Google Earth: Spying Housing-Code Scofflaws

Google Earth is something Frank Cassidy is definitely familiar with. As president of the Florida Association of Code Enforcement, he sees it as a valuable tool for address identification and for getting some history on a property. He also says statewide agencies have begun using Google Earth as a tool for investigating illegal additions to homes and other code violations.

Cassidy, who has been in the business more than 20 years and is a former Los Angeles police officer, told HousingWatch: "The primary way the housing market is affecting our job is that our goal of compliance is being jeopardized due to foreclosed properties -- because there's no responsible party coming forward.

"So that in itself is forcing agencies to do their job more effectively and proactively," he says. Google Earth, among other tools, is playing an increasingly important role.

The free online application is used to look at a property's development from different shots and angles. But Cassidy is quick to point out that it's a supplementary tool, not the sole resource.