Eastpointe Country Club and Palm Beach County Zoning Officials.
Below is a sad tale of modern day dereliction of duty, threats, bullying, inaction plus failure to lead or act within their own guidelines and regulations. The views expressed are simply my opinions. We will post as many documents and emails as possible which will allow the reader to form their own opinions. The episode cost me a few thousand dollars, a few hundred hours and many sleepless nights, but at the conclusion, I came away without any violation proved against me. The same cannot be said however, for the 11 other innocent homeowners caught up in this and the eventual buyer of my house who was again violated after my violations were dismissed. They were all collateral damage and suffered as a result of the unfair and unethical actions of the code enforcement department along with all the county officials tasked with ensuring complaints are properly investigated as well as the county policies and code of practice and guidelines are strictly adhered to. I am only publishing this information as a matter of principle, to highlight the injustices suffered by all the innocent homeowners and in the hope that better policies and procedures may be put in place in future to prevent a repeat of this saga.
The below events demonstrate, in our opinion, a pattern of at best unethical and at worst unlawful actions against 12 homeowners/residents of the prestigious Eastpointe Country Club. We will lay out all the facts and you decide for yourselves. You may come to the conclusion that officials charged with running this county are not acting in its residents best interests. If you do, we encourage you to bring this to the attention of your congressman/senator which is what we intend to do. As for Eastpointe Country Club, who initiated this chain of events and whose president (we think) made abusive threats against a resident. If you have friends or relatives who live there, it may be worth bringing this matter to their attention so they can take action against their own officials who are supposed to be working on their residents behalf, If you know people planning to move there, it may be worth showing them this website so they can make an informed opinion before doing so.
Listed below are all the Palm Beach County Officials and Eastpointe Country Club management who were party to the events and, we will demonstrate, in my opinion, at some point acted either unlawfully or unethically and certainly failed to follow their own guidelines and codes of practice.
Palm Beach County Officials
Shannon Fox Assistant County Attorney Palm Beach County
Doug Wise Building Official Palm Beach County
Ramsay Bulkeley Esq Deputy Director, Planning Zoning and Building, Palm Beach County
Osmar Kasal Code Enforcement Officer Palm Beach County
Robert Santos Alborna Code Enforcement Director, Palm Beach County
Richard Torrance Code Enforcement Supervisor, Palm Beach County
Eastpointe Country Club Officials
Michael Slutsky President Property Owners Association Inc
Susan Warren D'Ambrosia LCAM Eastpointe Property Owners Association Inc
Ayelin Sanchez Eastpointe Property Owners Association Inc
If you wish to see the communications between ourselves and Eastpointe POA officials, they can be seen HERE (opens in a new window)
Other pages include written transcript of the hearing along with our comments HERE (opens in a new window)
Details of the violations issued to innocent Eastpointe Homeowners are HERE (new window)
Audio of our case at the special magistrate HERE (opens in a new window)
Audio of the whole days cases at the special magistrate HERE (opens in a new window)
Almost every piece of information on this website if a matter of public record. You can obtain copies to check for yourself by making a public records request to the record keeper at firstname.lastname@example.org and paying a fee for production of the records. This same address can be used to obtain any public record held in palm beach county. Many people do not realize this fact, all internal and external communication by county officials are public records and have to be supplied on written request. If you require more information on any case mentioned here, or any other past or present case in palm beach county, please make your own public records request to the above email address.
This drama began with the purchase of a property in the prestigious Eastpointe Country Club. This is a club with a supposedly good reputation that charges high yearly fees for social, golf membership etc. In August 2016 we purchased a property located at 13867 Eastpointe Way in a tax deed sale. Before purchasing this property, as with all our purchases, we completed our due diligence, we viewed the property and ensured that all structures were noted on the property appraisers website. We noted that the property was built in 1977 and that the property appraiser website showed as also having a Patio, Carport and Utility Building all built in 1977, the same time as the property. Armed with this information and not expecting any future problems relating to the structure, we completed our purchase and proceeded with its internal remodel.
The property appraiser website screenshot can be seen below, note the year of the Utility Building along with its outline at the center of the southern wall which will become extremely relevant later.Property Appraiser screenshot for 13867 Eastpointe Way.
During December 2016, my wife Pamela received a telephone call from a man who identified himself as code enforcement Osmar Kosal from Palm Beach County Code Enforcement department. He stated that it had come to his attention that a utility building on the property was actually built on HOA land and would have to be torn down. I spoke to Officer Kasal and asked about the possibly of obtaining a permit for the build but was told it would not be possible as it was not on land owned by the house. He said he was issuing a violation coupled with a threat of daily fine of up to $1000 for non compliance.
It turned out that the HOA had made the original complaint to code enforcement as a neighbor wanted to build a garage on their house and felt the shed was preventing this. Eastpointe Employee Ayelin Sanchez along with the neighbor Judith had been in regular contact with code enforcement pressuring them to take action. Around this time, whilst at the property, Pamela Ferrari was approached by two people who pulled up on a golf cart, (she now knows these two people to be Ayelin Sanchez and Judith Hirsch) these people informed my wife that the shed was on HOA land and needed to be dismantled.
Most of the communications with Eastpointe officials along with the abuse and threats received from them can be found on THIS PAGE
Copy of the initial violation code enforcement internal case notes are HERE
Its shows they are themselves confused and end up issuing violations against both homeowner and HOA. We then visited the Property Appraisers office to try and make some sense of this. They checked their records and told us that they did not keep detailed records for 40 years ago. But based on their research and the records as shows, they would have visited the site during the build, noted down any additional structures therein, added their value for tax purposes. in this case they found Utility building, carport and patio. They would have then added the square footage and date of build to the website. All were showing as 1977, it seemed so simple and straightforward. The property appraiser said they were surprised to hear that code enforcement were causing us any problem as they usually rely on the property appraiser information as accurate.
The only reason we pushed back against code enforcement was that this seemed so clear cut. Shed was built with the house, no harm, no foul. Lets all move along, nothing to see here.
We made numerous attempts to contact Officer Kosal over the following weeks. All were ignored until he left a voicemail on the 20th December stating we either had to obtain a permit for the shed or remove it. Previous enquiries had led us to believe that had the shed in fact been built on common HOA ground and stood for 40 years then the ownership of the land would likely be transferred the house if they had enjoyed exclusive use of it for so many decades.
I sent the following email or Officer Kosal on the 20th December 2016 requesting more information. This email went unanswered and can be viewed HERE
Later that same day, another email was sent from Terry Ferrari to officer Kosal, copy of the email is HERE
Officer Kosal did not reply to the either email but instead left a message the next day asking us to return his call. I sent the following email asking that he please stick to written communication so we all had written records going forward. Copy of the email is HERE
A further email was sent later that day, copy of email is HERE
I become frustrated at the lack of response from Officer Kosal and sent the following email to him on 12/28
Copy of the email is HERE
Officer Kosal finally responded below stating he had passed my complaint to his superiors and the county attorney for review. (I naively expected common sense to prevail at this point.)
Copy of the email is HERE
I replied to Officer Kosal reiterating once again that I wished our communications to remain in writing so we all had record of them going forward. Copy of that email is HERE
Fast forward to April 2017. I received a copy of the survey that showed the shed sat on the house land all along. Feeling jubilation at last, I emailed Officer Kosal the good news along with pictures of the shed etc. I felt the email was articulate and well thought out. It was polite not abusive. I fully expected him to close the matter at that point. After all, we now had proof that his initial allegation to me that the shed was built on HOA land was incorrect and without any foundation. Normally when people make a mistake, they say something like 'Oh I'm sorry', or 'my bad' and we all move on. But not in this case. Copy of my email to officer Kosal is HERE
I then received a notice of violation taped to my gate for the shed. At this point I was of course livid. I sent the following email expressing my frustration to Officer Kosal (who as usual had failed to respond to my previous email) on 4-25-2017
Copy of the email is HERE
Myself and my wife were at our wits end at this point, we felt that we had been treated extremely unfairly. So we drafted a complaint regarding our treatment along with a request for assistance. We sent this complaint/request for assistance to Palm Beach County Senior Officials including Doug Wise (Building Official), Steve Cramer (Senior Code Enforcement Officer) Copy of the email as well as all the pictures we sent with it is HERE
At this time, I was doing lots of research on my house and the other houses on the estate. Code's argument was that if it was not on the diagram then it must be illegal (same argument they used at the hearing and which I can totally refute as you will see later). I found many other sheds' patios etc in my street and the neighboring street. All of the ones I found were showing as same date as the original build on the property appraiser website. None of them were on the main diagram but all were on the 'Extra Feature' section of the website. I emailed a number of complaints to code enforcement about these structures. I was hoping to jolt them into realizing that there was no possible way they could all be illegal (I even told them that in my complaints, that I did not believe them to be illegal) Every building I emailed them had been measured by the property appraiser same year as the build, of course he could not have made all the same mistakes, so it naturally followed they were all originally built and approved at the time. Rather then admit their mistake at this point, they instead doubled down and proceeded to violate many of the innocent homeowners that I had bought to their attention. In my opinion, this was outrageous, these people had done nothing wrong and were now being used by code as pawns in their game of retaliation to myself. I could not work out why there were no permits on file for many of these buildings. The records department told me there were very different procedures in place back then, also that when the records were transferred to microfiche they often just copied the main house plans/permits and nothing else. I could not even find my own original electrical permit so made a complaint about that and code managed to locate it sent me a copy of it. I'm not sure how they got it as I went thought all the records in the archives. Perhaps they have more that they did not copy, if so that's unfair as everything should be copied, we should all have access to the same records.
Around this time I also made some public record requests to Palm Beach County Records Department. Some of these were related to the shed case, some related to the house plans and some related to plans for other houses I had found in the same street and neighboring two streets that had either utility buildings or patios that were not on the PAPA diagram but were listed on the Extra feature section of the website. I did not think for one second that any of the structures were illegal, it was (and should be here) clear to all that all were likely legal. I was just doing this to show Mr Kosals flawed argument that if it was not shown on the diagram then it must not have a permit. I have also found many many others of these exact same scenarios. My investigation shows me that in around half the cases they extra shed or structure was not shown on the diagram. I will add the PDF's of the many others when refuting the testimony of Ms Fox and Mr Santos Alborna during the hearing section below.
