Code enforcement stats from a busy department in Southampton.

Board Eyes Code Stats

Hampton Bays is the busiest hamlet for enforcers of Southampton town’s codes and ordinances. Last week Steve Troyd presented stats that back up the statement.

During last Thursday’s town board work session, the town’s public safety and emergency management administrator offered a breakdown of data comparing complaints and investigations from 2016 to those in 2017 and the first quarter of this year.

Troyd began work in Southampton last September. The presentation comprised an update of department activity since he took the helm.

There were 1949 master incident reports logged last year, beginning with March, when a new tracking system was implemented. Those compare to 2426 master incident reports in 2016. A master incident report is enforcement–ese for a new investigation. A month-by-month breakdown of the MIs showed the summer months — May through August — had the highest activity, with 305 in June 2017 compared to 282 during the same timeframe the prior year. There was an uptick of almost 100 new investigations when Troyd came on board.

Supplemental reports, aka investigations launched from complaints, almost doubled — “a dramatic difference,” Troyd said — from 2016 (814) to 2017 (1512). Targeted code enforcement “surges” are shown with upticks in investigations last September, October, and December that correspond with the surges in Hampton Bays, Flanders, and Hamptons West. In September, investigations swelled from 63 in 2016 to 149 in 2017. In October, they went from 62 to 177.

The stats show more Notices of Violation were given out in 2016, at 942, compared to 2017 (787). However, Troyd pointed out that in 2016, 50 field appearance tickets were given to Uber drivers before the state allowed ride-sharing services to operate on the East End.

Breaking the data down by hamlet, NOVs given out in Hampton Bays dwarf those in other Southampton communities. Some 298 were given in 2016, with 219 delivered in 2017. Flanders saw 125 last year compared to 92 in 2016.

Next up, Troyd offered an analysis of charges by type of violation. Violations of the New York State code and zoning code were at the forefront. Topping the numbers were infractions such as illegal accessory apartments, parking cars in the front yard, heavy commercial vehicles left at residential properties, or changes of use such as turning a living room into a bedroom.

Building violations, that is, construction without permits, were down from 384 in 2016 to 299 last year. Violations for failure to comply with codes related to rental properties remained static, at 156 and 157 respectively. Front yard parking and change of use violations were the most prevalent.

Troyd described the volume of state code violations related to swimming pool safety as “incredibly high,” with 379 lodged in 2016 and 189 last year. He suggested the town embark on an educational outreach program.

Field Appearance Tickets are given when a situation demands immediate attention, or the suspected violator is transient — like an out of town contractor. In 2016, 65 contractors received FATs, compared to 43 last year.

Moving to the first quarter of this year, Troyd reported 61 complaints received from Riverside, 51 from Hampton Bays, and 50 from Westhampton. Speaking to the spike in Westhampton, Troyd observed a high volume of illegal rental properties. Property maintenance complaints were the most numerous, with illegal rentals also at the top of the list. So far this year, the department received 401 complaints, and issued 125 NOVs and 32 field appearance tickets. Twenty of the complaints were deemed unfounded, meaning a visit to the property resulted in no violations discovered. In 90 cases, there was compliance, which is the number one goal of the department.

Under the town’s rental registry laws, code enforcement officers may conduct inspections of rental properties. An owner may also undertake the inspection privately. Troyd reported 222 new rental applications received this year, 118 permits issued, and 343 inspections undertaken.

Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said he wants to make sure the department focuses on “things people care about:” infractions that interfere with neighbors’ enjoyment of their properties and issues that endanger public health and safety.