Officials planning ordinance crackdown

According to city codes, weeds and grass must be kept below 12 inches and alleyways must be kept clear of debris. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer

City officials plan to step up the battle to rid Clovis of overgrown lawns and unsightly rubbish.

Starting Nov. 1, the city will begin strictly enforcing codes that clearly state weeds must be kept below 12 inches and alleyways must be kept clear of debris.

Keeping the city clean will improve the quality of life and the aesthetics of the city, officials said. Maintaining weeds also eliminates harbor for rodents, decreases littering and cuts down on fire hazards.

City inspector Pete Wilt said compliance officers respond to complaints to inspect specific properties. Wilt said the department’s two full-time officers are kept busy.

“They are behind 150 calls,” Wilt said. “They never really catch up although they get close in the winter months.”

The inspector added current wet conditions are not helping the weed situation.

City Manager Joe Thomas said the complaint calls vary by subject but tall weeds seem to be the biggest problem.
“People call because they want their neighborhoods to look nice,” Thomas said.

Compliance officers will begin posting noncompliance notices on a 3-foot stake in the offender’s yard beginning next month. Wilt said the owner of the property has five days to bring the property “up to code.” Failure to comply will result in the city contracting a weed control service to clean up the yard. The noncompliant owner is required to pay the clean up fee along with a $100 administrative fee plus any applicable taxes. The city inspector said a lien will be placed against the property if payment is not received.

According to Wilt, many of the repeat offenders live out of town. He said he chose to shorten the compliance time because residents were not responding in a “timely manner.” Thomas said lessening the required response time to comply should help “streamline the process.”

“If people come in to the office,” Wilt said, “we will work with them on a payment plan.”

Mayor David Lansford said the code compliance division has his full support.

“Weeds and debris are definitely a health and safety concern,” Lansford said. “Weeds attract mosquitoes and debris creates dangerous situations.” The mayor added that code violations also decrease property values.

The Mayor and Wilt agree that the health, safety and welfare of the community is at stake if area residents refuse to take responsibility for their property.

“We just want Clovis residents to take pride in their property,” Wilt said.