The building Official Mr Doug Wise responded to our complaint in the email below. He stated he was sorry for the aggravation we had suffered and would look into it.
Copy of the email is HERE
It was a little sad to see him making the following analogy in his response . "I also have to say that pointing out violations on other properties doesnít really help much. I tried pointing out all the other speeding cars with a Police Officer who stopped me for speeding once, but it didnít work then eitherÖ"
This response intimates that I had done something wrong. I was not pointing out other offenders as an excuse to get off with something. I was actually pointing out other properties saying I did not think they were illegal, just as mine was not. It was more a case of NONE of us had committed any offenses. Not the all of us as Mr Wise was intimating. One thing is clear from all this, I personally have not committed nay offences, not broken any rules and am not longer accused of anything or convicted of anything. Much as they tried to smear and attack me, it was just the 12 innocent people that ending up getting hammered instead of myself.
My wife sent Mr Wise the following response basically making it clear these cases were never normally pursued and trying to plead our case
Copy of email is HERE
She also followed up with this email informing Mr Wise that Mr Kosal had said we were in no way responsible for the violations and we entered into a sales contract based on that assurance. Code should not have given such assurances if they were going to come after us so hard for now reason.
Copy of email is HERE
Mr wise responded that he had copied Mr Kosals supervisors, including R Santos Alborna, one of the 4 head honchos who would join with Mr Wise, Ms Fox and Mr Bulkeley in trying to hit me with the 7 bogus violations later on.
Copy of email is HERE
Director of Code Enforcement Mr Santos Alborna sent us an email copied below). This email was copied to among others Richard Torrence (Code Enforcement Supervisor), Doug Wise (building official), Ramsey Bulkeley (Deputy Director Palm Beach County) Ozmar Kosal,, Shannon Fox Assistant County Attorney Palm Beach County. It begs the question, why copy so many of the highest officials in the county into a dispute over a forty year old shed? Do these people not have more pressing matters to attend to? I think they had already decided there was no way they could back down and admit making a mistake. IMO they were already circling the wagons and preparing to ratchet up the pressure.
Copy of the email is HERE
We responded to Mr Santos Alborna asking him to answer a couple of questions and informing him he would responsible for our costs here as they were causing us these problems. We also agreed to obtain the required permit once he respond, although he failed to do so. Its now clear to me why many people in the special magistrate had the same complaints. Either "I have emailed code and not received a response" or "I have left voicemails and not got a response." If their own director cannot be bothered to respond to an email, of course this bad practice is likely to filter down through the ranks. Even more so when the sum total of Officer Kosals training was four weeks shadowing a supervisor. Easy to pick up bad habits if everyone acts in the same way. Mr Santos Alborna is responsible for his entire department. If his officers don't respond to emails or voicemails, the buck stops with him and he is responsible for that unacceptable behavior.
I (Terry Ferrari) started a business many years ago and built it into the UK's largest online media distribution company. I had 140,000 customers so I know a little about business and customer service. I used to receive over a hundred, sometimes a few hundred business related emails each day (these were to me personally in addition to out huge online tickets support system and knowledgebase). I answered every single email I received (except spam and junk of course) no matter if it took me into the small hours which it often did. I also made certain that my almost 50 staff answered any emails they received usually the same day. I'm sure Code enforcement are capable of responding to emails if they choose to, it appears to me they choose not to in order to that the respondent at the hearing has less time to prepare and is less informed about the case against them. Every email sent and received in palm beach county is public record, so its easy to check that these people are telling the truth. I have no doubt of their story as I personally experienced the same lack of written responses from Officer Kosal and Mr Santos Alborna. That's the problem when you have no oversight and the person at the top not bothering to install good practice. It leaves all those poor residents arriving at the hearing not knowing what is going on. They usually all leave with the violation recorded against them despite trying to plead their case. These pleas, as I found, usually fall on deaf ears and the violation is seemingly rubber stamped by the magistrate in every case I witnessed.
Copy of our email to RSA isHERE
On April 27th we received an email from Deputy Director of Palm Beach County Ramsey Bulkeley (one of the 'Big 4' and the man who met us after the hearing and made additional threats against current homeowner to reinstate the previous 7 violations they concocted using my stolen pictures.) This email was telling us to direct all future correspondence to Assistant County Attorney Shannon Fox (coincidentally another of the 'Big 4')
The email can be viewed HERE
We then sent another responded email to the "Big 4' plus others trying to resolve it. It was explaining in depth how it was unlikely for the same mistake to be made in four properties. This has now changed to twelve properties as code eventually violated twelve. Forget lightening striking twice, code would have us believe it struck twelve times in the same three streets.
The email can be viewed HERE
We received the below response from Assistance County Attorney Shannon Fox, the final member of the 'Big 4'. The email was copied to the rest of the four plus others. This initial email seemed quite reasonable and fair
The email can be viewed HERE
We responded to Ms Fox. Pleading for help and asking that they they view this with a rational mind. We stated we did not want any special treatment, just to be treated fairly. We also made it clear we believed that there were NO violations committed by any Eastpointe residents.
The email can be viewed HERE
We followed up with the below additional email to Ms Fox explaining the haphazard record keeping we had discovered whilst trying to get to the bottom of this permit issue. (Its not really a homeowners job to have to search for all this, code should have done their research first and properly, instead of us having to find the evidence to show them who owned the land the shed was on. They could not even discover this simple information, yet they feel its OK to issue violations threatening people with daily fines of $1000, this needs to change.
The email can be viewed HERE
Code enforcement (after initially telling me I had to permit the shed to 1977 code, told my engineer that it had to be 2014 code. This was an about turn which meant we would be unable to obtain a permit as the code had changed substantially in the past 40 years. We emailed Shannon Fox (and copied in the rest of the 'big 4' plus others) to explain this and bring to her attention that we would be looking to the city for compensation at the end of this as it seemed such a clear cut issue to us, we could not understand why they were pursuing us and the other Eastpointe residents with so much vigor when to out knowledge they had NEVER gone against their own property appraiser before,
The email can be viewed HERE
We did not received any response, so sent another email on May 3rd setting our our case as we saw it after many more hours investigating. No matter how well reasoned and articulate our arguments were, Ms Fox and the others refused to take any notice, nor come up with any kind of argument disproving our assertions.
The email to Ms Fox on May 3rd can be viewed HERE
Ms Fox finally responded, as usual she ignored our arguments and simply stated she was meeting with staff of Friday to discuss in more detail. The email from Ms Fox was also sent by her to the other 3 of the 'Big 4', Ramsey Bulkeley, Doug Wise and Robert Santos Alborna. Seeing this, thinking with all four of the highest people looking at the issue, stupidly, we expected common sense to prevail at that meeting.
The email from Ms Fox on May 3rd can be viewed HERE
Friday came and went, no word from the county as promised. Then on Monday 8th May 2017, we were stunned to arrive home to find a new notice taped to our gates, describing SEVEN additional violations all for internal alterations. copy of the violation is HERE
We were livid at this point. There we were expecting (after all our countless hours research), the 'big 4' to see common sense and withdraw our bogus violation, instead they hit us with 7 more. We knew internal violations had to be preceded by a physical inspection by code enforcement either with our permission or a search warrant, so assumed they had broken into our house. Also we knew we had not committed any of the violations in the new list, it was clear to us they were retaliating for us daring to question their less than perfect judgment. We fired off an angry email to the Big 4, Shannon Fox, Ramsay Bulkeley, Doug Wise and Robert Santos Alborna. Copy of that email is HERE
We also retained an attorney at this point as it was clear the county were ratcheting up their pressure.
Ms Fox replied (to us and the rest of the 'big 4') stating that the building official (Doug Wise) had attended the meeting and stated the building would not have met requirements of the code at that time. so there were no sufficient ground to dismiss the case. She failed to address the fact that Palm Beach Property Appraiser had measured and valued the shed in 1977, which was more than enough proof the building was there when the Certificate of Occupancy was issued.
She also stated that at the meeting, they reviewed the photos of the house on my website (what did that have to do with their meeting??) and they found a number of violations. I later discovered they had pulled the 40 year old plans and compared them to copyrighted photos they took from my website without permission. She added some nonsense about it being a life safety issue. Seriously!!! If that's the case, why does she not spend all her spare time (and Doug Wise and Ramsay Bulkeley and Robert Santos Alborna for that matter if they are all so concerned about these issues) trawling websites of houses for sale, comparing against original plans on files and issuing notices of violation to prevent these 'Life Safety Issues'. ? The simple answer is they don't because they are not allowed to do that, and they all knew it, but thought they could attack us and get away with it as they would be the ones dealing with any complaints. Ms Fox also intimated that I had made the alterations stating 'The notice of violation issued yesterday should not be construed to suggest that you created the violations. The County is unaware of who created the violations or when the work was performed, although it appears to be somewhat new.". In other words, we are not saying you did it, but you did it.
Copy of the email from Ms Fox is HERE
We were so angry at this point. Its the kind of thing you hear about in a backwater town in the movies where all the officials are crooked and gang up on an outsider who dares question their actions. We certainly did not expect such treatment in modern day Palm Beach County by its highest officials.
We emailed her back telling her that it was clear they were going to ignore the rules to try and pin something on us and told her we had passed the matter to our attorney who was going to file a lawsuit against the city.
Copy of that email to Ms Fox (and the rest of the 'big 4') is HERE
Our attorneys had a number of discussions with Ms Fox over this matter and she refused to back down. We therefore requested a hearing at the special magistrate, Our intention was to wait for the outcome of the hearing and if, as expected, the violations were upheld, we would then file a lawsuit against the county and its officials to fix this matter.
