Scharringhausen said he’s appreciative of what the Development Services Department has done so far, but thinks it can be more “robust,” specifically seeing a lot more from the city’s part-time zoning inspector. The councilman said the work being produced out of that part-time position ― which works 10 to 12 hours a week for six to seven months― appears to be “weak.”
“I know it’s seasonal, but I think you can get a little more aggressive with using that part-time employee,” said Scharringhausen, saying he’d expect a part-time employee would work closer to the 1,000 hours a year definition of a part-time employee.
“Based upon the feedback I get from residents ... folks are less than happy with this whole issue,” said Scharringhausen. “It’s not going to be solved overnight, it’s not going to be solved in a year, but part of it is becoming more robust in what you’re doing.”
To Scharringhausen’s point, Kathman said there are challenges in getting more out of the seasonal part-time zoning inspector position.
“Most of the people that we might hire already have another job, so there’s a limit on the number of hours they want to pick up because it’s a second job and it’s only seasonal,” said Kathman. “What I would not want to do is bring someone on with increased hours and have a lot of turnover.”
The city’s code-enforcement staff consists of one supervisor, two full-time zoning inspectors and one part-time zoning inspector. The three full-time workers manage all the cases within the city, and is assisted by the part-time inspector, as well as the building and zoning superintendent, the fire department’s fire inspector, and the recently hired Neighborhood Development manager.
The city has two residential inspection programs: the rental inspection program and Neighborhood Enhancement Action Team (NEAT) program.
The rental inspection program inspects Fairfield’s 70 multi-family complexes that have more than 7,700 housing units. Through May, the city has inspected 738 housing units in 54 structures at two multi-family complexes. They plan to inspect close to another 1,900 units at 107 structures in seven complexes, Kathman said.
There are about 12,000 single-family homes in Fairfield, but only 10,000 are considered to be in “walkable” neighborhoods, said Kathman. Those 10,000 homes are inspected by way of a targeted walking inspection. About 2,500 homes are inspected in a year, and all 10,000 homes are visually inspected in a four-year cycle. From 2009 to 2020, the department completed three cycles but will take 2021 off to re-evaluate the program, Kathman said.
“I think there’s a way we can have a little better targeted approach,” he said. “Rather than throwing a blanket over the entire city, like we’ve done before, I think we can make some adjustments and tweaks to the program.”
The revamped program will restart in 2022, he said.