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Hours After Hurricane Irma, Miami-Dade County Tickets Residents for Code Violations [Updated]

Thanks, government!

A home with numerous code violationsFema.gov

Mere hours after Hurricane Irma, Miami-Dade County was ticketing residents for building code violations on their wrecked properties.

Celso Perez was helping his neighbors remove some fallen trees blocking their street when a county code enforcer rolled up and issued him a safety notice for having a downed fence. "I laughed," Perez tells WSVN-TV. "I thought he was kidding. 'You are kidding right? We just had a hurricane six hours ago.'"

It wasn't a joke. The official told Perez that the downed fence—which encloses a pool—was a safety hazard, and that if it wasn't fixed by the time he returned, Perez would be hit with a fine. The official then hung the safety citation on the portion of Perez's fence that remained standing, leaving him and his neighbors to finish clearing the debris from their street.

According to WSVN, the county has handed out 680 safety notices for downed pool barriers, and another 177 electrical hazard safety notices. Reason reached out to the county to confirm those numbers, but has not received a reply.

From what can be gleaned from the WSVN story and from county code enforcement procedures, these safety notices appear to be just warnings, meaning no fines have been handed out as of yet. Reason tried to confirm this with the county as well, but was again rebuffed.

Still, these warnings carry with them a duty to correct the violation within a specific window of time. That might not even be possible for some residents, given how many businesses are still out of operation.

As Perez said of the day he got his ticket, "All the stores were closed. It's not like I can go to Home Depot and find some temporary barrier."

Even if he could, it's quite possible that Perez and the other people handed citations might have more pressing things to do right after a hurricane than bring their homes back up to code. You know: clearing the streets, seeking medical attention, checking in on family members, trying to find food. You might think the county would have higher priorities too, like getting the lights back on for Miami-Dade's 16,510 homes and businesses still without power.

County officials don't see it that way. "It is important that we reach residents in the immediate aftermath of the storm," one tells WSVN, "because that is when conditions are most dangerous, and taking steps to protect life is a critical part of the recovery process."

Update: After publication Reason received comment from Miami-Dade county, with the following explanation:

We were looking to advise residents of the following hazards on their properties that they may not have been aware of, but that pose a life safety threat: damaged structures that rendered them unsafe, unsecured pools with no barriers, electrical hazards (down lines, damaged meters) and gas hazards (damaged meters). If any of these hazards were found, our inspectors gave out a safety notice, which is neither a notice of violation warning nor a citation. That means there is no fine attached. The safety notices given to property owners identify the hazard, steps that should be taken to correct the hazard, and who to contact for additional information.

Photo Credit: Fema.gov

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  • Libertymike||

    Yet another manifestation of why miniarchy has been, is, and always will be doomed to abject failure.

    The public sector just sucks.

  • Brandybuck||

    The Minarchotopia would not have county building inspectors...

  • Fk_Censorship||

    Not at first. But they'd eventually find their way and overtake the place.

  • Fk_Censorship||

    Wait until the inspectors find out about you and your undeclared income, my dear!

  • Juice||

    I think colonials kept vats of tar and bales of feathers around for times like this.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    If the tar and feathers are applied with a baseball bat, sure.

  • croaker||

    This is a looter. String him up.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Florida has become a nanny state thanks to all the New Yorkers that have moved there.

    This is just another reason to never live in Florida. Hurricanes, massive illegal populations, and bloated government just really make the state a bad state to live in.

  • R. K. Phillips||

    Warm weather, great fishing, and places to hide from society are reasons to move there, however.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Just don't ever go to Walmart.

    Which is sad because Walmart is awesome in Texas.

  • Longtobefree||

    Hurricanes give a week's warning. Not so with tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, floods (except hurricane floods) and the other many ways mother nature says "don't live there".

  • Trainer||

    I've been through wildfires, blizzards, floods and tornadoes. I know I don't want to live where there are active volcanoes or earthquakes. That just leaves hurricanes and even if you only have 3 days to prepare, that's still more time than all the others except for blizzards and I'd much rather shovel out houses in the heat than shovel snow in the freezing cold.

  • Johnimo||

    I'm partial to shoveling snow in the bitter cold here in Montana. It's light as a feather because of the low moisture content, and thus, not to hard on an old man's back. A little snow blowing through cracks in the weather stripping is a whole lot easier to live with than water leaking into your living room .... NO THANK YOU!

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Compassion.