Whilst waiting for the hearing date to arrive we went to the county and spent the whole day downloading many violations for construction without permit. We wanted to see if they had ever gone against the property appraiser dates before and also if they had ever issued any internal violations without an internal inspection before, just using internet sourced pictures which they had no way to verify if they were even of the correct address. We downloaded the full case notes for over a thousand violations (and have them saved if needed in any future case). We downloaded every single construction without permit violation issued by officer Kosal and every single construction without permit violation issued county wide for the previous 12 months. We were not too shocked to find that in all the violations we had downloaded, prior to our shed violation, the county and officer Kosal had NEVER gone against the word of the property appraiser. They had never issued a violation for an attached accessory structure where the property appraiser said it was they measured the structure at time of original build. We also discovered they in all our downloaded violations they county had NEVER issued internal violations using internet sourced pictures without any internal inspection. It was clear to us they that county had broken all their own guidelines and rules in targeting us. In our opinion, their actions were retaliatory and unlawful. Officer Kosals career violations for construction without permit can be seen HERE (note the highlighted violations are ourselves and the other Eastpointe innocent residents)
Assistant County Attorney Fox and the rest of these officials should really have known better than to do this. The law is clear we are all supposed to be treated equally (its called Due Process and Equal Protection). If anyone can prove they were not treated equally (as we and the other innocent residents can) then County Officials could be held responsible for this.
We emailed the Palm Beach County a copy of a complaint we intended to file with the Florida bar and the Ethics commission against Ms Fox. The County Attorney Denise Marie Nieman replied and said she had been following the case closely and fully supported the actions of Ms Fox. We really had nobody left to turn to at that point, everybody had closed ranks and they all clearly had each others backs.
Copy of the email from Denise Nieman is HERE
Around this time the person waiting to purchase the property decided to proceed with the purchase. We agreed to resolve any open code violations and the sale went ahead as planned. Shortly after the sale, the county dismissed all the violations against us, both for the shed and the bogus 7 violations they had manufactured. We had not finalized the complaint to the Florida bar and Ethics Commission against Ms Fox, so we let them lie. But in light of recent events we may resurrect them, and add the rest of the top officials to the ethics commission one, as we feel we can prove they did not treat us fairly or ethically by a long shot.
We assumed the county had seen sense at last. The whole issue had cost us a lot of time and money, but at that point, we figured it easiest just to move on and put it behind us. We had not reached out to the other 11 innocent homeowners, but are in the process of doing so now, in light of recent developments. We want them all to see just how unfairly they too have been treated by the county and their own HOA/POA who cause this entire mess and refuses us access to the records that may have shut this down. Furthermore they even made threats against us.
Fast forward a few months and we were contacted by the new owner of the Eastpointe Blvd house. Code enforcement had opened a new violation case against them for the shed. They seemingly still wanted their pound of flesh despite nobody having made any complaints on this new case (again going against their own 'complaint driven' procedures)
Even though I was not in any way liable for the new violations (the old ones had been dismissed). I felt bad for the new owner and offered to help him. I put together a decent defense for him and as per county regulations, we emailed it to the county more than 5 days before the hearing.
We attended the hearing on March 7th 2018.
The full transcript of the hearing along with our observations as well as full audio recording of the hearing can be found on THIS PAGE
We were surprised to see the county call their 'expert witness' Doug Wise. The top building official in Palm Beach County. His title is actually 'Building Official'. Hardly an impartial witness as would usually be expected in any other court using expert witness. Mr Wise was one of the 'Big 4' head honchos gathered at the meeting to investigate my complaint. One of the same four that authorized the issuance of the 7 new violations without following the county's own internal inspection procedures and guidelines.
Mr Wise testified that in his skilled opinion the shed would not have been issued a permit back in 1977. He could tell this just from the photographs. When I asked him if he agreed that it was the same make and model window as the rest of the house he switched to being unable to tell from the photographs. I invite the reader to check the photos, its seems pretty clear that identical window was used in the building of the shed.
He also stated he had reviewed the 1976 plan and his big reason for saying it would not have got a permit back this is as follows (quoted from the transcript of his sworn testimony)
"We donít issue permits for improvements on somebody elses property"
He was clearly stating here the shed outline was not on the 1976 plans so they would never have allowed the shed to be built on the HOA land. I have two arguments against that, the second is most compelling. The first is that the HOA were actually doing the development. At the time of the April 1976 plat not a single one of the houses were built, the permit to build the 13867 Eastpointe Way was not issued until May 1977 (13 months later) and the build commenced soon after and was completed and signed off in December 1977. So the developer owned everything, common areas and the building plots, it was the same owner. Its hardly one person building something on someone else land. The house was not sold to a new buyer until late 1977. A time of the build it was all owned by the same people, so they would not be technically building it on somebody else's property.
The second reason is proves his statement to be untrue, either it was a lie or misleading, either way it was not true. We had the 1976 plat examined and compared with the actual position of the house which you can see on the PAPA website . We were surprised t o discover that the house was not actually built within the border of the 1976 plat as Mr Doug Wise had led us to believe. It was built to the left OVERLAPPING around 30 feet onto the HOA land. Doug Wise misled the court when he said they would not allow improvements to be build on somebody else's property (ie the shed being perhaps five feet on the HOA land). When the simple fact is the actual HOUSE was built about 30 feet on HOA property. I don't know if there are other surveys to rectify this. That's Mr Wises job to locate them, but he (and Ms Fox and Mr Kosal and Mr Santos Alborna) all relied on the 1976 plat when testifying in court. They all misled the judge when they said the shed could not have been built on HOA land as shown on the 1976 plat. When its now clear and irrefutable that a third of the house itself was build on then HOA land. I have demonstrated this below in the three side by side images. The 1st is the 1976 plat rotated so north is pointing upwards. The 2nd is the papa website (at this URL http://maps.co.palm-beach.fl.us/cwgis/papa.html?qvalue=00424127010010190# ) The final image shows the 1976 plat overlayed onto the current satellite image of the street along with the PAPA outlines of the property as reflected in their records. I'm sure you will agree the house is in the wrong place, it should be in the same spot as the house 3 below it, but it has been moved and built in a totally different place than indicated on the 1976 plat. This is a fact and shows that Doug Wise's testimony was at best misleading, at worst an outright lie.
If that is not convincing enough, We can take it a stage further. Remember the thrust of Mr Wises evidence above "We donít issue permits for improvements on somebody elses property"
Its an impressive statement and goes along way to making the counties case as to why they would never allowed the shed. Even though they are ignoring the fact that the shed was measured by their own official during the build. They are instead essentially saying "we would never have allowed it so it must be illegal". If the above picture does not 100% disprove that statement then please check the picture below. Once again we examined the PAPA website showing the homeowner property lines (highlighted in green).
We checked the 6 adjacent houses to the one in question and found that FIVE of them appeared to have improvements on somebody else's property. The x1 actually has a chunk of the house built on HOA land and the other 4 all have carports attributed to the house as an extra feature actually built on HOA land. So 5 out of these 6 houses had improvements built on somebody else property, that's a staggering 83% of them yet Mr Wise told the court under oath they simply don't issue permits for them. Is this entire street illegal? I highly doubt it. If so then going by these numbers there must be tens if not hundreds of thousands of illegal buildings in the county.
Ms Fox asked Mr Wise how long it would take to put up this shed had it been done after the event. Mr Wise said it could be done in as little as a weekend if you had enough people on it. They all neglected to mention the AC system which was shown on the plans as located where the shed now sits. The same system they once accused me of moving and the same system that its new location was shown on the 2nd section of land donated to the owner back in 1980. So Mr Wise would have us believe that they owner would go to the considerable expense of illegally moving the AC system and constructing a shed all over the weekend to avoid detection and save the $20 permit fees (or whatever the cost was then, its now $75). Don't forget, these are high society members of the county club set who spend their time socializing and golfing (as well as supposedly trying to get one over on city officials).
With that in mind, I invite you to consider the following scenario.
(Homeowner) "OK Vinny, is everything in place for the undercover operation."
"Yes Boss. We have all the materials here, matching window, original siding, roof etc we are ready to start first thing. I have Paulie and Johnnie both coming early as we need lots of manpower for this"
Saturday morning arrives.
"Lets do this!!'
They go to build the illegal shed and realize they cannot do this as the AC system is sitting there. Its like an episode from Laurel and Hardy
(Vinny) "Darn it boss we are screwed. Can we just build the shed on the other side of the house where there is no AC."
(Homeowner) "NO I want it here it must be here. You get building a concrete slab on the other side of the house, I'll find an AC tech to do this illegal work."
They call an AC tech who has to move the external compressor from one side of the house to the other, he also has to move all the Freon pipes etc and reroute them to the handler in the attic. The also call an electrician who has to illegally route all the electrical cables for the external unit. Estimated cost to do this today $800 to $1000 (or if location changed during construction, estimate cost is zero as AC construction had not started )
Once the AC and electricity are illegally moved they work feverishly over the weekend ( according to Doug Wise's scenario) and construct this illegal shed. The siding is removed from behind the shed which would not normally happen but these guys are thorough albeit illegal.
Come Sunday night they have achieved their mission, Illegal shed built AC system moved illegally.
Fast forward a year or so later Owner has a realization. "Hey Vinny you realize I don't own the land that the shed and AC sits on. We could be in big trouble, we may swing for this."
(Vinny) "Don't worry boss, I have a friend in the HOA, I'll get them to donate us both patches of land for free and file paperwork with the city to make it all legal"
"Thanks Vinny, you saved us there, we could have been in a real jam"
Does any reader think the above is remotely plausible? (as Mr Wise would have us believe). If so multiply this my 12 for all the other homeowners in this and the other two streets. All these high rolling, golf playing respected member of society, all secretly putting up sheds and patios under the radar of the HOA and the county. They must have had someone on the payroll on the property appraiser office to fix his records too as in every single case his records show the building being built with the house. What a corrupt time that must have been in the county.
