I mentioned in the blog post yesterday that the City’s Code Enforcement Officer, Paul Bauer, passed his certification for the International Property Maintenance Code which we use here in Kent.
Two thumbs up for Paul — but also a round of applause for safety in Kent which all of us should cheer about.
I realize the title Code Enforcement Officer doesn’t necessarily bring out “warm fuzzy” feelings but that’s unfortunate because the Code was adopted to make sure everybody in Kent stays as safe — and frankly, Paul is a “people-first,” thoughtful person who looks at his job as a way to contribute to safety not write citations.
Fortunately, we live at a time when building codes have evolved to the point where safety is built-in to the buildings that we live, work and shop in, so the catastrophic fires or that plagued early 20th century neighborhood blocks are mostly a thing of the past — which is great but we still have to guard against a sense of complacency that lets safety slip.
That’s where Paul comes in; his job asks him to play the role of our community conscious. He patrols with a knowledge of what can happen if the safety that was built into structures around town is allowed to deteriorate.
Deterioration happens, and time has a way of turning our favorite structures into trouble spots if we’re not diligent about upkeep.
That’s a truism for every structure but it’s particularly evident in college towns where lots of rentals, full of lots of students, lead to situations where the demands placed on older structures can be overwhelming.
Day to day safety is a concern at older, poorly maintained properties, but when you throw in college parties, it’s a situation that keeps Paul up at night.
The City and Kent State’s efforts over the last 5 years to ramp up our safety messages, and stay out in front of safety problems, has worked — party injury calls are down in Kent — but an incident at Cal-Poly over St. Patrick’s Day this spring was a reminder of what can happen when things go bad, and why Paul and his co-workers are so important in our community.
Watch the video of the garage collapse: Cal-Poly garage roof collapse
If one reminder was not enough, a collapsed balcony in Berkeley this summer, killing 6 students, provided a tragic example of what can happen when dry rot combines with a heavier than normal load.
Berkeley City Council has responded by tightening their maintenance standards.
Maintenance matters because safety matters.