the owner is given 10 days to initiate demolition. If this is not done, the City's demolition contractor is instructed to demolish the structure. All costs associated with this action are assessed against the property.