Thursday, January 31, 2013

Enforcement by Complaint Makes Trouble

Speech to Grants Pass City Council, 7/6/2011

            I endured more vandalism yesterday; someone seems to have kicked my metal security door hard enough to tear the heavy screen.   It happened while I was away at work in the afternoon; I discovered it just a bit before dark.  This is an official complaint to the police and City Manager as well as to this Council; copies will be sent to all.
            I have every reason to believe that this vandalism resulted from my complaining about violations of city code, as the police require us to do if we want those codes enforced.  The first case occurred immediately after a neighbor yelled at me in my yard for reporting his dog mess to police.  Yesterday’s case occurred after another neighbor yelled at me on the street for reporting his property several times and then complained to the police about my “harassment” in taking pictures of the weeds hanging over his curb.  Yesterday morning, I told the police that he had cut the weeds off his curb, but had left them laying in the street, violating code.
            As Tim Cummings told you a few weeks ago, enforcement of weed and litter nuisance ordinances by complaint leads to unequal enforcement and bad blood between neighbors.  It doesn’t help matters when your Community Service Officers don’t read and enforce the code, tell violators they aren’t in violation when they are, and tell the perps who ratted on them. 
            If I were less foolhardy or courageous, however one looks at it, I would have given up on my neighbors and our police after the first case of retaliatory vandalism.   But that’s how slums are created, and I am not about to allow a slum to develop or remain in my neighborhood. 
If our officers would read our nuisance codes and enforce against violations on sight, we would have a remarkably clean and beautiful town, as we did in the mid-eighties when I first lived here. Twenty-five years ago, we didn’t have puncture vine or crabgrass, star thistle didn’t grow in town, and we didn’t have yards full of false dandelion.
Even windblown weeds don’t travel far in a city full of trees.  When I have a wind-blown weed problem at one of my customers’ properties, I can be fairly sure that there are some uncontrolled weeds within half a block.  If our police would enforce our code against maturing and seeding weeds, I could work fewer hours for each customer and serve more of them.  Please enforce these laws without making us complain, and thereby keep peace between neighbors, instead of causing trouble.
Published at Yahoo Voices

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