Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tolerating Neglect Slows Infill

Speech to the Grants Pass City Council, 9/19/12.  Video of the meeting is available at:
Honorable Councilors, Mayor, and Manager:
          This week, you and the County Commissioners planned to come to some agreement on expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary, or UGB.  Some have said that we shouldn’t expand it much or at all, with all the vacant businesses, homes, and lots all over town.  They fear further “sprawl,” which Senate Bill 100 was passed in 1971 to prevent.
          And yet, despite that tight boundary around our city, and the high land prices that tempted our City Council to buy 250 acres of farmland 2 miles outside the UGB, vacant lots all over the newer parts of town are still vacant.  They are apparently owned by people like Ward Ockenden, forever selling that corner lot between Mill, M and the Parkway, and never getting the price that he thinks he should get.  There is little cost for him to hold it as long as the City doesn’t enforce its code against weeds and litter, so he can keep dreaming of the fortune that he thinks he’s going to get someday.
          Likewise, the owner of the big lot at M and Milbank that is covered with goat heads, as well as a batch of other weeds, has had little incentive to take the market price for his lot.  Neither have the people who own the weedy, littered lots on F Street, on the East side of Agnes, and all along Redwood Avenue.
          Over the last 30 years, since I lived here in the 80’s, this city has doubled in population and tripled in size.  Sprawl, the bugaboo that SB 100 was written to stop, has not been stopped, because properties brought into the city have never had to be kept to city code.  Parts of the fire safety code were enforced by our firemen until Code Enforcement, now called Community Service, was formed, apparently to keep those pesky firemen from bothering Very Important People like Representative Ron Maurer, Councilor Tim Cummings, and Pacific Power.  So owners of vacant land brought into the city have not had to spend the money to keep the rest of us safe, and we have had grass, brush, and even forest fires in our city, in addition to the ugliness of weeds and the nuisance of their seeds spreading from one property to the next.
          Please eliminate our Community Service Officers, and order all police to enforce our nuisance and safety hazard codes against weeds and litter.  And please order all of our public servants to pick up litter from public properties within the city, for one-half hour per day.
Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener       541-955-9040  

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