  • Fuck You - Cut Spending||

    Looting by another name.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    County officials don't see it that way. "It is important that we reach residents in the immediate aftermath of the storm," one tells WSVN, "because that is when conditions are most dangerous, and taking steps to protect life is a critical part of the recovery process."

    People always ask me, "How come you're an anarchist?"

  • Crusty Juggler - Lawbertarian||

    No one asks that.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    WELL I WISH THEY WOULD

  • Brandybuck||

    How come you're an anarchist?

    There, feel better?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    I sort of feel like you're not being genuine.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I'd love to read your rambling blog.

  • DenverJ||

    Worst dating site ever.

  • Gryph||

    LMAO!

  • timbo||

    "I'm the government and I'm here to help"

    Do you think that little fella Rachel Maddow will report on this?

  • Necron 99||

    Come on, this can't be real. This is next level Monty Python bullshit or something, right. Right?

  • SQRLSY One||

    These are sad, sad days that have descended upon us, when roving bands of government ruffians feel free to say "Impending fines! Ni! Ni! Ni!" to little old hurricane-victim ladies...

  • Gryph||

    And be sure to find a shrubbery while you're at it.

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: Hours After Hurricane Irma, Miami-Dade County Tickets Residents For Code Violations
    Thanks, government!

    This is because Dade County denizens have not been punished enough for enjoying living in South Florida.
    More pain is needed.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Nobody enjoys living in South Florida. Living in South Florida is just something that happens to you when you've exhausted all your other options.

  • timbo||

    They have to stop this frighteningly fast sea level rise somehow.

    Where I live, we call the sea level rise high tide. Then it goes away. THEN IT COMES BACK!!!!!!

  • Brandybuck||

    Maybe you shouldn't build right on the beach.

  • Agammamon||

    Its Florida - 50%of the state is beach, the other 50% swamp.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    You made a great case to not live in Florida!

  • Agammamon||

    You can't explain that!

  • Johnimo||

    Living in South Florida is what happens to Yankees after they retire and don't know what to do about the cold weather they've been enduring for a lifetime. They don't understand how warm it is in the West (it's a warm, dry cold) and they don't understand how to handle the lack of the crowds, too which they've become accustomed. Thus, they move to Florida to die. It's a nice place to visit, but I don't want to die down there.

  • CE||

    Sounds like its time for a new county government.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    There was a time in this country, before everyone was cucked beyond recognition, that these county officials would have been chased down the street by a mob carrying pitchforks, table legs and torches, and that would have been the last we'd hear of the King's men in powdered wigs handing out petty violations.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Cucked Beyond Recognition is my grindcore act, and I'd appreciate if you properly capitalize it.

  • Agammamon||

    According to WSVN, the county has handed out 680 safety notices for downed pool barriers, and another 177 electrical hazard safety notices.
    County officials don't see it that way. "It is important that we reach residents in the immediate aftermath of the storm," one tells WSVN, "because that is when conditions are most dangerous, and taking steps to protect life is a critical part of the recovery process."

    Its is important to do this sort of thing to ensure Continuity of Government. After all, if these people think they can just go about the business of picking up the remains of their lives without centralized direction and control in the aftermath of a disaster they might start asking why they can't do that during normal times.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    I do sort of like the mental image of some county inspection drone picking his way over all the downed wires, fallen mangroves, and waterlogged pythons in his own yard to go out and punish his neighbors for the same. Very British Absurdist.

  • p3orion||

    I'm familiar with Kelly's work.

    I assume the lucrative work-from-home opportunity you're talking about is her popular "Handjobs for Hobos" webcast, right? I'm glad to hear she's earning an actual paycheck from it, especially since she used to just trade her "services" for little baggies of meth. It's nice to see she's moved up while she still has most of her teeth, and is now making a living doing something she obviously enjoys!

    I'm looking forward to her next show, but please tell her to get those genital warts looked at soon; they seem to be getting worse.

  • The Last American Hero||

    I would lured him over to the pool, pushed him in, and then said, "You're right. I really need to do something about that barrier. Some shithead might fall in there."

  • losmazeman||

    This scenario is best imagined with an alligator in the pool.

  • Johnimo||

    There are plenty of places in S. Florida where a bullet ridden body can be disposed of.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    You do have to wonder how these asshats, no matter how inured to the bureaucracy that employs them, manage to live with what they do.

  • DC_36||

    it's amazing what people can rationalize and compartmentalize when they're able to abdicate responsibility for it because they had 'official authority' and were just 'following orders' / 'doing their job'. Plus they're able to convince themselves, through a 'safety above all' mindset and very little if any self-reflection, that they're actually helping people be safe.

