OUR OPINION: Tupelo code adds teeth with citations

By NEMS Daily Journal

Sharper teeth in Tupelo’s property ordinances bring to governing the appearance and condition of private property a greater sense of urgency and authority because citations soon can be issued by inspectors – and proof of compliance must be certified in court.
The ticket-writing powers – police powers – begin Feb. 16 following a unanimous vote of the City Council.
The new power should mean faster and more satisfactory resolution of issues like junk cars in front yards, household possessions piled in carports or open garages and grass gone wild in yards and on lots.
The citation/court compliance was initiated by the Development Services Department. In 2011 the department reshuffled its work assignments internally and placed much greater emphasis on inspection and code enforcement – a much-needed initiative to improve Tupelo’s appearance and underscore the necessity of maintenance and good appearance.
Code enforcement claims a higher priority as an element in Tupelo’s justified concern about reclaiming and growing its diminished middle class and its appeal to hold current residents while attracting new ones.
The deeper and larger background issues include restrengthening and improving the public schools and assuring Tupelo’s attractiveness as a business and residential center.
In a general sense, Tupelo is in the process of restoring and refurbishing its “brand.”
Julia Winfield-Pfefferkorn, in research for a master’s degree at Syracuse University, notes that cities focused on their futures must pay attention “to strong brand management.”
She also notes that “The Creative Class,” exceptionally defined in economist Richard Florida’s book, “The Rise of the Creative Class” explains why cities must pursue “the ‘idea’ worker. Florida’s definition of the ‘idea worker’ or ‘creative class’ is people in science, engineering, architecture, education, arts, music and entertainment, whose economic function is to create new ideas, new technology and/or new creative content.”
Winfield-Pfefferkorn notes that “cities are competing for people’s lifestyles, and in order to do this successfully they need to maintain a strong brand. …. For instance, if a city possesses a bad brand image, it is difficult to shake that perception and change public opinion about the city.”
As her research found, a city needs to have a focused strategy “and cooperation between residents, the business community and municipal government in order to be in a position to be proactive rather than reactive to the ever-changing needs of the population.”
The tougher code standard and procedure is a product of those shared concerns.
Other, similar changes probably are ahead as the city sharpens its focus and improves its methods of fulfilling policy.