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NEIGHBORHOOD FAQ's

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Neighborhood Problems and Issues

Litter Court Information Flyer This document is in Adobe PDF format.  Please download the free Adobe PDF Reader from www.adobe.com.

Requests

How do I file a service request with the City-Parish?

For service requests and general information call the 3-1-1 Call Center by dialing 3-1-1 or 389-3090. The 3-1-1 Call Center is open 5 days a week from 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. to receive citizen inquiries about available parish government services. A call center representative will assist you in finding the appropriate government office. A service request is created and automatically forwarded to the appropriate division to address your needs. You may leave an anonymous request.

Citizens may also submit a service request online by accessing www.brgov.com and clicking on "Request for Service."

The 3-1-1 Call Center services include: general information (hours and location); housing conditions (overgrown lots and yards, junk, trash or debris in yards or open abandoned houses); potholes; traffic signal malfunctions (street sign, traffic and traffic light related concerns); sidewalk concerns (damaged or in need of repair), trash & debris pick up; tree/branch hazards; unpermitted construction and zoning violations.

For domestic animal concerns (stray/loose dogs and cats) call the Animal Control Center at 774-7700.

For Mosquito and Rodent Abatement call 356-3297.

Code of Ordinances

The City-Parish Code of Ordinances is available at: http://brgov.com/dept/council/code.asp

What is the difference between code violations and deed restriction violations?

The Office of The Code of Ordinances is the collection of laws enacted by the Metro Council and enforced by the Police and Sheriff’s Departments. Deed Restrictions are rules set forth in the by-laws of each individual subdivision. The City-Parish does not enforce deed restrictions. Only the subdivision may enforce deed restrictions by following the procedure in their by-laws.

Are neighborhood grants available?

Neighborhood grants are sometimes available. They come with criteria and restrictions. Most of them are designed to revitalize neighborhoods through volunteer action. If you are interested in getting on a list for notification when grants are available please contact the Office of Neighborhoods at neighbors@brgov.com or 389-3039, ext. 106. We also periodically send out information that we deem of interest to neighborhoods to share with their residents. Please let us know if you would like to get on that list.

Students/Renters

What can be done about student parties and related parking problems?

Loud parties are prohibited by the noise ordinance. If a party is ongoing and causing a nuisance, contact the Baton Rouge Police Department at 389-2000 or the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office at 389-5000. Continue to the section on parking for information on what to do about parking in the streets and in yards.

Single Family Housing

How does single family zoning affect my property?

Single family zoning protects your neighborhood. Houses are not allowed to be used for businesses or multi-family housing. Single family homes that are being improperly used generally generate more traffic on streets and create parking problems. Another major concern is the use of a home in a single family neighborhood as a party house, which is statistically more likely when the home is in violation of the single family housing ordinance. (The single family zoning was recently fought in court where the resultant outcome is that there is now no limit to occupancy.)

Zoning districts and uses may be found in Chapter Eight of the at Planning Unified Development Code.

What happens when residential single family dwelling violations are shown to exist by Permit and Inspections Division of the Department of Public Works?

All violations referred to the Parish Attorney’s office are pursued with some form of action until resolved. Some are determined to be qualified non-conforming uses on which no action can be taken. A few are determined to be compliant.

I live next to a duplex with two people in one apartment and one or two in the other. No owner is in residence. It is owned by a realtor. How does this conform to a “non-profit” basis described in single family zoning?

Duplexes are not single family structures. They can only be constructed in multi-family zones. If a duplex is in an A-1 zone, it is probably a non-conforming use and it is unlikely that anything can be done about them. However, many property owners will try to create garage apartments or other detached structures into rental living space, which is a violation of the single family ordinance.

Can a property that has been out of compliance for many years be “grandfathered” in and considered to be in compliance? Cite a specific statute??

Yes. It is considered to be “legal nonconforming.” See statute LRS 9:5625.

Are there consequences to the property owner when issues occur with their tenants and/or property?

The owner and/or any tenant involved in committing the violation are liable and may be fined for the violation. Maximum punishments for violations of city ordinances are a $500 fine and/or up to six months of jail time at the judge's discretion.

Who is responsible for enforcing the Single Family zoning restrictions in neighborhoods?

Enforcement follows a flow chart. After being reported to 3-1-1 the report is sent to the Permit and Inspections Division of the Department of Public Works, which inspects the suspected violation and sends a letter notifying the residents and owner of their violation (if one indeed exists). The Inspector will then check back after a period of time adequate for the property owner or residents to correct the violation. If the property is still in violation the Inspector will inform the Parish Attorney's Office, which will then prosecute the offenders. If necessary, the case will go to City Court. Please call the Planning Commission at 389-3144 to verify zoning.

Are rent houses businesses? Businesses are not allowed in A1 Zoning Districts. Could the laws be changed or strengthened to make these houses businesses officially?

The occupancy of a house by a single family (according to the statutory definition) is considered a single family use, regardless of the nature of the right of occupancy (ownership or rental).

The right to operate rental property in residential zones has been defended by court systems. Denying the right to rent property would create myriad problems, especially for young families who live in compliance to A-1 codes, but cannot afford to purchase a home in such a neighborhood.

Property Value

How can I protect my property value? I own my home.