  • R. K. Phillips||

    Is that "ass hat" or "as shat"? Both work.

  • CE||

    Shouldn't all the city officials be putting in overtime helping rebuild the city instead of handing out tickets?

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    They are just guiding the process. They leave it to individuals to use the free market process to select teh best method of compliance.

  • Spartacus||

    Well, there are lots of people out there right now with chainsaws and woodchippers at the ready. Some methods of compliance just suggest themselves.

  • Johnimo||

    You are SO understanding. I'm hoping you'll conduct "indoctrination classes" for those of us still in a non-compliant mindset. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Government is just a word for us all fucking over hurricane victims together.

  • Bra Ket||

    County officials don't see it that way. "It is important that we reach residents in the immediate aftermath of the storm," one tells WSVN, "because that is when conditions are most dangerous, and taking steps to protect life is a critical part of the recovery process."


    Except of course for the fact that they would never go near the place if they actually thought there was danger.

  • Sigivald||

    You might think the county would have higher priorities too, like getting the lights back on for Miami-Dade's 16,510 homes and businesses still without power.

    Miami-Dade County doesn't own Florida Power And Light, and their code enforcement officers would presumably lack the necessary skills and tools to significantly assist in restoring electrical connectivity, no?

    I mean, I also assume the County has better things to do, and think this whole Code Violation Warning thing is stupid.

    But - and to think I have to fucking remind Reason of this! - "running the power grid" isn't the County's job.

    Their job is to stay the hell out of the way while FPL does it.

  • Spartacus||

    FPL doesn't clear downed trees that are blocking access to the power lines--that's the county's job, so they are involved with getting power back on, especially for those who are going on day 10 now without power, because FPL can't get to the lines. Because downed trees are in the way. Fuck the code enforcer. They should drop a live power line in the pool, and *then* push him in.

  • Bubba Jones||

    The county also clears all demolition debris pulled out of flooded homes.

    At least in Texas.

  • Henry Baker||

    I dealt with these fascist bastards for decades in Lee County. That's one of the major reasons I left fascist Florida.

    Most of these code enforcement turds are transplants from the fascist/communist northeast.

  • Spartacus||

    Huh. I have been living in Lee County for nearly 25 years, and never had a problem with them. They didn't even hassle me when I put up my wood fence without getting a permit. Maybe you had asshole neighbors who kept calling them for trivial stuff.

  • Longtobefree||

    Maybe he was the asshole neighbor?

  • 10mm||

    with all those downed trees, there must be quite a few chippers around.

  • MichaelL||

    HEHEHEHE! ...(;-p

  • Johnimo||

    Accidents DO happen ...

  • Trigger Warning||

    Steps to protect life, like scribbling on a piece of paper.

    Only a bureaucrat would think that way.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    You want more Trump......This is how you get More Trump!

  • Andrew_M_Garland||

    Following the wisdom of Benito Mussolini,

    All within the rules, nothing outside the rules, nothing against the rules.

  • Fk_Censorship||

    In Italy, this couldn't have meant all that much. It must have been more of a wishful thinking kind of thing.

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    Spare me the tears for the one-percenters with pools in their back yards.

  • LarryA||

    I'm thinking in Florida the percentage of homes with pools is significantly higher than one percent.

  • Spamf Roming||

    You must mean "I think you've earned enough."

  • uunderstand||

    NW FL code/permit people are different, very helpful. My father-in-law had an electrical inspection for a meter. The inspector said the box was too high, just a few inches. My FIL grabbed a shovel and said, " give me just a minute to fix that. " He started to pile dirt in front of the pole. The inspector started laughing and signed off on the installation.

  • Bubba Jones||

    A+.

  • ||

    "I'm from the government and I am here to help!"

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    This is a very important process for focusing County residents on what should be their top priority.....

    Lynching as many building inspectors and county politicians as possible.

  • dirtydog1776||

    These bungling bureaucrats who are handing out warnings during this time of crisis should have their ticket books taken away and given shovels, brooms, hammers and other tools, and told to help citizens with the cleanup. Put them to work doing something useful for a change.

  • Eric Bana||

    Is it April 1st?

  • Gwen||

    I think Heinlein said it best. You don't dun a sick man. You wait.

  • Johnimo||

    The government is the enemy of a free people. Too bad that hurricane Irma didn't destroy these petty little, power-hungry assholes, instead of the property of the citizens in dire need of help.

