When you walk into a commercial or business building, have you ever thought about the safety of the structure? Or when building or remodeling a house, have you wondered at all the safety codes required?
Thanks to two government entities, our commercial and business buildings are safe, as well as our houses. The Cosumnes Community Services District (CSD), which serves as Galt’s fire department, has two code enforcement officers while the city of Galt has a code enforcement/building inspector – all of whom have your safety at heart.
How often have we seen articles from countries around the world and learned their buildings collapsed or suffered serious destruction due to poor building standards? While we may complain about an overabundance of government laws, when it comes to our safety, we can be thankful for these strict code enforcement laws.
My first encounter with two of the code enforcement officers serving Galt was when a neighbor had concern about a privately owned piece of property directly in back of our houses. The concern was the overgrown trees and dry grass and pine needles.
Bryan Schell, CSD, and Rusty Hughes, city of Galt, came to address the concern, which later was acted upon and settled.
Schell, one of two code enforcement officers for the CSD, investigates safety issues in commercial buildings. His arrival had nothing to do with our houses but with the property behind them. This property is owned by the same person who owns the commercial buildings, which include Raley’s, and are directly in back of our homes.
Schell started in his position two years ago, after working for the district for 14 years and Sacramento fire for six years. He inspects a commercial building about to be occupied by a business to be sure all safety requirements are met. He also deals with complaints that are safety issues, such as a building having blocked exits or broken fire and life safety systems.
All businesses that have more than 49 people within their confines at any one time must have two doors for egress, and no building is allowed to limit egress from that building. Think of some of the horrible fires of the past to realize why this law is so important.
When inspecting a new building, or re-inspecting after a certain period, Schell must see contractors’ licenses if the building has had repairs during that time frame because the repaired building must reach all code requirements. While inspecting a commercial building, Schell requires immediate repair and always returns to be certain the repair was up to code by a licensed contractor.
The one residential responsibility of the fire department is with fire lanes and fire hydrants. Obviously, at all times, fire trucks must be able to freely access homes. For instance, in my small Emerald Village complex, cars are never allowed to park along any of our streets. We have special parking spaces for visitors – for our safety.
Schell is responsible for inspection of the area covering the cities of Elk Grove and Galt, and the Sheldon area from Calvine Road to Liberty Road.
When Hughes started with the city of Galt 16 years ago, he was the sole code enforcement officer. However, with current budget restraints, he also has become the one and only building inspector – giving him a great deal of territory to cover in four days. (The city of Galt is open from Monday through Thursday and closed on Friday.)
The main focus of his job still is code enforcement, which means enforcing the municipal codes, including zoning, health and safety, and property maintenance. Hughes said this means the job is different every day – and also is the reason Galt is a pleasant town in which to live due to its general appearance.
Ninety-nine percent of the people contacted about a code problem are eager to comply, realizing a clean town is an attractive town.
The chief complaint about residential property is its unsightly appearance – maybe a car in the front yard, or no maintenance of the property. Perhaps a neighbor has complained or the property has been noticed by the police while on patrol or by a member of the city beautification committee.
Hughes goes to the property owner and explains the problem. Often the person has no idea of proper maintenance. He then tells them he will return in 10 days to check it out. Remember that 99 percent figure?
“Cooperation is very good in Galt,” he said.
Residents can call the code enforcement office whenever they feel there is a problem or go to the city website. If a vehicle is involved, a call to the police department about vehicle abatement is the best method.
In the case of an apartment complex, the property manager or management company is contacted and always is cooperative in helping to relieve the problem.
“Everyone has the same mindset,” said Hughes, “to keep the city of Galt beautiful.”
As building inspector, he inspects everything, from foundation to final job, to assure the house and/or commercial building meets all codes.
Hughes came to Galt 16 years ago as code enforcement officer. He had been a policeman in Seth, West Virginia where he was born. His father was a coal miner. After college, Hughes was a policeman in his hometown of Seth. However, he had met and married a woman from our Wilton area. They decided to move to Galt, at which point he drove across country a month after 9/11 – “never seeing so much patriotism in my life,” he added.
Be thankful for our government code enforcement officers – they’re here for our safety and the beauty of our city. Can we ask for more?
Durlynn Anema is a retired educator who spent many years in community service, as well as serving on various boards and councils. To contact Anema, send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.