Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Plan For Weed and Litter Control

Speech to the Grants Pass City Council, 6/20/12
Honorable Councilors, Mayor, and Manager:
Last meeting, I pointed out that the most useful thing that City Police can do when not answering calls is to enforce our nuisance codes, particularly against weeds and litter. 
Litter is the easy job, and should be done first.  All the City has to do is tell the citizens that our code will be enforced; people better clean up their properties and frontages.  Police should then start doing foot patrols to enforce it.  Each officer can be assigned an area to cover each week, moving his car from block to block, walking that block, and moving to the next.
I lived in Everett, Washington, when that city decided to enforce its litter code.  A lot of unemployed men suddenly found jobs by offering their litter-picking services to businesses.  Many of our larger store parking lots are a mess and a source of blowing trash.
Weeds, however, cannot wait; fire season is here, and they are seeding and drying.  We don’t need another forest fire in town.  The City should tell residents that our weed code, which forbids mature and seeding weeds, will be fully enforced next year, but this year, all weedy vegetation must be cut to 2” high, and anything growing over pavements must be cut back, or pulled if it has stickers, including shrubbery and especially blackberries and puncture vine.  Puncture vine, star thistle and other sticker weeds should not be tolerated anywhere, anytime, once they start flowering.
The City should also encourage people to water their lawns and pull the false dandelions that have grown in, and promise to drop the water rates if they use enough to justify a decrease.  Water treatment is mostly overhead; we pay nearly the same overall for water whether we use a little or a lot.  The less we use overall, the more we pay individually.  As rates rise, people use less; it’s a vicious downward spiral.  Whenever we are not in a drought, we should use our water to keep our grass green and control our weeds. 
To be able to enforce a weed code, police must be able to spot them, and should be able to tell people how best to control them.  I will happily donate my services this year to take groups of police for walks around neighborhoods, pointing out various weeds and discussing their control.
And I respectfully request that this Council pass an ordinance requiring residents to clean organic and mineral debris from their pavements and frontages as well, the better to keep our city and our storm water clean.
Published at Yahoo Voices.

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