Archive for June, 2010
It is possible to move mountains! Well maybe nudge them a bit.
Recently I published a story entitled “The Power of Bureaucrats”. http://www.memphisshelbyinform.com/2010/06/07/the-power-of-bureaucrats/
It started as a tale of several employees of the Memphis and Shelby County Office of Construction Code Enforcement visiting a small office on Poplar Avenue and demanding a certificate of occupancy from three office renters. They each had to pay $69 and were subject to inspection. It seemed like a violation of the renters rights and I asked in an open records request a number of questions about the ordinance or code section applicable, the uniformity of application of inspections and various other questions.
Well I got a lot of response from various people in the real estate industry and also got effective support from City Council member Kemp Conrad. It seems to have been effective and apparently we are going to see clarification and change. I show below one of several communications that I received about this matter.
This note is to affirm to you that at least some of your diligent bureaucracy analysis efforts result in change for the better.
On Monday , June 7th, after I received and read your discussion titled The Power of Bureaucrats, I recognized that this is a matter that real estate professionals would find of shared interest.
I forwarded your note to a knowledgeable group with expertise in governmental affairs. Because it became apparent that this affected many tenants (but usually not the owners/managers), it immediately got passed along to other real estate professionals with similar expertise.
By Thursday, I was receiving copies of e-mail correspondence indicating recognition that this was matter that had gone out of control. One of those e-mails was an invitation to a meeting this Monday afternoon “to discuss how the Office of Code Enforcement determines when a Certificate of Occupancy is required. … The Unified Development Code (UDC) may or may not need to be amended to remove any ambiguities in this process.”
Some thirty persons attended along with about six representatives from relevant Shelby County Government offices. It was apparent that the governmental officials had anticipated that those in attendance were potentially influential. As we arrived, a prepared one page document was handed out.
They offered a brief oversight discussion of the situation and then referred to the document that included proposed changes to the UDC, which they discussed and advocated.
Needless to say, this gathered group of real estate professionals had come prepared to tangle with bureaucracy. Although a few questions by them were asked for clarification, within twenty minutes the group found the proposal to be acceptable, which it was said would immediately be informally implemented by Code Enforcement staff, and be written into the UDC by year’s end. There is no question in my mind that this promise will be kept. Any indication to the contrary will should result in focused comment by the Memphis Area Association of Realtors, the Home Builders of Memphis, the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce, and numerous elected officials.
Basically, unless occupancy requires the issuance of a Building Permit under the technical codes, or the use seems inconsistent with its zoning classification, a change in occupancy or signage will not (or no longer) trigger a Certificate of Occupancy. Josh Whitehead, Assistant City Attorney, presented the document.
You and your article were the effective catalyst for this change. Congratulations,