Monday, May 24, 2010

City Ramps Up Enforcement for Mowing Season

The Office of City Prosecutor and the Department of Code Enforcement (DCE) are adopting a no-nonsense approach for the high weeds and grass season. Multiple property owners who have historically refused to mow their properties as required by City ordinances will now receive a letter detailing legal action that will be taken against them.

“Fighting blight in our neighborhoods is key to our commitment to making public safety job one and increasing quality of life for our citizens,” said Mayor Greg Ballard. “As unkept properties remain a problem throughout the city, we must take action now to maintain the integrity of our neighborhoods.”

Typically, violators are simply cited and fined with few cases ending up in Court. This year, 50 of the City’s worst offenders have been sent letters which outline the legal course of action if they fail to comply. If an inspection shows that they have a property with high weeds and grass, and fail to abate, a civil complaint will be filed in Environmental Court. Property owners determined to be in violation are subject to a fine up to $2,500 per violation, plus court costs.

“This year, we are taking a more aggressive approach against chronic offenders,” said City Prosecutor Helen Marchal. “Last year the City mowed thousands of properties, some multiple times. The letter makes clear that one failed inspection and failure to respond will result in aggressive prosecution. “

“DCE developed a nuisance abatement section to specifically identify problem property owners who are not only draining City resources, but are having a negative impact on the quality of life and safety in our neighborhoods,” said Director of the Department of Code Enforcement Rick Powers. “This is one last warning to problem owners to be a good neighbor and take responsibility for their properties or face tougher consequences.”

Since the mowing season began, DCE has issued over 4,000 notices of violation to property owners maintaining weeds and grass over 12 inches in height. The City is only required to send one notice of violation per calendar year, and an owner has five days to abate the nuisance from the date of the notice. If a property owner fails to mow the property, the City will dispatch a mowing vendor to cut the property and bill the owner for the mowing service.

To report a property with high weeds and grass, please contact the Mayor’s Action Center at 327-4MAC (4622).

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