TAMPA, Fla. - Chronic code violators in Tampa may soon face a judge and jail time.
During a workshop Thursday morning, city council worked with the city's legal department and code enforcement to draft a new "chronic violator" status.
A chronic violator will be defined as "…a violator who has received 3 violations or notices of violation in the past one year for violations of the same City Code sections on the same non-homestead property located in the city of Tampa."
"We are trying our best to address the blight in the city of Tampa," said Tampa Code Enforcement Director Jake Slater.
The city's best is not good enough for neighborhood advocate Pete Johnson, who attends every city council meeting, demanding accountability and change.
"Here's one that goes on for years and years and years," Johnson said.
Johnson's referring to Greenpark Residences, a mobile home park that code enforcement condemned after ABC Action News began a series of stories on it last year.
Despite it's uninhabitable conditions and 20 years of violations, and the property continues to operate 19 rental units.
"If we're going to do something and be serious about this, this is the time to do it," Councilman Frank Reddick said.
If the new ordinance passes a vote, landlords and tenants will start with a clean slate. Code officers will not start counting their violations until the ordinance is in effect.
"I don't think it allows for a look-back into the past year because the offender was not on notice that their act might put them in jeopardy of actually being incarcerated," Councilman Harry Cohen said.
It's more likely chronic violators will face a fine of $500. Also, the ordinance takes into account one's financial status.
"There's young people who are suffering.There's family people, young family people, who are in dire straights," Yolie Capin.
Several owners of current problem properties live out of state, which city officials admit will pose a challenge.
Johnson won't hold his breath, but will continue to hold his file of code violations, which he brings to City Hall every Thursday.
"All of this great talk unless the administration shows some improvements," Johnson said.
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