Violations on Downswing

Code violations issued in the Town of East Hampton fell by roughly 100 in the first six months of 2018 over last year, the town’s public safety director told the town board on Tuesday, and a crackdown on out-of-town taxi companies is largely responsible, he said. 

In a year-to-date report to the board, David Betts said that 1,279 violations were recorded from January through June, versus 1,372 in the same period last year. “If you look at taxi validation, that’s about the difference,” he said. 

Taxi companies are required to register with the town using a local business address, and all taxis must have a town permit sticker. Taxi validations are down from 241 to 80, Mr. Betts said, because “if a company doesn’t come out here to have an office, we don’t do the inspection of the cab.” That, he said, translates to “161 taxicabs that are not operating in the Town of East Hampton at this point.” 

But violations related to contractor licenses, which are also required, as well as parking, have increased, Mr. Betts said. Enforcement efforts for the former, he said, “have gone up dramatically, almost 25 percent.” In the first six months of 2018, 123 violations were issued, versus 96 in the same period last year. “Parking tickets are dramatically increased as well,” he said. Last year, 88 violations were issued through June; 126 were issued in the first six months of 2018. 

Violations issued for artists’ studios fell from 124 to 98, Mr. Betts said. Such structures, which sometimes morph into habitable space, are inspected annually. “Some of them have stopped claiming use as an artist studio,” he said. 

Violations of determinations by the architectural review board, zoning board of appeals, and planning board stood at eight through June, versus 27 in the same period last year. Separately, violations of the zoning code, such as noncompliance with required setbacks, or pertaining to structures like fences or decks, are down from 243 to 208. 

Twelve violations were issued for peddling without a license through June, versus just one in the same period last year. Violators were often peddling wares from vehicles parked on commercial and public property, Mr. Betts said. 

Environmental infractions, such as illegal clearing of vegetation or improper drainage of a swimming pool, were down by just one, from 164 to 163.

Safety violations, such as open foundations or swimming pools that are not properly fenced, rose from 98 to 109, Mr. Betts said. 

Housing violations have fallen from 92 to 54. Rental registry violations fell to 28 from 31. Lighting violations were up slightly, from 8 to 12, but residential noise infractions fell from 36 to 20. 

Eight citations related to peace and good order — public consumption of alcoholic beverages and public urination are the common infractions — were issued between January and June, versus three in the first six months of 2017. Signage violations fell in the first six months of 2018 over 2017, 31 to 26. 

Violations of state code, which Mr. Betts said are mostly to do with property maintenance, were nearly static: 41 in the first six months of 2018, one more than the same period last year. 

“Keeping compliance throughout the town is not just about enforcing rules,” Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said. “It’s really about public safety as well.” He referred to the town’s execution of a warrant last week that resulted in the discovery that 32 unrelated people were residing in a four-bedroom house, 18 of them apparently sleeping in the basement, where a gasoline generator and storage tank were situated. 

“It’s comforting to know not only that the quality of life issues are being addressed through code enforcement, but it’s also public safety,” he said.