Civic boon or ‘tattle-tale brigades’?

When a proposal came before the City Council Tuesday to set up a pilot program of volunteers to assist Code Enforcement officers in locating possible violations, some people worried that the extra eyes might peer intrusively. Councilman Larry Wahl, for example, called them “tattle-tale brigades”; Councilman Steve Bertagna had earlier called them “neighborhood Nazis.”

The idea is to train neighborhood residents to be able to recognize code violations and report them to the city, similar to a Neighborhood Watch program. Volunteers would work in their own neighborhoods, but not in the blocks right around their own homes, to avoid potential conflicts. Such programs are working in cities such as Modesto and Riverside.

Residents of the Avenues and Southwest Chico neighborhoods, where the program would be implemented, told the council they supported the concept. They noted the city, with its reduced funds, could use the help. The council voted 5-2 to authorize $5,000 to fund the program, with Wahl and Bertagna dissenting.