By Melissa Weinman on January 26, 2012.
Those tired of eyesores littering their neighborhoods now have a way to take matters into their own hands. DeKalb County’s Planning and Sustainability Department has introduced the Neighborhood Ambassadors Program, which allows county residents to become volunteer code enforcement officials. The Neighborhood Ambassadors Program was scheduled to have its first training classes Jan. 23 and Jan. 26. Andrew Baker, interim director of the Planning and Sustainability Department, said about 40 people registered for the program. The county currently has 25 code enforcement field officers, he said. “That’s a good, substantial increase in the number of eyes on the street we will have,” Baker said. “The CEO has been a strong supporter of it because we realize you never can have enough officers on staff and our budget wouldn’t allow us to hire enough anyway.” Though the neighborhood ambassadors won’t have the authority that the field officers do, the ambassadors will be able to help with code enforcement. The volunteers will learn about DeKalb County’s ordinances and how to identify code violations. They will be trained to look for things like signs in the public rights of way, commercial vehicles parked in neighborhoods and overgrown grass and weeds. “They will have ability to remove the signs. They can just pull them up out of the public right of way,” Baker said. “In terms of other violations, we want them to just turn those into us. We will follow up on those complaints within 10 days.” DeKalb County also has clarified its ordinances and made code violations civil, not a criminal, offenses so they are easier to prosecute. “This is just one aspect of what I would call a comprehensive look at code compliance,” Baker said of the Neighborhood Ambassadors Program. Baker said there will be more training sessions for the Neighborhood Ambassadors Program throughout the year. Anyone interested may contact the DeKalb County Code Compliance Division at 404-687-3700for more information.