Can the city of Galveston win, or, more likely, simply improve in its ancient struggle with code violations through an internet-based tracking system?
It’s worth a try, we suppose.
If you missed the news story appearing Tuesday, here’s the issue:
The city on Monday unveiled updates to its code enforcement tracking system, including new ways for residents to submit and follow code violation complaints online.
With the update, online users can now submit complaints anonymously and track them through case numbers or a map.
“Our goal in this was to ensure that our residents have an accessible tool online that allows them to report violations with ease and follow how we handle them from start to finish,” City Manager Brian Maxwell said.
A previous version of the software allowed residents to view a history of complaints online, but the former tracking system “was not in a highly visible area on the website and its functionality was limited,” the city said.
The city can also assign case numbers to each violation, which can now be input into the code enforcement website www.galvestontx.gov/codeenforcement. A tracking map on the website additionally pinpoints locations of code violations. Progress on the cases can be followed online, according to the city.
Residents have flogged the city for years — sometimes fairly, sometimes not — for slow, spotty enforcement of codes meant to make Galveston a safer, healthier and more attractive place to live.
The island has not been alone in receiving the ire of residents over grass that’s too tall, junk cars parked where they ought not be parked and dilapidated structures of all kinds, to name a few. Most cities get some of that, and the older a city is and the less homogenized its population is, the more it’s apt to hear complaints about code violations.
While the ease of reporting and tracking code complaints doesn’t necessarily equal speed and consistency in code complaints getting corrected, it’s hard to see how this new system could hurt the effort.
One clear benefit of the new system is that it may add eyes to the posse policing code violations, the lack of which has sometimes been offered as a reason why there are so many and so many long-standing ones.
We applaud the city for rolling the new system out, hope it does some noticeable good and encourage residents to use it a lot. Although words encouraging Galveston residents to use a new way to complain may be the most unnecessary words we’ve ever written.
• Michael A. Smith