Also in every case the owner has been paying tax on the shed/patio since year of construction. In this case the owner was paying tax on the shed valued at $660 since 1977. The certificate of occupancy was issued at the end of the build in 1977, shed was noted and dated from that time, but Mr Wise would have us believe it was a big mistake and the shed was actually built illegally during the next 2 years (before the HOA donated the tiny plots of land) over a weekend. He was actually testifying under oath when he made this outrageous claim. Of course that must be the counties position on the other 11 properties they violated as well. All were shown as original on the property appraiser website and all were paying tax on their shed/patio from year of build. But again its all a big mistake and, in the eyes of the Assistant County Attorney (Shannon Fox), Building Official (Doug Wise), Deputy Director Planning and Zoning (Ramsey Bulkeley) and Code Enforcement Director (Robert Santos Alborna). I would assume these are all highly educated people who have risen to the tops of their profession. As well as Officer Kosal, they would have us all believe that it was all a big mistake in each and every one of the twelve cases and each building was built illegally sometime later. Forget what the property appraiser says, forget what the tax collector says, if they cannot find a permit 40 years later it simply MUST be illegal and all these other official government departments must be wrong and all the homeowners at the time were committing illegal acts trying to deceive the building department. All the officials above were fully aware of this exact situation throughout. They had all been copied in on my emails supplying them ample evidence showing the properties were built with the house but all chose to ignore it and stick with their unbelievable implausible scenario instead. I assume it was because they knew they all had each other backs and they had their ace up their sleeve which Shannon Fox would play at the hearing saying one government department cannot imputed to another. Evidence that prove the homeowner innocent was ignored. Forget right and wrong, forget ethics, just win at any cost even if that involves punishing innocent homeowners. This is your tax dollars at work folks. These are the people tasked with serving your best interests and ensuring justice is served and codes are adhered to.
Is there a single reader out there that believes the counties version of events is even at all believable. What do you think?? What makes the most sense to you?? Imagine it was your grandmother or grandfather receiving one of these violations for a house they bought 30 years ago. How on earth would they ever be able to prove their innocence? Imagine they were in poor health (as the evidence at least one of these innocent homeowners were). Imagine they had little money and were hit with this violation coupled with threats of $1000 per day daily fines. Remember the enforcement process is discretionary unless the violator is a repeat offender which we can assume none of these were. Forget discretionary, forget that all available evidence showed the building was legal, code decided to go after each and every one rather than back down.
There is not a single other code department that I can find that routinely prosecutes historical violations such as this. I even found some that had written guidelines not to prosecute them more than a couple of years old. Of course that makes much more sense, unless we have a visibly dangerous structure that demands action
If you have evidence that clears you, they will fight to get it
Ms Fox used the prior case of Monroe County vs Carter stating it was 'on point' and explained why they were not to give weight to the crucial property appraiser evidence. I have investigated that case and found it to not be on point, its a completely different case with different circumstances. That ruling can be seen HERE. I will explain the differences in the cases and why the ruling was irrelevant to this case. In that case the house was build in 1976. In 1983 the property appraiser noted an extra structure, measured it and started charging tax on it. This was an illegal annex, it was living area and had actually been rented out. So it had been built 8 years after the house (not along with the house as with our shed), it was living area which required much stricter permitting (ours was a shed) and the owner was trying to find a loophole saying code should have known about it in 1983, it should have been 'imputed' to them as another government agency. Because code took no action then, they should nto take action now. I agree that the argument n that case it wrong and the living area is likely illegal.
In our case the property appraiser did not notice it 8 years after the build. He measured and recorded it DURING the build. Thats a huge difference. Also, we are not saying it should have been imputed to code way back then. We don't care if code had no idea of the property appraiser record at that point or even right until 2016. HOWEVER in 2016, when code enforcement started their enquiry, they of course found this information at that point, they had no history ever of going against the property appraisers word so at that point ('imputed' or not) they were aware of the 1977 shed as per property appraiser and should have acted according to that knowledge. Officer Kosal told me on our first call I should have checked the property appraiser, I told him I did and the shed was there. Since then they tried to hang their hat on 'If its not on the main diagram, it must be illegal', I have disproved this theory clearly and convincingly throughout this website. Myself and code had numerous communications during 2016-2017 about this shed. It was not until October 2017 when they opened the new violation against the homeowner. At that point, forget 'imputing' its clear to see from the paper trail provided here, that code and everybody else knew at that date in October that he property appraiser measured the shed in 1977. So for Ms Fox to try to have this evidence disallowed using an irrelevant case concerning an illegal addition built 8 years after the build is just plain wrong. It once again shows the lengths the county will go to in an attempt to force through a conviction when none should have been made. Code routinely make use of property appraiser evidence in a large majority of these cases, so its fair to say they rely on the PAPA evidence when it suits them. They rely on the PAPA evidence in all those other cases EXCEPT for this one and the other 12 innocent homeowners, where they ignore it. In this case they not only ignore it but they go a step further, because they realize that it buries their case and proves the owner innocent, they trawl through old case law to try to find an escape, then use the Monroe vs Carter argument to make the magistrate ignore the property appraiser date of measurement. No real court would have ignored such convincing evidence. County knew they had lost, so pulled this trick to tilt the scales back in their favor again. Additionally, all residents at this hearing seem to be treated like criminals. Please listen to the audio if you don't believe me, I'm sure you will agree, the officials patronize the residents, talk down to them, shut them down every time the resident makes a valid point and generally treat them with no respect. This is very different to other code hearings held across the state.
Had they sent me this nonsense evidence before the hearing, of course I would have discovered the above, but in stead Ms Fox just springs it on us and the magistrate who seemingly believes every word Ms Fox says and nobody has any time to refute the irrelevant argument.
Other comments on the days hearing
At the 36.00 minute mark on the audio of the entire hearing (HERE) Darren Glickman a homeowner was in dispute with a neighbor over their shared roof. after being handed a huge pile of evidence, states. ďFor the record itís the first time I am seeing any of thisĒ. Mr Santos Alborna offers him 10 minutes to review it. Hardly fair in my opinion. They should allow continuances in all cases when they spring evidence on residents at the last minute, not give them a few minutes to review it and no time to research it or build a defense to it.
At the 2 hour 25 minute mark on the hearing audio. It it back with Mr Glickman. Code actually stuck an unsafe structure notice on his house denying him entry to his own house backed with threat of arrest, not after determining it was unsafe by his own expertise, but taking the word of the neighbors roofer and painter. He admitted he could not inspect it so he used the notice to try and force the homeowner to allow him to inspect it. Once again breaking their own rules and guidelines. The inspector was not certain the structure was unsafe (the homeowner testifies that his roof was no even leaking) yet issued him 'unsafe structure' notice as a tool to try and gain access to inspect. That's backwards, they are supposed to inspect first, be sure the structure unsafe, then issue the notice. Not take the word of a feuding neighbors contractors. The officials here treat the homeowner like a lower class citizen and seem to get angry that he states he has not seen it before (this is the guy they gave a huge packet of evidence to before my case and then expected him to have studied it all and prepared a defense in around an hour or so) . They should have sent him the evidence before the hearing which never never seem to do (they did not with us) despite insisting all people charged send in theirs 5 days before. The way Ms Fox and Mr Santos Alborna speaks to people is totally unacceptable, they are obviously not used to having their word questioned or anyone dare to disagree with them. People should listen to this audio file and pull audio files from other hearings and I bet they will all be in a similar vein. Ms Fox is not acting in a way that is fair or respectful to the residents and these hearings can in no way be considered fair. The whole deck is completely stacked against the residents and it should not be this way. I have attended other code enforcement hearings in South Florida and in Palm Beach Gardens, they treat the residents fairly and I never heard the same string of complaints that you can here from the residents here ("its the first time I am seeing this:, "Code does not respond to my phone calls", "code does not respond to my voicemails"). The other code departments seem there to genuinely work with the residents, here they seem there to nail you first, then deal with the issues later.
With the Darren Glickman case they actually allowed the neighbor and her husband to testify, admit piles of evidence about her leaky roof. The when the homeowner asked if he could go and get proof it the leak was coming from their own roof, they said no, they had to proceed immediately. The judge stated that the neighbors were nothing to do with it and the issue was the defendants roof. He correctly asked 'why are they here then?'. If they were nothing to do with it, why did Ms Fox allow them both to testify and submit piles of letters and photographs? Simply because she twists the rules to suit herself but as soon as anyone from the opposition tries to admit anything, she objects almost every time. Its so one sided, it borders on the farcical. Mr Glickman is close to tears at one point he is finding the whole situation so one sided and frustrating. I know exactly how he feels, nobody seems to listen or care no matter how hard you try to convince them, The special magistrate actually asks Mr Glickman if he is willing to allow the code inspector into his house to inspect it. (any inspection should have been done BEFORE issuing any unsafe structure notice). That's not her position to ask such a question and Mr Glickman rightfully said he would need to seek legal advice on that question, It won't change until someone orders change, because at this point nobody that oversees them is bothered to intervene or regulate their behavior.
Any college kids out there looking for a project, thinking to going into the
law profession. It may be a good idea to look into the actions and working
of this code enforcement process and special magistrate hearings. It could be a
good case study on hoe NOT to operate enforcement or hearings. Just on this one
day alone, you can find so many things wrong with the process. Ms Fox and Mr
Santos Alborna seem to be able to do just about anything they like, admit what
evidence they like, all with impunity. Yes as soon as anyone tries to put their
side of the story across, they leap up shouting objection, hearsay and find any
other reason to disallow the residents evidence. They call it a quasi judicial
process, but really its judicial when they want it to be and not when they want
it not to be. This is so different to other code hearings across the county.
Don't take my word for it, grab some audio files from those hearings and some
from this court and listen for yourselves. You will be shocked.
That's the reason I have published the information here. I'm not bothered anymore about their attacks on me. It cost me few thousand dollars, a few hundred hours and a few sleepless nights. I can live with that. BUT I am bothered that they are free to target innocent citizens such as the buyer of my house and the other 11 residents seemingly with impunity. That's not fair and there really should be a way to prevent this or a better remedy in place for when a homeowner feels unfairly targeted.
Someone should really investigate this and ensure the violations are removed and the innocent homeowners receive an apology.
In palm beach county, you have to supply the code department with any evidence that you wish to present a MINIMUM of 5 days before your hearing. Yet code don't seem bothered or interested in doing the same. I watched a few cases before mine (again these are public record). Other residents voiced concerns such as "I've been asking for months for details of the violation, they keep ignoring me'. Or I sent x emails and made x phone calls regarding this, none were returned. Again this seems highly unfair and tilted towards the county. They are free to issue violations at will, coupled with the onerous threat of $1000 per day fines, yet don't feel the need, duty or responsibility to respond to concerned homeowners and supply copies of their evidence when requested, nor, in many cases bother to respond. I experienced this first hand by my numerous emails that went unanswered at the outset of this case. All county emails are public record, so if they answered them, there will be a record. If you feel you too have been wronged by the county, make a public record request for all emails etc and you can then prove it. No point in making a complaint though, as the very people charged with investigating the complaint are likely to come after you as they did in my case. You can always resort to naming and shaming them, or reporting them to your congressman. If enough people take a stand, there will inevitably be changes.
