Memphis adds new code enforcement officers to help with blighted properties

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The City of Memphis has added code enforcement officers to address complaints like trash issues in neighborhoods and shopping centers across the city.

Mayor Jim Strickland announced the 27 new code enforcement officers Monday, bringing the total number of officers to 61.

He said the additional officers will bring the city’s total to the most in 30 years.

"This was very much needed," Memphis City Council member Martavius Jones said. "Some of the complaints that we get about the conditions of our city could be just minor code violations, but if you don’t have enough code enforcement officers to enforce what our codes are to keep our clean city, then we needed to do something like this."

Seventeen officers will fill vacant first-shift positions, said Dan Springer with the city. The other 10 officers will be assigned to the new second shift operations that is scheduled to start March 10.

Business owners hope the additional eyes from these enforcement officers will get people to follow the rules.

Liz Kinnmark has offered fitness classes in her downtown studio for the last three years Now needing to expand, she started looking for an affordable place.

Her search led her to a vacant building off Lamar.

"The one catch is that it needs basically a complete renovation," Kinnmark said.

The property needs an interior and exterior makeover, as it has basically become a dump site while sitting empty for years.

The issue is a familiar one for many communities in the city of Memphis.

"And it’s a shame because what starts out as not that big of a deal continues to get worse as you have squatters, people stashing stuff in the bushes, all this kind of stuff," Kinnmark said.

Now as the new owner of this building, she’s hopeful more code enforcement officers will help improve those issues.

Kinnmark hopes the additional help will encourage other businesses to invest into what could come of blighted property.

"We’re hopeful that if we build our little corner up, there’s a vacant lot across the street that may become something," Kinnmark said. "It’s a bigger piece. It’s not about the one building. It’s about the neighborhood."

The officers completed training and officially graduated Friday. They are receiving their assignments this week.

Is there any particular area or issue they will focus on?

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