Higher fines proposed for housing code violations

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ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) - Montgomery County's executive supports changes to the housing code, proposing increasing fines for repeat violations by 50 percent.
Ike Leggett told The Washington Examiner that he's been told that code enforcement is uneven, ineffective and hurting quality of life for many in the county.
"We get tons of complaints," Leggett said. "You take a house that works for a five-person family and put 10 adults and lots

ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) - Montgomery County's executive supports changes to the housing code, proposing increasing fines for repeat violations by 50 percent.

Ike Leggett told The Washington Examiner that he's been told that code enforcement is uneven, ineffective and hurting quality of life for many in the county.

"We get tons of complaints," Leggett said. "You take a house that works for a five-person family and put 10 adults and lots of children in there. It's not safe first of all, then you can't park everybody's cars in that driveway so people pave over the grass, park cars all over the sidewalks, that is what we are trying to get at as well."

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Besides raising fines from $500 to $750 a day for repeat offenders, Leggett wants county employees to work with real estate agents to monitor and correct the number of bedrooms advertised in listings for single-family properties; limit the number of vehicles and employees allowed to visit homes where no one is authorized to run a home business, and restrict the number of cars that can be parked in somebody's front yard.

"A house with three or four people in it won't have 10 pails of trash packed up there every few days," Leggett said. "Proper code enforcement can indirectly impact the number of people in the house, which can be tougher to monitor from the county's perspective."

Don Becker is a board member of the Aspen Hill Civic Association. He said his group has been urging the county for years to set an enforceable code.

"The county has had some regulations that weren't really enforced very much," Becker said. "This is a relatively low housing cost area for the county ... it is changing from a more family friendly to a more transient area, with more rental units. People renting often don't understand and aren't as inclined to follow regulations, so it needs to be clear for everybody."

Becker said he hears many complaints about commercial vehicles parked on residential streets and on yards, something he says "degrades" the appearance of his community and makes it so "people who live here can't park in front of their own home."

Information from: The Washington Examiner, http://www.examiner.com



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