Thursday, January 10, 2013

Weeds and Litter v. Posting on Poles

Speech to Grants Pass City Council, November 3, 2010 
            Last Saturday, I had just finished taping my speech to the County Commissioners about Sheriff Gilbertson to the pole across from my protest in 6th and G when Community Service Officer Moran gave me an official written warning to not do so any more.
            This “Notice of Violation” has several boxes for common complaints that were not checked; Cpl. Moran had to write in the number and title of the code.  The first two boxes were for 5.12.060, Weed/Noxious Growth; and 5.12.070, Scattering Rubbish, apparently the top two complaints of city residents—for good reason, since the City seems to enforce these two ordinances only by complaint, and then not fully.  If you don’t enforce on sight against violations that are both common and obvious, they will multiply.
            It has been over two years since the Council revised ordinance 9.21.047, changing it from forbidding only commercial posting on public property to all posting on public property—in spite of me telling the Council that the Oregon Supreme Court said that cities cannot forbid posting on public utility poles, a traditional free-speech forum that long ago gave rise to the term, “posting.”  Let us compare the results of posting on poles v. not enforcing weed and litter ordinances. 
If we can post on poles, then people may easily and cheaply advertise their yard sales, lost pets, political issues, and concerts to people in a particular area, something no other advertising medium allows.  If people are offended by a notice or it becomes unsightly or unnecessary, then anyone may take it down.  The interference of police is unnecessary evil; this code should be revised to exclude public utility poles or to regulate such posting to make it easier to clean the poles.
            If weed and litter nuisance codes are not properly enforced on sight, then we get what we have now: a city gone to seed, full of weeds and litter, with many properties that have progressed to the safety hazard stage.  People don’t complain to police until a property has long since become hazardous.  Police are needed to prevent hazards and keep the peace between neighbors.
            That our CSOs would rather enforce codes against free speech than against nuisances that can progress to safety hazards is the fault of our City Manager and Public Safety Chief.  This is yet another reason that we need to eliminate the City Manager position and elect an executive Mayor; and eliminate the position of Public Safety Chief, an unnecessary position in which he does unnecessary evil, and elect our police chief, just like we do our sheriff.
Published at under Land and Liability #3.

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