Hood was right for appealing permit

Posted: Sunday, July 01, 2007

Thank you for publishing the story ("Land Use Code violations pile up for the city," June 24) on Dixie Hood's appeal of the city manager's "friendly policy" to work with people when they are in violation instead of enforcing the code. City Manager Rod Swope apparently doesn't support code enforcement because it is too "pricey."

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I want to thank Hood for her citizenship. She is right in saying, "It sets a terrible precedent for developers to go forward without a permit to accomplish the project and saying after the fact it would cost too much to undo it. And the city going along with that without even a slap on the hand."

Enforcement is not an either/or proposition as Swope seems to believe. Juneau should develop a written policy to provide a decision-making framework for handling Land Use Code violations. In every case, an assessment of the relevant issues needs to be done to determine whether the violation affects others or poses risks to land, buildings or the environment. Swope's attitude that public officials should attempt to persuade the owner to correct violations voluntarily is positive. However, violations should never be ignored as a matter of informal policy. Such a policy breeds disrespect for the law.

We don't expect formal enforcement action to be taken over trivial breaches of the Land Use Code when there is no expected harm to the public or the environment. But when a violation is serious enough to justify immediate action, then we citizens expect the city to take that action.

Patricia J. O'Brien

Juneau



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