So residents have to email their evidence 5 days before the hearing but county can just do what they please. Imaging this in a criminal court case. Defense have to send us all their evidence at least 5 days before the trail, but prosecution can save their until the last minute. Hands up everyone that thinks this is unfair?
I provided clear and concise evidence of the homeowners innocence. Not just this homeowner but the 11 others that were also violated. As mentioned to the county previously, it was perhaps feasible for the property appraiser to make a mistake in a rare one off case and get date of build wrong. But it was, I submit beyond any rational persons imagination to say that he has made the same mistake in all 12 of these cases, all in 3 streets of each other, all within a few months. If was of course ludicrous to suggest he had which is why the county attorney instead changed tack and launched an objection in court switching to the 'One government departments information cannot be imputer to another'. As well as the property appraiser date, I had provided them the documents you can see on the evidence pages showing that in may of these cases, either during or shortly after the build process, the HOA had donated the land in question to the homeowners and recorded this in official records. This to me was conclusive proof that nobody had committed any offence. I informed the code department that for their version of events to be true, all these buildings (in this prestigious county club) would have to be built minus these structures and then all these residents would have to surreptitiously and illegally construction their illegal structure (shed/patio etc) under the nose of the HOA (perhaps stealthily under cover of darkness). (Doug said over the weekend) Then when their great ruse was discovered, the HOA instead of (what would surely happen) them ordering the resident to tear down their site of the illegal structure, they instead donate the land that the structure sits on to the homeowner who made the illegal build. What absolute nonsense to suggest that could or would ever happen. I don't think that would happen on any estate in Florida let along on such a prestigious country club.
I would have hoped the HOA would have detailed records from the time the houses were built as their earlier incarnation was actually overseeing the development. I would have hoped they would possibly have had pictures of the houses as the build was complete or even earlier aerial surveys taken after each plat was completed. These would conclusively prove the structures were in place all along and of course open the county up to a lawsuit for making all these false allegations. My attempts to prove this were thwarted by the HOA/POA refusal to provide me access to the historical records which as a then homeowner they were bound by Florida law to do and their refusal (from December 2016 to this day) opened them up to potential daily fines.
Regardless of the HOA position, you would think that when I sent the county all my evidence some 9 days before the hearing, even if all the officials claimed ignorance up to that point and proverbially shrugged their shoulders, saying there was nothing they could do etc, you would think that when faced with such conclusive proof (which really was their job to find not mine as an innocent former homeowner trying to prevent a miscarriage of justice), that perhaps their moral duty to the county would kick in and they would at use some common sense. You hear many stories of people abut to be convicted, proof of their innocence being seen by prosecution at the eleventh hour and the prosecution doing the right thing and withdrawing the charges to prevent a miscarriage of justice. Not in this case, they all saw the evidence and decided to continue anyway. They simply changed their prosecution tactic away from suggesting that I had perhaps constructed the shed. They changed to it must have been constructed illegally after the build (but before the land was donated to the homeowner by the HOA in 1980) as the esteemed Doug Wise testified in his capacity as an 'expert witness' to say in his opinion a permit would never have been issued for such a structure. Furthermore he said that they would never have allowed the building to build on land not owned by the home. My evidence in the case of my and the other 11 cases, proves without a doubt that they did just that. In at least one of the cases, the HOA donated the land to the builder DURING the build as he was adding the extra structure. In the other I pointed out the land was donated within a couple of years. The county completely ignored all the other cases, even though they entered all the details I had submitted into evidence, they simply rolled their eyes as if you say 'we don't need this crap, why are you wasting our time'.
I don't know much about procedures back then or now for that matter. But I have leaned some during all my hours of research. I have been told that often during the build of these cookie cutter houses, the buyer is offered upgrades, this can sometimes be internal, better tile, different bathroom etc, and sometimes extra, a shed or patio etc. Of course if this happened during the build, the upgrade would not be on the original plan. A search of the building code in force at the time says the current building inspector has the full authority to permit these upgrades and additions during the build. The requirements for each are at the discretion of the building inspector. Just because they are not on the main plans, that does not mean they were not allowed at the time, inspected at the end of the build and signed off as legal. Taken as a whole, the whole 12 cases, it is clear that simply must have happened, rather than the version the county would have us believe, all houses built without the structures, property appraiser making 12 mistakes on the year of build, all the homeowners in this lovely country club putting up these illegal structures as soon as they bought their house (in my case using the same siding, same windows same everything) then the HOA donating the land free of charge to the offenders. They said at the start of the hearing the burden of proof is on the county to show the violation was committed, if not it would be dismissed. You can see tall the evidence for yourself, do you think the county met their burden of proof? Ignoring all the evidence that proved innocence, just reverting to 'we cannot find a permit and Doug Wise says it would have been illegal in 1977 so it must be true. Forget the facts, don't use the PAPA info, you must not look at that. Imaging a murder suspect in court. His defense has clear CCTV showing him at a shopping center at the time of the murder. This exonerates him, but the prosecution instead of following their ethical duty, they fight tooth and nail to have the CCTV excluded because of a technicality, it was not downloaded using the correct software or some such nonsense..
A public records request asking who decided that the 7 internal violations had been committed was given this response.
Decision makers to issue the 7 NOVs include Code Enforcement Director, Building Official, PZB Deputy Director and Assistant County Attorney.
These are 4 of the highest officials in Palm Beach County. I will add the names to the titles. Code Enforcement Director is Robert Santos Alborna (who was very vocal during the violation hearing on 7th March), Building Official is Doug Wise (why testified as an expert witness at the code hearing stating that by looking at the photographs of the shed, it was his professional opinion that it would not have been issued a permit in 1977, PZB Deputy Director is Ramsey Bulkeley Esquire. He introduced himself to me outside and made threats to the current homeowner that they may re-issue the internal violations as the pictures were shown in court. I pointed out to Mr Bulkeley that I owned the copyright to the pictures and would nto allow them to be used by the county. Assistant County Attorney Shannon Fox. She was the one who aggressively prosecuted this violation and used the technical loophole that the property appraiser information could not be used to impugn the code department. If that's the case then it seems to me that anyone can be found guilty of anything even if another government department has information that can prove them innocent. It seems beyond belief to me. What happens to justice, fair play and above all ethics?
side note: I asked Mr Bulkeley why they count not just settle for the current permit and all go our separate ways instead of him threatening the homeowner with the additional internal violations. He stated that it was not his decision and it was down to Doug Wise (who was standing next to us). He said something to the effect of Mr Wise could not sleep at night if he knew there were potential violations left unaddressed. Seriously!!! but he can sleep just fine in the full knowledge that innocent homeowners were being targeted. OK lets assume he was being truthful here and Mr Wise could not sleep having seen these pictures from my website and compared them to 40 year old plans, not bothering to get an internal inspection as he own department guidelines called for. OK if that's the case, how about we all email Mr Wise pictures of any house we see for sale in Palm Beach County. If he has such trouble sleeping, he can set his team up to do just as his did in my case, they can ignore their own guidelines, using the internet obtained pictures, go back through the sometimes decades old house plans, find anything that does not match, a recessed light, different electrical outlet, then he can order the current owner be violated. I'm sure that almost any house compared to decades old plans would have changed and just because they cannot find a copy of any record of changes, does not mean it was illegal. The records department told me that when records are transferred to microfiche, they typically keep just the main house plans, sometimes they keep more plans, in other cases they keep nothing. They says record keeping was haphazard. Again this is why I submit, historical allegations such as this are never normally pursued, certainly not by other counties code departments. County should issue violations against any picture they find that does not perfectly match original plans. That would be uniform and consistent application of the code enforcement based on what they did to myself and was threatening against the current homeowner. Even though it would be strictly against Palm Beach County own guidelines. The guidelines Doug Wise himself is supposed to issue, revise and ensure are fully enforced to the letter (unless it suits him differently as it did in this case, when he decided they did not apply). If these supposed internal violations are all that prevent Mr Wise from sleeping, then this county must be in such orderly compliance in every other area. If its just a potential light receptacle or electrical outlet having been moved in the past 40 years keeping him awake then the whole county must be in tip top shape.
So the four people tasked with investigating my complaint all agreed together to issue the 7 new violations despite their guidelines calling for them to seek permission and physically inspect the property and taking their own photograph of any violations before issuing any notice of violation. There really should be an ombudsman or independent body tasked with investigating complaints against county officials. They could evaluate the case impartially and come to a unbiased decision. When you have the same people investigating the complaint that are responsible for the conduct of the people being complained about, at best you will likely not get a fair investigation, at worst, you may (as in my case) have the complaint investigators' turn on you and attempt to exact some kind of revenge. Police cannot police themselves, neither can county officials.
When I asked (in a public record request) how many previous code enforcement complaints have resulted in additional notices of violation being issued by the code enforcement department. I received this response.
The violations issued to Ms. Ferrari were not in retaliation of anything, but rather as a result of additional research conducted during the process to respond to this PRR.
OK so lets just clarify here. I make a public records request asking county to supply me records held on their systems. Whilst researching this PRR and collating the data I requested, They tripped over my company website and downloaded the copyrighted pictures contained therein ignoring this warning on each page "All images used on this website are Copyright © 2017 by Housevilla. No reproduction or use without permission is allowed." they then went back through the 40 year old plans and compared my website pictures against their records (still researching my public record request) and decided I had committed code violations based on differences in the pictures and the plan's What this tells me is if you are thinking of making a complaint against the county DON'T!. They will come after you, break their own rules and guidelines and go all out to get you. If they are prepared to go to such lengths to attack anyone that dares to make a complaint, they can make up violations against any citizen. The guidelines are in place to prevent this. The inspection and violation procedure for Palm Beach County can be seen HERE
1) Obtain permission (respect citizens right to privacy), not done in this case.
