I recognize that hoarding cases can be extremely time consuming to deal with and difficult for a property maintenance inspector because the person the inspector is dealing with is not rational about the state of the inside of the residence but I don’t think that’s a reason to do nothing. A woman died in her home in Skokie, IL and the only way to get her was to cut a hole in the roof in this story reported today. http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=395161 I had a case last week where the defendant pleaded guilty (he doesn’t even live in the home anymore but stays in an extended stay hotel due to the condition of the house) and the judge ordered him to remove the rubbish within 30 days. I had a picture of a dumpster on the property with just a small amount of items in it to show he hadn’t made much progress. The defendant said he couldn’t possibly do it within 30 days because of his physical condition. After quizzing him, the judge determined that he had the financial resources to hire someone to do it for him. Then the defendant argued that that wasn’t possible because that person wouldn’t know what to keep and what to throw away. The judge told him that he could do that by being the manager of the rubbish removal and he could give directions to the hired help. The defendant still protested but we’ll see next month if progress has been made.
I was recently at the Ravinia Festival, an outdoor park for music with my daughter. She bought me tickets to see a band and we were having a good time but then the singer urged the security guards at the entrances to the pavilion (where we were sitting) to let in people sitting on the lawn. The young ticket takers didn’t know what to do and patrons (who had been drinking) began to pour into the pavilion, filling up the aisles and the front of the stage. I turned to my daughter and said that the fire marshall wouldn’t like this. There was no way we would have been able to leave with this throng of people. It was also a hot, humid 90′s degree night. Thankfully there were only a few songs left until the end of the program and the band left the stage. The crowd cried for an encore but eventually some guy came out and had to be the bad guy, telling people without tickets for the pavilion they had to leave or the show couldn’t continue. By that time, police officers had arrived to oversee the exodus from the pavilion. The band eventually came back out but the singer decried the killing of rock and roll by not allowing people to be spontaneous and enjoy themselves. He later made mention that he knew the fire marshall was just doing his job but I was appalled by the ignorance of the danger involved in that type of setting. It did show how quickly a venue like that can respond to a threat and I have to give credit to the fire marshall for acting so fast in what could have been a volatile situation. My daughter’s plan to drag me behind the huge speakers a the edge of the stage if things got ugly never had to be implemented.
It’s that time of year again when I get questions about notice to offenders who don’t cut their grass. Some of the inspectors complain that owners of property rely on the notice the local jurisdiction sends them as a signal that it’s time to mow their lawn or property lot. The most frequent question I get is whether one notice is sufficient or whether a notice needs to be sent every time the property needs to be mowed again. It all depends on what your code says. If the code requires a notice before you can write a ticket, then that’s what you have to do. Owners take advantage of this because they cut the grass after they get the notice and before you can write a ticket. Then they wait until the next notice, cut the grass and wait until the next one. This really wastes the inspectors’ time. My suggestion is to amend the code’s notice provision (if you can do that depending on state and local law) so that one notice per season is sufficient. There’s no good reason any inspector should play babysitter to a landowner. The owner needs to supervise the property or pay the consequences.