Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Leaves on Streets; Items on Agendas
Speech to Grants Pass City Council, 11/2/2011
Leaves are falling on our streets again, and we still don’t have an ordinance generally requiring adjacent property residents or owners to clean them up in a reasonable length of time. It’s amazing that we haven’t had one all these years. There must have been a time when people cleaned up leaves in front of their houses as a matter of course. They no longer do so, and in many places leaves lie there until they rot, looking ugly and polluting our river as they do so. They also become a safety hazard, becoming slick when wet. They make it hard to see and pick up litter, and make our town look even sloppier and our people lazier than it has all summer.
I have brought a proposed ordinance before this Council a couple of times over the last few years, and it has been ignored. No councilor would stick his head up and take the risk of public disapproval, it seems. There should be an independent process for citizens to bring an item to the agenda.
For now, I will gather signatures on a petition to ask the Council to discuss the matter. It would be good to know how many signatures it would take, and I would appreciate responses from individual councilors by e-mail on this point. But we should have an explicit petition process outlined in an ordinance so we have a consistent target to shoot for, and so different proposals are treated the same.
Right now, City staff or councilors can bring an item to the agenda, but ordinary citizens cannot. Either staff or councilors have to sponsor an item that they may be nervous getting out in front of. We should not have to do an initiative campaign and an expensive election to pass ordinance that the Council might pass after a bit of discussion. We can always move on to an initiative if the Council doesn’t pass it, or the discussion may convince the proponents that the ordinance needs work or shouldn’t be passed at all. It took only a few words from our County Counsel in an Admin meeting for me to drop a proposed ordinance a while back.
Please get back to me on how many signatures it would take for one or more of you to put an item on the agenda. This can help us write an ordinance that will codify this process for everyone.