By Heather Teter / Special to The Tally Wire
You might not realize it, but every single day, the City of Tallahassee’s Code Enforcement division plays a critical role in protecting the health, safety and welfare of our community. Comprised of 13 staff members, including five Resilience Officers (previously known as Code Enforcement Officers), this division is responsible for ensuring that the 103.5 square miles of our city is safe, vibrant and healthy for residents.
Wearing a button-down shirt, shiny name tag and warm smile, City Resilience Officer Martin Atorresagasti spends his days ensuring properties meet the standards set forth by the City’s codes. Martin works with property owners on everything from lawns and fences to smoke alarms and swimming pools.
“I serve a very important role within the community by helping to ensure the health, safety and welfare of our residents is protected through the adherence to City codes,” Atorresagasti said. “I enjoy helping landlords, tenants and owners see that their property offers healthy living conditions.”
On any given day, Atorresagasti wears the hat of problem solver, communicator, mediator, researcher and educator. In some cases, issues can be overcome easily through education about City codes. For example, alerting the owner of the need to maintain a residential swimming pool in a clean condition with an enclosed fence at least 4 feet high with a self-closing or self-latching gate. In other cases, Atorresagasti may need to escalate the issue and seek alternatives to help the owner comply.
“I helped a renter work with her landlord to mitigate a fire hazard by ensuring that the windows in her rental property opened and closed properly,” Atorresagasti said. “Together, we sought quotes from contractors and eventually saw the faulty windows replaced. In the end, everyone was happy and, most importantly, safe. That’s why I love my job. I help people.”
In 2019, Atorresagasti and his fellow Resilience Officers performed nearly 8,000 inspections. Of those inspections, 68 percent were brought into voluntary compliance, helping to maintain safety standards and property values. The most common code violations included instances of overgrown lawns, improper fencing, waste and/or debris in the yard – all of which can be easily remedied.
In every action Atorresagasti performs as a City Resilience Officer, he keeps in mind that his job goes beyond enforcement. His main focus is to be a conduit of connection – connecting with property owners, connecting property owners to helpful programs and connecting as a neighbor himself to his fellow neighbor.
To learn more about the City’s codes and ordinances, visit Talgov.com. If you’d like a City Resilience Officer to attend your next neighborhood association meeting to review and explain code requirements, call 850-891-7007 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.