The short answer is yes.
Monroe has one. It works well for enforcement of it’s property standards ordinances. It is a division of the Monroe city court.
Property standards codes are designed to protect the safety and welfare of individual citizens and the community at large. Unkept properties lead to neighborhood blight, and all the associated ills such as "blight creep", crime, declining property values and ad valorem tax revenues.
Shreveport’s Department of Property Standards has five enforcement responsibilities:
a. High grass/weeds—exceeding 12 inches;
b. Inoperable vehicles—any motor vehicle incapable of being moved under its own power;
c. Care of premises—junk, trash, debris, building material, improper storage, appliances, car parts or dismantled vehicles, swimming pools in disrepair or neglected state, fallen trees or unsound fences;
d. Securing of premises—any vacant dwelling, building, or structure that has open windows, open doors, or missing windows and doors, which are potentially dangerous to the safety of any person;
e. Demolition—substandard structure that have a roof caving in, that has been burned, deteriorated porches, walls, steps, garage or shed, and those in need of severe protective treatment.
The Shreveport citation procedure is burdensome and time-consuming. It may take 6 months or longer from the initial citation until resolution by a Shreveport city court judgment.
Monroe’s enforcement process is streamlined.
A Monroe property standards inspector investigates complaints from citizens and other agencies. These include police, fire, elderly protective service, health department, and home health agencies.
For violations a summons is issued by the inspector that notifies the property owner(s) with instructions for code compliance. The summons also includes the date and time of the Environmental Court hearing. The property is re-inspected if the property owner advised of compliance. In that case, the case is dismissed by the inspector.
The property is also inspected the day before the Environmental Court appearance. An administrative hearing is then held for the property owner and code enforcement personnel.
The court’s hearing officer rules on alleged violations and issues orders for code compliance. This can include securing of premises and/or demolition. After re-inspection, the case is closed if in compliance. It not, it is forwarded to the district court in Monroe for further action.
By contrast, the Shreveport enforcement is a drawn out process that, at best, results in a fine for the offending property owner. Often it becomes an almost never-ending cycle of citation after citation with no long term solution.
Establishment of an Environmental Court will require approval of the mayor, the city council and Shreveport city judges. This may necessitate funding of an administrative hearing officer and additional property standards personnel.
The Shreveport system is not working well. In contrast, Monroe’s Environmental Court has a proven track record of success. It certainly merits a close look.