Legislation that would ban anonymous code complaints except in certain circumstances cleared its final Senate committee Thursday, and will head to the Senate floor.
Sen. Jennifer Bradley’s bill (SB 60) requiring code complainants to put their names on their claims cleared the Rules Committee.
Bradley, a Republican from Fleming Island, said the intent of the bill is to deter citizens from filing frivolous complaints and to ensure code enforcement isn’t used as a “pawn.”
Bradley noted that code enforcement still has latitude to investigate issues independently of complaints.
The bill has changed during the committee process. A previous committee stop added language allowing anonymous complaints if there is a threat of imminent destruction of natural resources or to health, welfare, and safety. Short of that threshold, a name would have to be affixed to the claim.
Sen. Jeff Brandes expressed concerns he’d heard that complaints could lead to harassment from neighbors. Bradley advised that they should call law enforcement should it “get to that level.”
The sponsor said the measure would actually reduce conflict among neighbors in “communities where it’s used rather abusively.”
“For your run of the mill, your grass is too long, that only becomes an issue if they make a public records request,” Bradley counseled Brandes, a libertarian-minded Republican.
The Rules Committee analysis of the bill contends that there may be a “reduction in complaints filed due to individuals not wanting to provide personal identifying information. Thus, this may lead to less resources being utilized by local code enforcement.”
There is a companion bill moving in the House. The House Local Administration & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee advanced HB 883 from Palm City Republican Rep. Toby Overdorf this week by a 13-4 vote.