The city of Goodyear has split its 2022 citizen of the year award between two men who are hitting the streets, ‘busting’ code violations wherever they go.
Brothers-in-law Tim Kelly and Larry Olguin the Code Busters, a program through Compass Church that provides assistance to residents who find themselves in violation of a Goodyear city code.
Common city code violations include “uncontrolled vegetation” such as overgrown bushes or trees obstructing the sidewalk or blocking the view of traffic. Yards containing debris or weeds taller than six feet are also considered in violation of the Goodyear city code, which could result in legal penalties if not addressed.
Usually, a code violation can be quickly rectified. But for some, such as elderly or disabled people, it can be impossible to address a violation on their own.
Enter the Code Busters.
When Kelly and Olguin get word of a code violation, they start by meeting that person at their home, explaining what they do, and making a plan to get the yard back into compliance.
With the property owner’s permission, the Code Busters assemble their crew of volunteers to fix the violation, whether that means removing debris, trimming back trees or picking weeds.
The program is through Compass Church and had been around for some time, but was revived when Kelly and Olguin joined the church in 2018. It was then the men reestablished contact between the church and the city of Goodyear’s code compliance division.
Now, the men lead a team of just six Compass parishioners who spend their free time cleaning up trash or pulling weeds for people who cannot do it themselves.
“We’re not a lawn service,” Kelly said. “We’re looking for people that need help, that can’t afford it or can’t physically do it for themselves.”
He added that the vast majority of Goodyear residents who get a warning address the problem themselves. “But there’s a population that can’t do that,” Kelly said.
Both the men stressed that the Code Buster's program couldn't do what they do without the continual support of their church, which provides the team the tools they need to help others, and acts as a go-between for the Code Busters volunteers and the city of Goodyear, which is often how Kelly and Olguin get their leads.
“They really want to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a tangible way to help meet people's needs,” said Scott Williams, the community life pastor at Compass Church. “And I just so appreciate these two guys.”
Sometimes, it's the residents themselves who reach out to Kelly and Olguin. The men have traveled even outside city limits to provide assistance.
During an interview with the Independent, Kelly and Olguin were in the process of assisting an elderly man whose palm tree began blocking an alleyway.
Both Kelly and Olguin say that residents are always extremely grateful for the help. “You go, and you talk to them, and you can just see how relieved they are” for the help, Olguin said.
Code Busters is a relatively unique program, at least in the Valley, and that’s something Kelly and Olguin would like to see change. They now have their sites set on other Southwest Valley cities.
They've begun making connections with the city of Buckeye, and are open to expanding further, but they need more volunteers for that.
And they're hoping to see people in more churches, or companies or community groups Valleywide start their own Code Buster-style organization
"We'd be willing to share our experiences and the process with any church that feels like they'd want to start something like this throughout the valley," Olguin said.
If you are in need of assistance or would like to support the work of the Code Busters, please reach out to Compass Church in Goodyear at email@example.com or call 623-935-3060.
Madeline Ackley is a Phoenix-area native who joined Independent Newsmedia in July 2021 as a reporter for the Goodyear-Litchfield Park Independent. She is passionate about delivering hyperlocal coverage of issues that matter to her community.
She has previously covered immigration, policing, homelessness, veteran’s issues and breaking news and her byline has appeared in The Arizona Mirror, The Arizona Republic, The Phoenix Business Journal and Cronkite News.
Madeline is passionate about animal welfare and the environment. She loves to cook, travel and spend time with her family.