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Archive for Sunday, June 27, 2010

Summer, mowing violations go hand in hand

This house violated the city's mowing rules.

This house violated the city's mowing rules.

June 27, 2010

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Some of the city's latest mowing violations. This one is in the 1200 block of Ohio Street.

Some of the city's latest mowing violations. This one is in the 1200 block of Ohio Street.

Another of the city's latest mowing violations, this one in the 1200 block of Prairie.

Another of the city's latest mowing violations, this one in the 1200 block of Prairie.

Too-tall grass could lead to city warning

The city has already given out 500 notices for grass that is too tall, or 12 inches or taller. Enlarge video

Facts to know about the city weed code (Chapter 18, Article 3):

• Grass that is 12 inches or more is considered “excessive growth” and therefore in violation.

• Property owners have 10 days from the mail date of the notice to mow the grass.

• City-initiated removal costs must be paid within 30 days or the costs will be added to the property tax.

Complaints of unmowed lawns in Lawrence are starting to pick up. And as the complaints increase, so do the number of code violations distributed by the city.

During the past three months the city has issued 426 notices for residents in violation of the city weed control code.

Brian Jimenez, city code manager, said violations tend to pick up around mid- to late April and last through July.

“It’s a big seasonal violation,” Jimenez said. “We get tons of complaints coming in.”

Each year for the past several years, the city has distributed up to 1,100 notices. While most violators take care of the problem, Jimenez said that for about a quarter of the cases, owners do not come into compliance. When this happens, the city contracts for the property to be mowed. He said the cost for contracted mowing is usually $40, a fee that is billed to the property owner.

“Something unique about the grass code is that violations never go to court,” Jimenez said. “Violators are billed instead.”

Mark Lehmann, owner of Vintage Management, is one of the property owners who’s been warned in the past. He said past violations he’s received usually concern tenants in single-family houses who don’t mow.

“We keep our apartments and duplexes mowed often, but we can’t force tenants to mow,” Lehmann said.

He said when tenants fail to keep their yard up to code, the company will mow the yards but charge the tenant for the service.

Repeat offenders are common. According to the code, property owners are only given a first-time notice. That means for subsequent violations, instead of issuing a warning, the city will charge the owner for another contracted mowing service.

“We may mow the same property three or four times a year,” Jimenez said.

Lawns can grow out of control for a number of reasons, ranging from broken mowers to property foreclosures. However, the desire for lawns to be aesthetically pleasing makes the code a hard one to overlook.

“It’s a regulation that is easily seen by people, so people are very likely to report it,” Jimenez said.

Besides aesthetic motivation, rodent infestations, blight, health concerns and fire hazards are other reasons that make the code necessary.

More than half of the complaints are from the public.

To report a code violation, visit lawrenceks.org/pds/code_violation or call 832-7700.

Comments

jafs 4 years, 6 months ago

As the landlord, Vintage could either:

A. Mow the yards themselves, and charge a little more rent. B. If tenants fail to comply with their leases, evict them.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 4 years, 6 months ago

We MUST save endangered species, such as the internal combustion engine!~)

feetup 4 years, 6 months ago

my old house is now the property of BOA.....send them the ticket...

jaks 4 years, 6 months ago

Should early morning mower be issued a ticket?

martyks 4 years, 6 months ago

We have a neighbor who sometimes mows at 7:00 a.m. on a Sunday. Pulllease! I'd much rather live next to a back yard of natural grasses than to have to put up with that nonsense.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 4 years, 6 months ago

Lawn equipment is exempt from the city's noise ordinance.

Charlie Sabotage 4 years, 6 months ago

vintage management also owns the lovely apartments known as "the Oaks" behind el mezcal on 23rd. on their old rental applications one of the questions to be answered was "are you affliated with a gang?" A swift choice not to fill out that application was made

ralphralph 4 years, 6 months ago

If the City would charge an administrative fee substantial enough to cover the true cost -- receiving the complaint, investigating the complaint, giving notice, arranging for a contractor to mow, documenting all of this, submitting the charges to be placed on the taxes -- what would the charge be? It should be high enough (triple the cost of a privately-arranged mowing job) that the non-mower would have a clear incentive to hire someone to take care of it. Otherwise, they will sit back and let the City do it, because it doesn't cost any more than doing otherwise, and the bill comes later. It results in a wasteful process, in which all of us who do what we are supposed to do end up paying for those who don't, in large part because of the was the remedy is structured. Thus, the next question: Who gets the work of doing the contract mowing? Somebody's brother-in-law would top my list of guesses, but I'm just cynical that way.

maxcrabb 4 years, 6 months ago

Two phone calls, ralph.

1) "hey, this lawn is overgrown."

2) "hey, go mow this lawn."

Send bill. Done.

We allready pay the city employee to do their job, the tenant pays the bill for the mowing. Where you get off complaining, I'll never know.

UfoPilot 4 years, 6 months ago

$40 to get someone else to mow the lawn in 100 degree heat? What a GREAT deal! Count me in...

BrianR 4 years, 6 months ago

The rattiest lawn in our neighborhood is owned by the City of Lawrence.

bblbfolks 4 years, 6 months ago

Lucky ducks! In KC,MO if you get a violation notice and don't get the lawn mowed within 48 hours, you goto court. $75 court cost + whatever the judge fines you (mine was $150). Then again the houseing court judge there thinks that he's the king of the world.

purplesage 4 years, 6 months ago

I have an idea to save the government money: repeal some of this foolishnees - like yard mowing and snow shoveling ordinances - and quit harassing people. If you have a neighbor who can't mow, lend a hand.

maxcrabb 4 years, 6 months ago

If we started with your second suggestion, we wouldn't need the first.

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