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Date of Issue: January 11, 2007

Woodland wants code policy reviewed

Anna Maria City Commissioner Dale Woodland said it's time the commission review its policy to allow anonymous complaints to the code enforcement officer and the issue is on the agenda for the commission's Jan. 11 worksession.

"I just think it's time we discuss the policy," said Woodland. "I can see the pros and cons of each side, and I consider it valid to discuss each point."

But Woodland is going to offer an alternative to allowing anonymous complaints or requiring a complaint be signed before action.

His suggestion to the commission will be that the person who wants to complain anonymously can go to the mayor and present valid reasons for wishing to remain anonymous. If the mayor agrees the complaint is justified as well as the the reason(s) to remain anonymous, the complaint will be forwarded to the code enforcement officer under the mayor's signature. If the mayor disagrees, no action is taken - at least not until the complainant signs his/her complaint.

Presently, the commission policy is that code enforcement is "reactive" to complaints, rather than "proactive." Additionally, the policy now is to allow anonymous complaints, but that policy has often resulted in complaints simply because a resident wanted to "get even" with someone or become a neighborhood "vigilante."

In one instance several years ago, more than 130 code violations were reported anonymously at the same time by one person. Under the anonymous policy, the city was obligated to take action.

Both Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach have a "reactive" policy and allow anonymous complaints.