Boulder Code Enforcement cases processed 2015-2018
• Fire Code Violations: 10
• Graffiti: 1,440
• Nuisance abatement: 3
• Outdoor furniture: 215
• Pesticides: 1
• Protection of trees and plants: 18
• Right-of-way: 3,188
• Rodent control: 62
• Smoking in public places: 11
• Snow removal: 3,379
• Trash: 5,326
• Universal Zero Waste: 91
• Utility code violation: 3
• Vehicles, pedestrians and parking: 3
• Weed growth: 4,618
• Woodburning: 7
• Total: 18,375
Source: Boulder police records
Following snowstorms in recent weeks, Boulder code enforcement officers have been inundated by up to 70 phone calls in the days after complaining of property owners who have failed to remove snow or ice from public sidewalks.
"It's definitely a mad rush while we're doing snow enforcement," Boulder code enforcement Supervisor Jen Riley said.
Calls like those — as well as proactive efforts by city officials to identify snowy and icy patches that remain more than 24 hours after snowfall — helped generate more than 3,300 code enforcement cases that were processed from 2015 through 2018, according to Boulder Police Department records.
But that's just a fraction of the 18,375 total cases processed in those four years based on possible city code violations for graffiti, placement of outdoor furniture in front of homes, overgrown weeds and letting trash overflow trash bins or not using a bear-proof trash receptacle in bear-prone west Boulder, among numerous other types of infractions.
City officials are encouraged, however, that their efforts to curb violations through education around Boulder's various quality-of-life ordinances are working after 2018 saw a 28.5 percent dropoff in total cases from the 4,725 processed in 2017; last year marked a 43.2 percent decrease from the 5,951 cases in 2016.
While Cmdr. Jack Walker of Boulder Police Department, which began overseeing the city's code enforcement unit in 2011, said the unit being down to just three officers for most of 2018 from its normal four contributed to the decline, so have efforts focused on lessening violations documented on University Hill.
"We have had a really good group of students on the Hill," Walker said.
Riley noted the vast majority of cases end in voluntary compliance, and that about just more than half of all cases are opened by her unit proactively as opposed to by a complaint.
But Boulder still collected $246,576 in revenue from fines related to code enforcement violations in 2016 and 2017 — that data was not tracked in 2015, and it has not yet been finalized in 2018.
There will be four code enforcement officers once again starting Monday after a new hire, Walker said, but that doesn't necessarily mean the cases the unit opens will shoot back up to the levels prior to last year.
"We're hoping our numbers don't go back up because that means the education that we're doing is working," Boulder police spokeswoman Shannon Aulabaugh said.
Teaching each crop of University of Colorado undergrads set to move off campus every year is done through several avenues, CU Off-Campus Housing and Neighborhood Relations Director Susan Stafford said.
In fact, two new programs that are just starting will involve four students living on the Hill as "ambassadors" between the off-campus student population and the city that will work to advise fellow students on how to be good neighbors. Another set to start this spring will bring Stafford and her staff inside on-campus residence halls to inform students about to make the leap to off-campus housing about the city rules they need to keep up with once they do.
"I'm not responding to as many neighbor concerns. And we don't see the numbers of tickets to CU students that we've seen in past years," Stafford said.
Much of the improvement has been driven by residents of the Hill familiarizing with the requirements to use bear-proof trash containers since the city implemented such a mandate for homes with alley trash pickup west of Broadway and south of Sumac Avenue in 2014, Walker and Aulabaugh said.
But Walker said the code enforcement unit is still looking for creative ways to improve, and plans to ramp up its enforcement against graffiti violations with a new technology this year that will help notice when multiple markings are left by the same perpetrator.
"We're going to try and work smarter at identifying these things," Walker said.
Sam Lounsberry: 303-473-1322, email@example.com and twitter.com/samlounz.