2) Perform inspection (not done in this case)
3) Photograph violations (not done in this case)
4) Issue notice of violation (they jumped straight to this point using their illegally obtained pictures.
It seems to me they operate with impunity. What are you going to do, make a complaint? How does that work? These are the people who investigate that. At best it will probably get ignored, at worst you will receive a fresh batch of violations in direct retaliation.
It is shocking to me that the very people tasked with investigating my complaint would all conspire to manufacture these new violations. They all should have known they had no right to use my copyrighted pictures. They all should have known they were in direct breach of Palm Beach County Inspection and Right of Entry guidelines. Its shocking to me that not a single person amongst them said something like "STOP!! Hang on a second, what are you doing. That's not allowed. We are hear to discuss a citizen who feels they have been wronged by the County that we all represent. This is not the time or place to seek revenge. Lets resolve this complaint and if the citizen has committed any other infractions, let them be processed in the normal course of events in accordance with the normal rules, regulations and procedures in place."
The fact that none of these officials objected to the flouting of the guidelines and regulations and instead seemingly encouraged it and were supposedly part of the decision making (according to Ms Perez PRR response). That indicates to me that they are all unsuited to their current positions and all equally responsible for the illegal use of my pictures and the unlawful issuance of the 7 notices of violations without any direct evidence or any internal inspection. Again I re-iterate, I cannot find a single case in the thousands I have checked of the county officials taking such steps prior to this case. That's is not treating all citizens equally, its not justice being blind. Its not 'uniformly and consistently enforcing county code' (from their website mission statement). In my opinion its officials in breach of their duties and abusing their positions to aggressively retaliate against a resident who made a genuine complaint about actions of a member of staff in the employ of the county.
I feel that complainants should be treated with respect and with sensitivity, they should not be attacked by those tasked with looking into the complaints. For anyone to take the trouble to file a complaint, they obviously believe they have been mistreated. As I stated at the hearing, (which was obviously ignored) there should be a better system of checks and balances in place to prevent situations such as this. I am still waiting for some kind of written response showing the outcome of my complaint that Ms Fox was in charge of investigating. I'm guessing I'll be waiting a lot longer. Most departments have set procedures for complaints that include notifying the recipient of the outcome of the complaint. I'm guessing Palm Beach County does not have such procedures, or simply choose not to abide by it in this case. If beggars belief to me that the person tasked with dealing with my complaint was the very same person sitting at the hearing objecting to evidence and fighting hard to have the homeowner convicted, despite being in possession of the facts that demonstrably proved all the 12 violators had not committed any offences. You simply should not be able to wear different hats in this situation. You should not be a supposed investigator of complaints as well as the same person trying to convict the complainant or anyone related to the complaint.
Palm Beach code enforcement mission statement (signed by their director Robert Santos Alborna, who fought so hard against me at our hearing) below
The Code Enforcement Divisionís mission is to uniformly and consistently enforce County Code, and to ensure, promote and protect the health, safety, welfare, and quality of life for residents, businesses and tourists of Palm Beach County.
In light of the above statement, I invite the Shannon Fox, Ramsey Bulkeley, Doug Wise, Robert Santos Alborna and any other present at the meeting to discuss my complaint to supply me with all of the occasions
1) That they have all gathered together and agreed to flout county guidelines, dispense with usual protocol (obtain permission, inspect property, photograph violations and issue notice of violation) break the rules and agree to download copyright pictures, dispense with the formalities of permission, inspection etc and jump straight to issuing notice of violation
I am betting this has never happened before but would like to be proved wrong and to be supplied with details if it has
2) Whilst meeting in their official capacities (building, official, county attorney, deputy director, code enforcement director). Instead of using their wisdom and problem solving skills, they have instead opted to ignore a residents bona fide complaint and instead conspire together to manufacture new violations against the complainant using internet sourced, unverified pictures and 40 year old building plans, armed with the knowledge that he had purchased the property only a few months previously. This again should go against their supposed training and skill set as well as their responsibilities as officials of the County.
3) Of all other occasions that they have issued notice of internal construction violation based solely on internet pictures and without any internal inspection. With permission from the homeowner neither sought nor obtained despite being required by law.
4) Of ANY previous occasion (prior to this case) that they have issued a violation for an attached accessory structure that was shown on the property appraiser website as being built at the same time as the main house. I know that officer Kosal had never issued such a violation, I was unable to find any similar violation issued by any country official in my search of all 2017 violations. If this is in fact true, it certainly goes against their mission statement of uniformly and consistently enforcing county code.
Again I am betting this has never happened before. If so can someone from the county please supply details. If not, am safe to assume that it was in direct retaliation for my daring to make a complaint out my perceived mistreatment. You hear of police circling the wagons and protecting their own if someone dares to make a complaint. You don't really expect it from officials in positions of authority tasked with investigating to and responding to complaints from citizens.
It really is unacceptable and unforgivable, more so the fact that they extended this unprecedented and (in my opinion) unlawful retaliation to 11 innocent homeowners living at Eastpointe. I don't expect them to admit their wrongdoings, but am content to name and shame them on here.
I was provided an internal email (via my public records request), where the DIRECT of code enforcement suggests to county attorney that this would be a perfect case for "companion violations"
Copy of that email is HERE
'Companion Violations' excuse me!!!! Please lets think about that for a second. That's akin to a policeman saying, "OK out of you two cars, one was speeding and one was not. I really don't know which one was speeding so I am going to give you both a speeding ticket and let the judge work out which one was going too fast". Or another example, a detective knowing that either Mr X or Mr Y committed a murder but that the other was completely innocent. The detective says, 'well gosh darn, I just don't know who did it. I have the perfect solution, I'll charge both with murder and let the judge work out which one is guilty and which one is innocent. Have you ever heard anything so crazy? Here's an idea instead. How about doing your job diligently, gathering the evidence. Being sure beyond a reasonable doubt that the offence has been committed by the target. Then and only then issuing a notice of violation. If you are not sure or cannot prove it, then don't make accusations or haul innocent people before a court (especially a kangaroo court that you along with your friends control and, as anyone can see by listening to the hearing, you don't always tell the truth and this usually helps you to secure a conviction). Don't issue a notice of violation coupled with a threat of $1000 daily fine unless you are reasonably certain that the recipient is responsible for the allegations contained therein. There is no other court that I can think of where it is allowed to charge two people when you know for a fact that one of them is innocent. If its not allowed in other courts, it certainly should not be allowed in this one.
In my opinion, code enforcement are overstepping their guidelines and powers by bullying innocent people into submission. People are fearful of their official notices of violation which carry the bold threats of a fine of up to $1000 per DAY. Of course they need tools at their disposal to force rule breakers to fall into line. But these threats $1000 a day fines should not be used against homeowners in the cases where someone cannot find a permit from 40 years ago. They can no more prove there was not a permit issued decades ago than the current homeowner can prove there was a permit issued. In my case they only won using a legal technicality that one government departments information cannot be imputed another. That, in my opinion is complete baloney. If the property appraiser says something was built in 1977, unless you have some kind of proof that it was not, for example picture of it being built last week, or other photographic evidence in the 1980's or 1990's of the house minus the structure in question, then of course you rely on the property appraiser website. Many other code enforcement districts are unable to issue a violation unless they witness a violation actually being committed. That seems to make far more sense. Palm Beach County seems to be at the opposite end of the spectrum. You can buy a house here and are on the hook for anything that has been done to that property in the past 40 or 50 years. If they cannot find a permit, sorry about your bad luck, You bought it last week so we can violate you. That sounds extremely unfair and really should be challenged in court so perhaps they fall into line with other districts and only prosecute violations that they witness in progress instead of referring to 40 year old plans. Officer Kosal told me during out first conversation 'You should have checked the Property Appraiser website!' I stated that I did check the website and it was clearly shown there, the outline of the shed in red and also it was separately listed at 132 sq ft. His response was 'Ah but it was not on the site plan'. I've searched and found countless 1970's sheds listed on the PAPA website and have been unable to find any on the relevant property site plan. I think this is possibly because they were not classed as living areas. Regardless, if it is shown on the property outline and itemized in the EXTRA BUILDINGS section and the date matches build date. Then of course its fair to assume it was built with the house. No disrespect to Mr. Doug Wise, I'm sure he is an excellent and highly skilled building official with many years experience. However, I do caution that he was present at the meeting where they all gathered to discuss my complaint and was complicit in the throwing the rulebook and guidelines out of the windows and manufacturing the 7 new violations using illegal photos and without so much as an inspection. Also, many experts have told me that the only way to know for sure it something meets code is to partially disassemble it and check the trusses, nail length etc. Deputy Director Ramsey Bulkeley said exactly this to the homeowner after the hearing, he asked him to send pictures in of it partially stripped and they would tell him what was needed to get a permit.
I invite any construction expert with experience in, or access to, the 1977 Florida Building Code (along with any applicable Palm Beach County amendments/exclusions), to study the photos used by code in this case and see if they can come to the same conclusion as Doug Wise, that the shed would never have been issued a permit some 40 years ago, or any different conclusion. Please bear in mind this is a storage shed, its is not part of the living area and not for any human occupation. My research showed me that many counties in Florida did not even require permits for such structures, thought I am unable to ascertain either way the exact requirements in place for Palm Beach County. Doug Wise told me after the hearing that he had a copy of the 1977 building code in his office and would assist in showing us what was required. I have emailed him asking for the relevant information that he promised to supply but at the time of publishing this, I have still not received a response.
According to the property appraiser website, Myself, the person who purchased my property and the eleven other Eastpointe residents issued violations after my complaint, are all innocent of any wrongdoing. The PAPA website clearly states all the structures are original. They were all signed off as legal and code complaint at the end of the build. This whole case is essentially (to coin a Trumpian phrase) a 'nothing-burger'. None of the residents did anything wrong, yet all were accused by code enforcement and threatened with daily fines of $1000. Some were forced to hire architects to draft plans for these 40 year old sheds or patios. They had no idea they were being used as pawns by code enforcement in their battle with myself. Its a very unfair way to treat innocent homeowners and its a complete waste of county resources that would be better spent enforcing codes that were actually being breached.