You can diligently report neighborhood violations to the 3-1-1 Call Center. These might include yards with 51% of the grass over 12 inches high or junk, trash or debris in the yard or carport. Junk cars may be reported to the police at 389-2000 or the Sheriff’s office at 389-5000. Keeping the neighborhood looking nice helps keep values up.

Neighborhoods around the country have successfully dealt with an array of problems and have done so by organizing strong neighborhood associations. Associations can work toward common goals, speak with a unified, stronger voice, organize a neighborhood watch and neighborhood communication system, keep up the appearance of the neighborhood and improve the quality of life. Statistics have shown that strong associations raise property values. To help minimize problems they may present information to city departments or elected officials on behalf of the entire neighborhood. For tips on how to organize, please contact our office at 389-3039, ext. 106 or email us at neighbors@brgov.com.

I’m concerned that these big alcohol parties will turn potential buyers away from my neighborhood.

Your neighborhood should report parties that have become a nuisance. If a party is ongoing and causing a nuisance, contact the Baton Rouge Police Department at 389-2000 in the city limits or the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office at 389-5000 out of the city limits.
 

Enforcement & Response to Complaints

Once I make a complaint call on a property in violation, what kind of follow-up and time frame should I expect, and should I continue to call?

The complaint is investigated within a week. If a violation is found, a letter is sent within another week by Inspections. It gives the property owner 30 days from receipt to correct the violation. The property is then re-inspected and referred to the Parish Attorney’s office if the violation persists. The Parish Attorney sends a certified demand letter ordering compliance within 10 days at which point the property is inspected once again and suit filed, if necessary.

My complaints come at about 3 a.m. I have called the police twice. Slow response by police and lack of resolving the problem is my complaint.

The police must prioritize what calls they respond to. For example, a burglary is something they would respond to before a complaint about loud music. If the officer in question failed to act in a manner you find satisfactory, call the Baton Rouge Police Department at 389-2000 or the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office at 389-5000.

How can we speed up the process of evicting violators of the laws?

You may aid the enforcement agents in gathering evidence, such as dated photographs or other records of violations. This evidence helps the Parish Attorney and the Permit and Inspections Division of the Department of Public Works make their case against the violators.

Why can’t the penalty be enhanced for zoning violations? A $500 penalty is not enough to deter the problem.

City ordinances all have set penalties for violations when categorized as misdemeanors or other lower crimes. A higher fine would require re-classification to a felony, which would require action by the legislature.

How do we go about getting regular police patrols in our neighborhood, especially on weekend nights?

Neighborhoods can request patrols or hire off-duty police officers to patrol their neighborhoods. For more information contact the Baton Rouge Police Department at 389-2000 or the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office at 389-5000.

How can homeowners in a neighborhood bring action without hiring an attorney to see that the laws are enforced?

Report code violations by dialing 3-1-1. The City will pursue code violations and other problems. The Office of Neighborhoods will help you follow-up on the status of the case. If there are chronic problems with a neighbor keep a record of when you had to call the police. You might want to keep a photo account with dated photos. Neighbors are the on-the-spot witnesses for problems. They can be present when the police, sheriff, and city employees can not.

Parking/Traffic

How can we reduce the number of cars parking in street, on grass, and in street right of way? Garbage trucks can’t even get through the street.

Report the violations to the authorities. Call the Baton Rouge Police Department at 389-2000 in the City limits or the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office at 389-5000 out of the city limits.

What can be done to stop chronic speeders on neighborhood streets?

Dial 3-1-1 and ask for a traffic study. The Traffic Engineers will analyze the situation and decide what preventative device might be installed in your neighborhood and if the speeding situation meets the criteria for these devices. Tell them exactly where the speeding is the worst (give an intersection or address) and at what time(s) of day. The more information you can give them the better. The Police or Sheriff might also regularly assign motorcycle officers and radar units to enforce speeding laws in subdivisions as a direct result of citizen complaints.

Can we enforce the “no parking on grass” ordinance?

Yes, by reporting the violations to the authorities. Call the Baton Rouge Police Department at 389-2000 or the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office at 389-5000.

Blight/Trash

How can civic associations address old cars, trash, overgrown yards/lots or open vacant houses?

To report old cars, trash, or open, abandoned homes they should call 3-1-1 or 389-3090 or submit complaints online at
https://brgov.com/apps/crs.

Can we report problems to law enforcement anonymously? I’m afraid the neighbors will get even with me.

Yes, one can report any violations anonymously by calling the Baton Rouge Police Department at 389-2000 or the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office at 389-5000.

Could a new function, such as a parking violation patrol be established to give tickets for parking complaints?

If recommended by the Mayor-President and approved by the Metro Council.

Could the Parish Attorney use legal channels to identify the owners of the automobiles from license plate photographs provided by the complainant?

They already do this. The Parish Attorney’s Office runs the license plates through Department of Motor Vehicles, if a lawsuit is contemplated.

A-1 Zoning Scenario

Currently the Parish Attorney states that neither real estate agents, brokers, property managers, nor realtors come under their jurisdiction to litigate and assess penalties. Why does UDC section 6.7 A. not apply?

Zoning violations are based on use, what is permitted and not permitted. The realtors, etc. are not actually committing the usage violation. There is currently no law which prohibits acting as agent for a transaction that ultimately results in a use violation.

What are the existing civil penalties for owners and occupants who are found to have violated UDC by the Parish Attorney?

Fines of up to $500. and/or six months in jail at the discretion of the Judge.