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City adds code inspectors
Tempe is getting tough on businesses that violate landscape, signage and other city codes.
The city has added inspectors, who are adding more inspections. And business owners are increasingly ratting each other out.
Tempe code compliance inspections reached 176 in November, compared with 37 a year earlier. The city now has four inspectors instead of one, according to Jeff Tamulevich, commercial code compliance supervisor. The inspectors were hired about three months ago.
The number of complaints reported also is rising, reaching 47 last month.
"What happens when we receive a complaint and visit a business, that business complains about the next business," Tamulevich said. "We're finally prepared for it."
One of the most common complaints is landscaping, particularly that businesses are letting weeds grow, chopping down trees or did not plant all the trees they were supposed to. When businesses are approved for developments, they have to specify how many trees they plan to plant to create a buffer between them and neighboring businesses or homes.
Signs are another source of complaints. Tempe doesn't allow banners, sandwich boards or hot-air balloons unless the business has a special permit.
A third issue is businesses such as used-car lots or some home businesses operating in areas not zoned for them.
Tamulevich said the inspectors are issuing more verbal warnings than citations because many new business owners may not be aware of the code.