Tag Archive: Code enforcement


Published on Sep 17, 2013

“Someone breaks in, they never show up. Yet still, they want to come and blackball you and close your business,” says Derek Little, owner of an auto shop along Detroit’s Livernois Avenue.

He’s one of many business owners in Detroit who’s faced what he says amounts to harassment from the city’s overzealous code enforcement. Amidst a bankruptcy and a fast-dwindling population and tax base, the city has prioritized the task of ensuring that all businesses are in compliance with its codes and permitting. To accomplish this, Mayor David Bing announced in January that he’d assembled a task force to execute Operation Compliance.

Operation Compliance began with the stated goal of shutting down 20 businesses a week. Since its inception, Operation Compliance has resulted in the closure of 383 small businesses, with another 536 in the “process of compliance,” according to figures provided to Reason TV by city officials.

But business owners say that Operation Compliance unfairly targets small, struggling businesses in poor areas of town and that the city’s maze of regulations is nearly impossible to navigate, with permit fees that are excessive and damaging to businesses running on thin profit margins.

“It is hard to run a business in Detroit. It’s taken me three years to get approval for an outside patio,” says Larry Mongo, who runs Cafe D’Mongo’s Speakeasy a successful bar and restaurant in downtown Detroit.

While Cafe D’Mongo’s is now well-established and successful, Mongo says that the inscrutable regulations, frustrating bureaucracy, and rampant corruption among city officials discourages many would-be entrepreneurs from ever pursuing their business ideas in the city.

“What about the person starting out? The reputation that they give their relatives, their cousins, their friends… They say, ‘Hey, don’t [start a business]. They rob you,'” says Mongo.

Operation Compliance is but one manifestation of a larger problem in Detroit says Michael LaFaive, Director of the Mackinac Center in Michigan. That problem is a local government more focused on collecting revenue and maintaining municipal worker jobs than it is on creating a business-friendly environment.

“Accidentally, the city has created sort of an anarchistic culture in the city, where many entrepreneurs, where many of the smaller retailers and entrepreneurs simply forgo getting the required permits,” says LaFaive. “So entrepreneurs have said, ‘Look, let them catch me if they can.’ Right now, the city has decided, ‘We’re going to try to catch you, and we’re going to put together a special unit to do so.'”

Officials from the city of Detroit did not respond to requests to be interviewed for this story.

Approximately 5 minutes. Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Shot by Tracy Oppenheimer and Weissmueller.

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Published time: August 16, 2013 19:04

AFP Photo / Kevork Djansezian

AFP Photo / Kevork Djansezian

A Texas SWAT team raided an organic farm, allegedly searching for marijuana. After conducting a 10-hour raid, destroying many of the plants and vegetables in the process, police failed to find any drug evidence.

Authorities last week raided a 3.5-acre Arlington-based organic farm business called the Garden of Eden, which advocates for sustainable lifestyles. Police said they were searching for marijuana in the gardens, after photos taken of the property from a Texas Department of Public Safety manned aircraft allegedly showed plants that resemble marijuana.

When the SWAT team arrived at the farm, the six adults who live there were held at gunpoint and handcuffed. For 10 hours, SWAT officers searched the property, destroying parts of the farm in the process.

City Code Enforcement officers also showed up at the property, despite the fact that their mission is unrelated to drug enforcement. City Enforcement offices are responsible for maintaining safe and attractive neighborhoods, and residents of the Garden of Eden believe the raid was simply an excuse to allow them to change the farm’s unconventional appearance.

They came here under the guise that we were doing a drug trafficking, marijuana growing operation. They destroyed everything,” property owner Shellie Smith told ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.

The Garden of Eden had recently been cited for code violations, including “grass that was too tall, bushes growing too close to the street, a couch and piano in the yard, chopped wood that was not properly stacked, a piece of siding that was missing from the side of the house and generally unclean premises,” Smith said in a statement.

While the SWAT team was searching for drugs, code compliance officers mowed the grass and removed wild, cultivated plants and equipment, which Smith said was a shock to everyone who lived on the farm. Arlington police claim that the operation lasted only 45 minutes, but residents of the Garden of Eden continue to insist that it took 10 hours.

Read More Here

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