"The shed always needed a permit and the property appraisers record, it is what it is??" Hold on a second, "it is what it is?" Is that what you say when you have something you simply cannot explain in law. "It is what it is?" How about the property appraisers record is clear and concise evidence that the shed we have spent the past hour arguing over was built during 1977 BEFORE the certificate of occupancy was issued in December and is therefore legal in the eyes of the county and the law?
Let me try to present this a different way, forgive me if this sounds patronizing to Ms Fox.. Only one of the following two scenarios is correct, please can you choose A or B
A) The building department either failed to issue a permit as required or simply failed to keep track of this permit over the past 40 years
B) The property appraiser measured and recorded a shed that would be taxed immediately when the shed was not actually built yet and would be built sometime over the next two years. Perhaps he was a fortune teller and could see the shed being built in his crystal ball.
Code and county would have you believe that neither is correct, the shed was not built during construction because it would have never gotten a permit. Not only is this what they are trying to make you swallow, but they also say it happened with the eleven other properties all in the same three streets, all in this high end club. Not only did they all flout the law, but the Property Appraiser made exactly the same mistake in all twelve properties by recording them during them build even though none were going to be built until a year or so later. Because the county attorney, code director and building official cannot give us any logical explanation for the twelve grave errors by the property appraiser. They are just saying 'it is what it is'? Sorry but that's not good enough. Its far more likely that building dept did not keep copies of all the permits than property appraiser make twelve identical mistakes and all twelve affected properties all go on to build illegal structures on their land.
I hope you agree with me that this is preposterous. IMO all of these officials need either serious retraining, or moving to positions where they cannot harm the public. Their unacceptable actions reflect badly on the county. They may have gone along unchecked until now but now their actions are going to be subject to scrutiny and oversight. Change usually comes from above so hopefully people will read this amend see its pointless complaining to the county when you feel mistreated, they ignore your complaints, retaliate against the complainant and circle the wagons and cover each others back.
From the few cases I witnessed at the special magistrate, every thing seemed
tilted against the rights of homeowners and towards conviction. Homeowners had
been trying to resolve their issue. I heard the same story again and again, code
have to answered my email, code have ignored my voice mail (I had the same
Also. I heard on more than one occasion 'that's the first time I have seem this' as code presented their evidence. Again this is extremely unfair, ignoring the homeowners then blindsiding them at the hearing with evidence they have no real time to study or build a decent defense to.
Attorney Fox response was the same each time, "do you want to study it now?"
Again that's unfair and geared towards their conviction. The guy before me had a huge pile to study so they adjourned his case until after mine. Had that been a real court, they would and should have postponed the case giving the defense ample time to research the evidence and build the best defense possible. This cannot be done by studying 11th hour surprise evidence for a few minutes during their trial.
The rules are tilted in favor of code enforcement. If you wish to use evidence In your defense you have to send it to them a full five days before your hearing otherwise you cannot use it. But they can hit you with it during the hearing, does that sound unfair to you?
They should have to be bound by the same rules they should have to prove they supplied it to the homeowner a full 5 days before the hearing, otherwise same should apply to them, they should not be allowed to use it
This is supposed to be a fair court not a kangaroo court. Both sides should have equal rights. I would not mind betting that hardly any cases are won by defendant at this hearing, not because they are likely guilty, but because everything is geared to advantage of county and code, plus as my case showed officials will twist the truth and bend the rules to their advantage if it helps them gain a conviction right or wrong or fair or unfair have very little to do it with neither does homeowners right, That situation really should change
HOA ALLOWING ACCESS
If you are worried about code enforcement riding roughshod over your rights
then You can ask you HOA to protect you against want unwanted intrusive
inspections by over zealous code enforcement. Many people do not realize but
code enforcement have no powers to come onto any private property unless they
seek and obtain permission first. Just because they have the title 'officer"
they have no powers of entry (Even the police need search warrant). You can ask
your HOA to not allow them into your private community unless they have prior
homeowner permission or a administrative search warrant (which are not issued
against private homes for code enforcement inspections) to hassle its residents.
The HOA could check this legal issue and vote on it at its meeting.
If more HOA's adopted this measure , it would protect their owners from poorly trained, inadequately supervised code enforcement who don't seem to be able to follow their own policies and procedures. And who have no recourse or established independent complaints procedure for anyone who feels mistreated by them.
THE 'BIG FOUR'
Palm Beach county mission statement is below
To continually improve, in the most cost effective manner, the services to our customers; protection of the overall public good, as guided by the policies of the Board of County Commissioners; and to achieve a recognized high level of public satisfaction for costs and quality of service. We will accomplish our mission by taking a leadership role in developing and presenting sound policy alternatives to the Board of County Commissioners, focusing continually on our customers' needs and expectations, recognizing limitations in resources, exploring creative and equitable revenue alternatives, responding capably and swiftly to changing priorities, investing in the behavioral and intellectual enhancement of our work force, and providing appropriate acknowledgement and rewards for superior performance.
If you work for the county in one of their highest positions and unable to put your loyalty to the county before your loyalty to your friends, to put their county's mission statement above yours or your friends desire for retribution, Then you are in the wrong job. If you are unable to respect all Palm Beach County citizens right including their 4th amendment and their right to all be treated equally under the law, then you are in the wrong job.
If any one of the big four here had done their job properly, you would not be
reading this now.
But when such injustice is dispensed to so many innocent residents, all with the active help of top officials who know full well the residents had done nothing wrong. Then those officials should be held to account and made to explain their unfair and possible unlawful actions
If you are a county official aware of anyone facing charges. If you come into possession of evidence that's shows that person is innocent of the accusations he/she is facing. Then in my opinion it's not just your responsibility to speak up and prevent miscarriage of justice, but it's your lawful duty as officers of the county. All 4 officials were in possession of said evidence and all 4 breached their duty and chose to ignore it and help the attempt to convict the innocent residents.
It's your duty to ensure building codes are applied evenly and consistently. It's also your duty to ensure everyone is treated equally in the eyes if the law. When you breach your duty to such an extent that you treat residents in such a way that you can in no way claim its treating them evenly or consistently. Remember the big 4 meeting when all 4 decided to break their Palm Beach County guidelines and issue violations with no permission, no inspection, no evidence obtained and without being witnessed by their own officers? How can they call that even and consistent unless this malpractice is common practice. Same with the innocent 12 residents, I could not find a single other case out of over a thousand where they took action against the official record of the property appraiser who they were in effect, in all these cases, calling a liar
Such uneven and inconvenient enforcement not only makes the officials look incompetent, but it also exposes the county to potential lawsuits as any decent attorney could demonstrate such treatment was unfair.
The job is not supposed to be about you and feeding your egos. It's about your County and it's citizens
It's about everyone forcing codes consistently in accordance with the mission
statement. It's about respecting citizens rights. Particularly their 4th
amendment right to privacy and to live their lives free from unreasonable
government interference. Even Florida attorney General not only reinforces this
right, and states code have no right to inspect without permission or a search
warrant, she goes a stage further to stare that one will not normally be issued
fir residential homes. Copy of that opinion is
HERE Please take note Mr Bulkeley
before you make more unwarranted threats to innocent homeowners. You have no
right to hassle them without a warrant and they won't issue an inspection
warrant for a private home, so please leave them in peace!
If you catch someone in the act tarnishing your lovely county by all means use the tools available to you to bring them into line. If they are making a mess, go after them. If you catch them building illegally, of course chase them. But please follow in the footsteps of most other code departments statewide and even country wide. If you are not sure an offense has been committed let alone who committed it, use your discretion and judgment and leave residents in peace.
Don't violate innocent people just because the county has shabby record keeping and you cannot find a 40 or 50 year old drawing. Especially when your own property surveyor says it was built with the house and legal.
Even if he does not, you should require some other evidence in addition to missing paperwork. The guy with the 50 year old fence presented a convincing case that his fence was built with his and the other model hones by Sears Roebuck. Yet he got screwed by the county simply because they could not find a 50 year old permit.
If in the unlikely event that Mr Wises sworn testimony was correct and this
shed would never have been used a permit in 1977 then Mr wise has a problem. His
problem is that this shed Was built in 1977, this was proved when the property
appraiser measured and valued it along with the carport and patio in 1977 see
HERE. if it was not issued
a permit then that's the fault of the building inspector who signed off on the
build in December in December 1977 and issued a certificate of occupancy
affirming all codes bad been met and the building net all regulations.
If the building department was so in effective that they were approving hundreds of illegal builds (I found 12 in a few minutes searching in the same street and neighboring streets) if code department is correct and all these buildings are built without permits, then as we have proved they were all built during construction and signed off and legally compliant), not only does that mean all homeowners in these cases are innocent of any wrongdoing. its unheard of and would never stand up in court, for any homeowner to be help responsible for a mistake made by a building official during construction who failed to ensure a permit was pulled but subsequently signed off stating building had met all codes.
The moment he signs off and issues the certificate of occupancy, that building and all structures present are deemed legal. The only action that can be taken months, years or decades later is against the building official also who failed to require a permit or the record keeper who failed to record the permit or transfer it to microfiche if it has been lost.
If the 1977 building inspector is responsible, then their top management are now accountable for this. The top management now are Doug Wise, Building official, and Ramsey Bulkeley Deputy Director planning and zoning. The buck stops with them and if it is the case that the building inspector messed up in 1977,they should both accept responsibility now . Not just because the official made mistakes and they are ultimately responsible for all inspectors in those department. But also because they failed in their duty, when supplied with clear evidence of homeowners innocence, and instead conspired with Attorney Fox and Robert Santos Alborna to prosecute the 12 homeowners they all knew to be innocent.
Either way the responsibility falls on these county officials and any that overseas them. The responsibility is to get to the truth. Punish anyone that has flouted the law or broken the oaths and guidelines of their employment. All unlawful violations should be withdrawn and all innocent homeowners should be issued with apologies. If anyone in the county wants to clean house and restore its reputation, these are the first steps they should take followed by new guidelines and training to ensure innocent homeowners are treated fairly and not targeted. Most importantly any complaints are independently investigated and not by Ms Fox, the very person who job it is to nail the complainant.
