A Message From Our Director
On behalf of our exceptional Austin Code team, it is my great pleasure to present to you our 2018 Year in Review.
This annual report provides a snapshot of our work, and highlights the outstanding results we've accomplished
together, in partnership with the Austin community. We hope you enjoy learning more about the services of Austin Code and how we are building a greater Austin together through Code Education, Collaboration and Enforcement!
Last year, our “New Way Forward” proved to be a valuable tool in helping transform the department into a high-performing organization. Through the implementation of a department-wide realignment, enhanced inspector performance expectations, and the addition of 24 new full-time employees, we positioned ourselves to expand our customer service ability to respond to the diverse and rapidly changing needs of the Austin community. As we’ve made such great strides, we’d like to take this opportunity to celebrate and let you know about our achievements.
We are proud to report that the Austin Code Education and Outreach Team organized several code education and stakeholder collaboration events, increasing our total code events held by 117%, and our stakeholder engagement and neighborhood meetings by 206% over last year’s totals. We also established Code Connect, a dedicated code education phone line available for callers to ask questions and gain insight from a knowledgeable team of code inspectors, 5 days a week. Code Connect is designed to inform, guide, and educate callers on code topics, and to allow the public to follow up on existing code violation cases. This important new tool helped strengthen our relationship with the community, increased public awareness of City codes, proactively prevented violations, increased voluntary compliance, and ultimately helped improve the safety and quality of our great city.
In an effort to streamline our services to be more accessible to the public, our outstanding Short-Term Rental (STR) team issued over 2,000 operating licenses and collaborated with the City Controller’s office to establish a website for customers to submit license applications and pay hotel operating taxes online. With the establishment of an extended hours’ enforcement team, our code inspectors were available to respond to customer complaints outside of regular business hours—until 8:00 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays. In doing so, we were better able to accommodate the schedules of customers who may request assistance during those times.
We also intensified our progressive enforcement and case escalation efforts, resulting in a 49% increase in violations found at Repeat Offender Program (ROP) properties, and a 46% increase in cases escalated to the Building and Standards Commission (BSC) to enforce involuntary compliance. In doing so, our collections efforts registered a 4,210% increase in collected fines and penalties for improved fiscal stewardship to our customers. Lastly, with our new productivity standards in full swing, our hard-working field inspectors performed a total of 63,680 inspections—that’s a 67% increase over the previous year’s work!
As Director of Austin Code, I look forward to continuing to making significant progress in FY 2019, as we implement innovative solutions and establish new department goals to align with the City of Austin’s Strategic Plan 2023. These updated goals are: 1) To strengthen community relations, awareness, and understanding of local code requirements; 2) To ensure safe, healthy, and legal uses of Austin lands and properties; 3) To deliver fair, equitable, and transparent enforcement of City codes; and 4) To integrate innovative solutions to meet the dynamic needs of the community.
I am excited and hopeful we can achieve these goals, and I am committed to ensuring that Austin Code is progressively working to reflect upon and improve our approach to work. I know that when we think big and partner together, we can overcome our challenges and create the best solutions for Austin. On behalf of the department, I’d like to express our sincere thanks as we look forward to another exciting year of service to our great city! As a department, we continue to rely on our internal and external partnerships to make Austin a safer place to live, work, and play. We look forward to building a greater Austin through education, collaboration and enforcement.