First Read

Tallahassee City Commission sued over empty seats on code enforcement board

The board has only three members, the suit says, making it unable to meet the quorum requirement to hold meetings.

Tallahassee City Hall (file photo)

Tallahassee City Hall (file photo) State Archives of Florida/Gaines

A Tallahassee lawyer this week filed a civil-court complaint against the City Commission for not appointing enough members to the city’s code enforcement board. 

Nicholas Warren, who happens to be an ACLU of Florida voting rights attorney but who is suing personally, alleges in his complaint that the city failed to fill its seven-person code enforcement board for two years. Warren notes that he submitted an application to join it in 2021. 

He also says that three additional members termed out at the beginning of June, leaving the board with only three members and unable to meet the quorum requirement to hold meetings. The complaint argues the delay violates state law and asks the court to compel the commission to fill the vacancy and process Warren’s two-year-old application. 

“The City Commission's failure to fully staff the Code Board frustrates the Legislature’s purposes and undermines the Board’s work,” according to the complaint for a writ of mandamus, a court order to an elected official to perform a certain action. A complaint in a lawsuit tells one side of a story; a request for comment was pending with a city spokesperson as of Wednesday afternoon. 

Updated Thursday afternoon – The judge on the case, Circuit Judge J. Lee Marsh, issued an order to show cause, telling the city it has 60 days to explain "why the relief requested ... should not be granted." Court dockets show the city has not yet acknowledged the suit. 

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