New code enforcement officer makes impact in Covington

Covington has found a solution for code enforcement: Brian Bykonen.

Covington has found a solution for code enforcement: Brian Bykonen.

“Our former code enforcement officer left in August,” said Community Development Director Richard Hart. “So, we’ve been trying to figure out how to provide code enforcement services.”

Bykonen, who was already working part-time for the city, seemed to be a natural choice after the City Council asked for a report on how code enforcement works in Covington.

It was particularly important to have someone managing code enforcement, which ranges from dealing with residents building garages or decks without proper permitting to excess trash in a homeowner’s yard, since the Timberlane Homeowner’s Association went through a major change earlier last year.

“They’ve become more active and they’re policing more of their code violations,” Hart said. “And we’re responding to that. So Robert Meyers, the building official, and I have ben working to revamp and change our code enforcement process with the limited resources we have.”

Having a part-time position for code enforcement is challenging, Hart said, but Bykonen seems to be a perfect fit.

“Brian has done an absolutely fantastic job and taken a case load in the upper 50s and gotten people to comply and brought that case load down by almost half,” Hart said. “He’s really managed a lot of the new cases that Timberlane has brought to us and is working with their board members … I think everybody’s been very pleased.”

Bykonen explained he has helped implement new programs to streamline code enforcement.

“We’re doing a new filing system and it’s going to mirror what we’ve been doing with the other development services,” he said. “We keep a temporary file as the cases are open and as they’re close out we keep a paper trail of them. They’re a little easier to track.”

When a case comes in, Bykonen said, it is evaluated to determine if it is a high, moderate or low priority issue.

Fire and life safety cases are high priority and dealt with as quickly as possible.

“Then we have what we call a moderate priority which are other building issues, somebody may be building a deck or a garage, not a habitable space but people are going to use it,” Bykonen said. “If we don’t have anything active that’s a high priority we try to get to the moderate cases. Then we have low priority… things we can deal with when we have the time.”

And time management is important because Covington provides code enforcement services for Black Diamond as part of a interlocal agreement to cut costs.

In the coming weeks, Bykonen will have a new tool at his disposal that will allow him to know at a glance what cases are going on, so if he happens to be in a neighborhood dealing with a high priority case and is just a few blocks from another case he can take care of it while he’s nearby.

Streamlining code enforcement is critical, Hart added.

“It improves our ability to track and it improves our ability to respond to someone who asks two or three weeks later about how the case is going,” Hart said. “It will allow us to be more efficient and manage our hours better.”