Is Austin Code abusing its power?

The Austin Code Department is in the hot seat. This comes after several residents complain they are abusing their authority.

At Monday night's first public safety committee meeting, the big item on the agenda was regarding the policies, procedures and concerns with code compliance.

You may remember Matthew Palmer, he was taken to court over an alleged code violation involving the fence surrounding his RV.

Palmer was required to put up a six foot fence but a problem was found with the two foot gap from the grass to where the fence starts.

In February of this year a jury found palmer not guilty.

At Monday's meeting, Councilmember Don Zimmerman told the Code Department that they would have to clarify the language used in the fence code.

It currently does not state that a gap is prohibited.

Another case brought up Monday was regarding a homeowner who was facing several violations but says all except for one were invalid.

He says he achieved compliance with that one minor violation but three months later he was investigated again.

Many say the Code Department is not properly prioritizing their 17,000 cases a year.

"It's an abuse of authority and it's hard to say, they aren't really breaking policy because they don't have policies. They honestly don't know what to do so they try to do the most they can and they exceed kind of the intent quite often," said Ryan Reed.

The Code Department did say that they strive to prioritize their cases with most dangerous ones first.

In regards to the fence case, they admitted that their language of the code could be tweaked and then they will present it back to the public safety committee.

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