Tana Bryant is Anniston’s senior code enforcement officer. She has lived in Anniston for the past 15 years and worked for the City of Anniston for 12 years. She is also the treasurer of the Code Officials Association of Alabama, which presented her with the President’s Award in May.
How did you join the city as a code enforcement officer?
When I interviewed for the position, I told the city manager at the time that I was the person he needed to hire and that he did not need to hire anyone else. I did not have experience in this field, but it seemed interesting, and I am a people person, so I applied. He interviewed other people, but the next thing I knew, I got the phone call to come work for the City of Anniston.
What did you do prior to that?
I drove a truck cross-country for 19 years. I did not even know what code enforcement was before I started, but when I read the job description, I said, “Oh, that sounds fun!” Two totally different types of jobs, but like I said, I am a people person. I like helping people solve their problems and reach their potential.
What are your duties as a code enforcement officer?
I am the senior code enforcement officer, so I handle nuisance complaints, housing issues, city properties, council member requests, demolitions, assisting any other departments that need help also — a little bit of everything.
How are codes implemented and enforced?
The city chooses to adopt certain local codes, and they also adopt the international codes for building, property maintenance and fire codes. I do a lot of enforcement with the property maintenance code because our rental inspections are tied to the property maintenance code. The city has ordinances as far as nuisances for vehicles, grass, debris, trash on property, stagnant water, foreclosed homes that have swimming pools that are green. We follow state law as far as nuisances go.
What do you do when you learn of a code violation?
We try to be more proactive than reactive. We would rather address something if we see it, but we do answer calls from residents. We try to locate an owner of the property. If there is no owner, if it is a property in care of the state for back taxes, we will initiate a nuisance case on it. That means we will take it before council, so they can declare it a nuisance. We go to the next council meeting to have it abated. Once it is declared to be abated, the city can go ahead and hire a contractor to cut the grass or pull a vehicle off.
What if the property is not abandoned?
If there is a situation where someone is living at a property and has not mowed their grass and it is 2 feet tall, we will typically give them 10 days to get it taken care of. If there are extenuating circumstances, we will work with them. Sometimes we find out about a situation where someone is living in a house without utilities; we try to find out what caused the issue. Then we work with outside agencies to try to get them some assistance, so they can get their utilities back on and stay in the home. We also work with outside agencies to try to help the homeless.
What if the property owner won’t cooperate?
Some folks refuse to do anything we ask them to do; our course of action is to cite them for it, or they can go before council and explain why they do not want to take care of the situation.
Faith Dorn is a freelance writer in Anniston. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.