The alternative is the whole world can see just how useless and in effectual these top officials have been. The public and these peoples bosses can weigh the evidence, make their own enquiries, see the officials actions and form their own opinions.
The officials here seem to not care about residents rights lay all. No other
code department in my view would attempt to prosecute violations 40 or 50 years
old where there was any doubt as to the validity if the charge. The guy before
me had clear evidence that his house had an original 50 year old fence build by
Sears Roebuck. It was one of 3 model hones with the same fence. A decent
functioning department would have either never issued a violation for such an
allegation, or someone with an objective mind would have decided to use the
discretionary rules in their guidelines and decided it was not in the public
interest to proceed. Just because they could did not find a copy of the permit.
They did not have any way prove an offence was vomited 50 years ago. The records
department told me that record keeping at the time was haphazard at best. They
told me that often only the main Permit were transferred into microfilm. They
said often only the main plans were transferred. I confirmed thus fact checking
the records of many Eastpointe houses.. Most had just the main drawings. And
some had up to 4 permits (main house, available, electric, and plumbing) some
had just 1 recorded.
Take the innocent guy with the 50 year old fence, how with can he prove such a thing was legal 50 years ago? Of course he cannot. Just because county cannot find a permit. That does not make him automatically guilty. Instead of this violation being administratively closed out as would happen in most other code departments, it was prosecuted with vigor and no regard for the residents rights or possible innocence. Robert Santos Alborna dud not care, his view was clear, they could not find a permit, the law is the law (wrong, he should have used his common sense and discretionary powers to prevent this guys case from proceeding). Shannon Fox, same view, also wrong in my opinion. The Special magistrate, just shrugged and said that all structures needed permits so she had to uphold the violation. The system failed the homeowner here because all the players are geared to just prove the violation, nothing else matters to them not their mission statements, not the residents rights, just convict everybody.
As with the Eastpointe Residents, the building department view is, not in main plans they hold on file then it must be illegal. In the face of it, a plausible argument until you consider this. If the look at the Property Appraiser and see that they measured the shed/patio in question during the build, valued it further tax purposes, and recorded the years as the build year, then its pretty darn certain it was built with the house and highly likely it was legal and permitted at the time. If someone decides to add a shed during the build section, they simply had to submit a drawing of the shed/patio to the building inspector who would authorize this addition. They never insist on a new submission of full detailed architect house plans (as they would have us believe as the shed/patio is not in the main plans) in order to approve this addition that would not affect the sq ft living area and was not for habitation.
So again look at the order before in every case. Structure was built with house, measured by government employed property appraiser during building days, valued for tax purposes this time, and the owner paid tax on it from this point.
Records department informed me that often only the main house plans are recorded onto microfilm. Sometimes more paperwork, sometimes not. I guess it makes sense, nobody expected someone to come along 40 years later and charge an innocent homeowner just because they could not find a drawing of a patio or a shed. This is probably why almost none of the other enforcement departments would ever pursue a historical violation such as this, especially one that there was doubt at to the homeowners guilt.
Let's look at the simple facts of this shed case.
If the house was built in 1977 & If the property appraiser visited and measured the shed (132 square ft) in 1977. If they assigned a taxable value to the shed of $660 in 1977 & The homeowner started laying property tax on the shed from 1977
Its pretty obvious to conclude that the shed was built in 1977. The
certificate of occupancy was issued at the end of the build in late December
1977. The property appraiser says they measure the building every 5 years. If
the shed was in place at the end of the building at time it was signed off by
the property inspector, then code enforcement are simply not allowed to issue a
violation over the permitting of the shed. Even if they cannot find the permit.
They cannot blame that homeowner or any future homeowner for anything that
happened during the original build before the inspector signed off on the build.
Any thing they discover that likely happened during the build (like all these
sheds and patios), they would have to rake action against their own building
inspector who signed off on the build, stating all requirements and building
codes had been met and issued the certificate of occupancy.
We don't need Sherlock Holmes to solve this mystery. It's not rocket science. It's not even bloody complicated. A middle school student could grasp the basic concepts in play here. Yet Palm Beach Counties finest officials seem hell bent on trying to find any other scenario instead of the simple truth.
Robert Santos Alborna stared in court they were duty bound to issue the notice of violation in all the cases, following a complaint. I beg to disagree. He had been supplied with enough evidence proving all the builds were original and legal. In that case he was duty bound NOT TO issue a violation. Even in cases where the evidence is 50 /50 or even stronger, code guidelines are that enforcement us discretion unless is a repeat offender. Discretionary means you use your common sense. Was the owner in any was involved in this construction? Clearly not. Are we 100 percent sure a construction without permit has been committed, definitely not. Then our discretion and duty and training should tell us we are not to issue a violation.
Perhaps they need to bring in some code enforcement from another county to train them in real enforcement techniques as well as respecting residents civil rights. Most counties only issue violations if they actually witness a violation in progress. If you buy a house that previously used owner swapped out the bathtub without a permit. Almost no other county in need Florida would violate you for that. But in Palm Beach County its different. Here they seem issue them like confetti, based on the flimsiest of evidence. Poor residents stand at the Special Magistrates hearing complaining that they have been asking for evidence or asking for help for weeks, and getting no response. Nobody bat's an eyelid. Nobody helps them. They give you 60 days to fix the violation & $100 a day fine after that. Nobody seems to care about right or wrong. Good customer service or terrible, no one oversaw them, they just sat there refusing to budge on every case gleefully dishing out fines until I had the cheek to get up and present my evidence for over an hour on behalf of the current owner. The officials seemed bored. They know they could not lose. Why was I wasting their time like this it was simply so I could get all my evidence admitted. Knowing they would likely ignore the evidence and rule against the homeowner. I wanted to hear their weak arguments for conviction and they really were terrible. Thus us now all public record, statements were made in oath and Shannon fox's strategy with her friends Doug Wise a Robert Santos Alborna all played out under the watchful eye of Deputy Director Ramsey Bulkeley
We have a very strong potential civil rights violation case against the county and its top officials for their actions and decisions they jointly made in proceeding with these cases. I have strong evidence to prove that my and the 12 innocent residents were unfairly treated breaking all the county guidelines and procedures in the process.
It's a clear retaliation for myself dating to question their judgment and dodgy decision making.
It really is totally unacceptable for 4 of the counties highest officials to act in this manner. For them all to meet to discuss a residents complaint and then decide to break all their rules to try and nail that resident for revenge us just plain wrong.
It's made much worse by the fact they violated 12 other residents they all knew to be completely innocent, just to save them from backing down and admitting their mistake.
All 4 officials should hang their heads in shame. They allowed they're personal pride to cloud their judgment and allowed innocent people to be charged knowing they would likely get away with as they were answerable to no one. Best if all for them, one of their own Shannon Fox, would I likely be tasked with investigating any complaint and they knew she would have their backs.
Let's see if anyone in the county has the nerve to investigate this and do the right thing. Perhaps before the local news get hold of this and exposes their actions. It's hard to see how any one of them could defend their position as they all clearly knew it was likely in each and every case that no offense had been committed.
I hope I've been able to demonstrate this to the reader. If I can do it, and I have no experience in code enforcement or property deeds, law etc then a decent code attorney or civil rights attorney would have a field day with this evidence. If you are an attorney experience with civil rights and/or code enforcement and feel you would like to take a crack at this case, please contact us. We don't want any pro-bono work, we are happy to pay, we just want someone with relevant experience willing to hold the county and the HOA to task for their actions. We are in no rush to file a lawsuit as this website has gotten the story out there, no doubt people will be asking some difficult questions as a result of this site,
No loopholes or tricks used here. No baseless claims to try to twist things such as made by Assistant County Attorney Fox stating the property appraiser evidence that proves the charges were based should be ignored due to some unrelated case law.
It was the officials job to discover this evidence, not mine. They forced me to discover it to defend their baseless charges. Because none of them could do their job properly as they were too focused on breaking their own rules to punish people they knew to be innocent instead. If you feel mistreated by anyone mentioned here, I suggest you contact your congressman or senator. If they receive enough complaints, they are very likely to take action. I shall be making some complaints myself and hope most if not all of the eleven others mentioned here will all follow suit. They are welcome to use the information on this site as part of their complaint/action. They were all violated when the county knew all along they were innocent, all to cover up an incorrectly issued violation and to save admitting any wrongdoing.
If anyone reading this and thinking it's just sour grapes from a homeowner
busted by code. Please consider the following
1) I have no violations recorded against me, they were dismissed last year when I sold the house
2) I can prove in any court that I did not build the shed or commit any of the internal violations they tried to nail me for.
3) Yes this case cost me a lot if time and money, but it's about right and wrong and abuse of position by those in power.
4) I'm doing all this on behalf of the 12 innocent homeowners that received violations because I had pissed off the county officials by standing up to their bully tactics. I feel a certain degree of responsibility for their plight and am trying to right the wrong done to them by the county.
5) how would you feel if an innocent friend or relative was attacked by code for no reason? I'm sure you would want the situation rectified
If any county officials or news organizations want to investigate this widespread problem, please contact me and I'll be happy to assist by sharing my evidence and findings.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, I hope it's helps the innocent victims and contributes to bring about change in the counties unethical practices. Feel free to contact me with any thoughts, opinions or Similar experiences.
I have tried to be 100% accurate on everything stated on this website. If you feel that something is incorrect, and wish it to be changed, or if you simply have further information to contribute, please email me at email@example.com and I will look into it. If something is proven to be incorrect, I am of course willing to change it.
I bought a house, researched it before I bought it and I relied on the property appraiser supplied information to buy the house (which is a recognized method using by investors countrywide) . Had code relied on that information as well, none of this would have happened. What did I do wrong here? I pissed them off (the county officials). And why did I piss them off? Because they falsely said the shed was build on HOA land and I had to tear it down. I refused to accept this, to roll over and be bullied like their other residents and decided to take a stand. Once proved wrong they should have closed their violation and walked away, but instead broke all their own rules and went out to attack myself and the other innocent homeowners simply for retaliation. I stood up for what was right and boy did they punish me for it. Regardless of the outcome of this, at least now everyone can see all the facts and judge for themselves. Palm Beach County is a great place to live, its a shame its being tainted by the actions of a few.