  • Spamf Roming||

    Because "government is just another word for things we do together."

  • SOFL Hockey Fan||

    Moved from the NY/NJ area to SOFL in '98. Been through Frances and Jeannie in '04 and Wilma in '05. Not sure if my home was hit by hurricane winds from Irma but lost power for 3 days and no damage. Not a bad record for span of 20 seasons.

  • p3orion||

    "Safety notices" rather than "tickets." The update kind of takes the wind out of the sails of this story. The code enforcer's actions at first seemed "actively evil," but in light of the clarification, now seem merely "annoyingly obvious."

  • Tionico||

    stoopud gummit dweebs.... do they REALLY think the residents aren't aware of "safety issues"? Some are more aware of pressing "save my life/house/vaulables" issues.

    How many young kids ignorant enough to "fall into" a murky pool because the fence is down after the storm will be running about loose on the streets? The snowflake kiddies will have been whisked miles away to a place that is still in decent order not running about looking for backyard muddied pools with the fences down so they can have a dip.

    These gummit dweebs need a dose of reality. How much GOOD could they be doing? How long will it be before one of them gets confronted by a man dealing wiht REAL issues gets up in the official's grille and tells him to grow up and get real?

  • jerryg1018||

    Sounds like the code inspectors need some training in communications with the citizens. Also sounds like Big Brother trying to crack the whip over the serfs.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Update: After publication Reason received comment from Miami-Dade county, with the following explanation:
    Was is because governments scan Reason for scathing reports?

    If so, that is good for keeping gov in check. Probably just a scheduled reply by gov to Reason's request.

  • croaker||

    Woodchippers have more than one use.

  • jimusa||

    This seems reasonable. If one expects individual responsibility for one's property, and didn't expect the government to come fix things on private property, then simply giving notices of what's expected to come back up to code after a hurricane is sensible. Less requiring fences around pools are designed to reduce drownings by children, who don't have the same expectation of personal responsibility and sense as adults. Is the argument against such laws, or simply expecting personal responsibility in following them?

  • jimusa||

    Sorry, meant to write "laws regarding fences"

  • ||

    That second correction is about the funniest damn thing I heard all year. Thanks for the belly laugh. I miss my home of a dozen years. Houston Strong!

  • junsukiu||

    Really great post, Thank you for sharing This knowledge.Excellently written article, if only all bloggers offered the same level of content as you, the internet would be a much better place. Please keep it up! five nights at freddy's

  • Kenneth Cochran||

    You think their building code enforcement is draconian. You should see what they do to people who block the sidewalks that cut through their driveways.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    The safety notices given to property owners identify the hazard, steps that should be taken to correct the hazard, and who to contact for additional information.

    Oh, well that's fine then! Just because it has the same legal effect as a citation and is even written on the same form as a citation doesn't mean it's a citation. Good to know.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    It behooves the government to respond to inquiries from journalists instead of ignoring them. If the explanation in their update is correct, and that this was not a citation and did not carry a reasonable threat of punishment, then this article should never have been printed and the Miami-Dade department would not have had their name tarnished by this story. But because they were too lazy or unwilling to respond to the PUBLIC DEMAND for an explanation, they've been dragged through the mud, right or wrong.

  • Libertarianssuck||

    I noticed the government's response at the bottom of the article. Kind of spoils the fun for you I suppose. Left to Libertarians building codes would not exist, and millions would suffer needless injury and death. Perhaps one day you'll have the utopia you dream of, and find out out how foolish you are the hard way. (Along with the rest of us.)

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If any of these hazards were found, our inspectors gave out a safety notice, which is neither a notice of violation warning nor a citation.

    The homeowner reported a threat to return with a fine.

  • joebanana||

    The "residents" of flooded areas should file a class action against the city, county, and state for improper drainage, resulting in property damage.

  • hammerhead||

    I don't live in the Miami-Dade area, but I do live in Florida. My experience is that Code Enforcement Boards and Homeowners Associations are often staffed with old people with an agenda, inhuman officials who don't give a rip for people's plights, and other bureaucrats whose sole purpose in life is to make others as miserable as possible.

  • Martin Tyler||

    It is Very interesting Blog sites.And Mention Good Informative Information in this blog.This blog very helpful for Miami city.I was read on Miami-Dade County Tickets Residents for Code Violation.very interesting blog.so Plese Do share this types blog on Miami fence also.
    Thank You very much.!!

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