The carrot and the stick: Funding beautification and code enforcement

There is often tension between funding code enforcement activities or funding beautification projects.

There is often tension between funding code enforcement activities or funding beautification projects. Funding beautification can feel “soft on crime” and funding code enforcement can feel like government overreach into private property. However, investing in code enforcement activities and beautification projects are not mutually exclusive and can have a significant impact on a community’s overall well-being. While both investments increase the welfare, quality of living, tax base, and tourist attractiveness of a municipality, they have very different and complementary roles in a community. 

Code Enforcement Activities

Code enforcement activities involve the enforcement of local laws and ordinances intended to maintain the safety, health and well-being, and prosperity of a community. These activities may include inspections of properties and issuing citations or fines for violations of building codes, zoning laws, and other municipal regulations. Effective code enforcement is necessary for maintaining the safety and health of communities. It helps prevent the spread of blight, reduces criminal activity, ensures the structural integrity of buildings, and preserves property values. Blight has a well-documented negative impact on health outcomes and decreased property values. Code enforcement helps to identify and prioritize areas for remediation and improvement. 

Beautification Projects

Beautification projects, on the other hand, focus on improving the physical appearance of a municipality through various aesthetic improvements. These projects may include adding green space, landscaping, or public art installations. The goal is to create an inviting and visually appealing environment that attracts residents, tourists, and businesses alike. Some cities use beautification competitions while others centralize an approach through a tourism board while others leverage economic development organizations. 

Balancing Funding Beautification and Code Enforcement

Both code enforcement activities and beautification projects are critical components of community and economic development. Arguing for one over the other would mean sacrificing the value of a clean and well-maintained community against the value of a visually appealing environment. However, it doesn’t have to come down to choosing between these two priorities.

Municipalities can strike a balance between both priorities by allocating resources to each according to their needs. For instance, if a particular neighborhood has a high number of code violations, allocating funds toward code enforcement activities could help reduce the sources of blight in that community. This reduction in blight can then provide space for beautification projects in that same neighborhood, helping in enhancing the overall appearance.

In conclusion, the dichotomy between funding code enforcement activities vs. funding beautification projects is a myth. Investing in both of these areas is essential to building a thriving community. The proper allocation of funds can help municipalities achieve balance and promote the well-being and community pride of their citizens.

Need assistance identifying and prioritizing blighted properties? CityDetect can help. Schedule a free consultation today.

Katherine Zobre

Katherine Zobre has ten years of professional grant writing experience working in Economic Development. She has experience with international, federal, local, and nonprofit grants. She also works with economic development agencies to create innovative programs to support equitable growth and support to underserved communities. She has an MS in International Development Studies from The University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and BA in Political Science and Economics from the University of Maryland. Katherine has lived, worked, and volunteered in 11 countries across 5 continents.