Friday, July 13, 2018

Brief history, 2009–2018: Code Enforcement in City of Lake Worth.

We start off with this from Mr. Andrew Marra:

“Most code enforcement fines were never paid, and no efforts were made to collect them. Dangerously dilapidated properties were left untouched, while code enforcement officials continued tacking on fines they knew would never be collected.”

Quote, then-editor and now schools reporter Andrew Marra. Palm Beach Post, editorial dated October 20th, 2013.

There are now many more updated and new City ordinances to reduce blight but in 2009, 9 years ago, the situation seemed so out of control there would be no way possible to ever catch up.

Hard to believe, but at one point (in 2014) it was decided to just burn these former homes down (see video below), using these dilapidated structures to train firefighters, and then have the CRA build a new home in its place.

Finally, in early 2016 after much work by the City staff and City Commission — the rewriting and updating of the codes and ordinances — things began to turn around in a big way. City Manager Michael Bornstein wrote in a City newsletter, “Code is Moving Forward”:

“[I]t was apparent that the City’s Code Compliance Division was having some serious problems. The Division’s operations were hampered by trying to enforce outdated and inconsistent City Codes and they did not have the resources and training necessary to deal with the difficult circumstances in our City.” 

How did we get into this terrible situation
to begin with?

When a prior administration began to gut the Code Enforcement Dept. — starting in 2009 — a well-respected resident stated later,

“After [Susan] Stanton was hired [in 2009] she made a statement concerning code and indicated that it was no longer a priority. The number of code officers dropped and she did not replace them. I met with her a year after she took over and confronted her with the fact that code was doing nothing to stop the blight and that I was extremely disappointed with her decision to allow the department to fall apart.” 

Stanton was fired in December 2011; Mr. Bornstein was hired in April 2012.

Now fast-forward to July 2017 (use this link)
from City Manager Bornstein:

“Maintaining community standards through Code Compliance is not an easy process. But it is one that we are committed to and one that we have made great progress in over the past several years. Thanks to new and enforceable laws adopted by the City Commission, the creation of the Code Remediation Fund, and a dedicated staff committed to the improvement of the City, we are working to make things better.”

Last June here in the City of Lake Worth there was a proclamation for “Code Enforcement Officers Week” at the City Commission. I was in attendance at that meeting. It was one of the biggest applauses I’ve ever heard in a very long time at City Hall. They deserve it.

Anyhow, some day next week. . .

Contact the City of Lake Worth’s Code Compliance Division and give them some kind words of encouragement and say, “Thank You”!
  • The office is located at 1900 2nd Ave. North.
  • Open Monday–Friday, 8:00–4:00.
  • Phone number is 561-586-1652.
  • Email:

Oh, and remember that video
I mentioned earlier? Here it is.