Saturday, October 17, 2015

The City wants your “Hot Spots”

At the October 7th City Council meeting, a gentleman read a letter from his wife about the trashiness of our city parks.  She had been avoiding taking her young children to them because of the litter, but someone told her that the little park downtown at 3rd and G was pretty clean.  She walked down there with her 3-year-old boy and 18-month girl, and immediately saw transients hanging out right next to the play area, smoking and drinking, with their dogs, and butts everywhere.  The boy wouldn’t let her turn around, so she had to keep them away from the cigarette butts and the dogs for a while before they could leave.
At the end of the meeting, during matters from Council, Dan DeYoung said, “I know that people like Rycke don’t think I listen to her, but...” and proceeded to tell us that he had been talking to the City Manager about getting work crews to clean up particular “hot spots” for litter, to which I muttered, “How about enforcing the law?”  He said, “I’m sure that someone here could help us with that,” and the Council waved at me.
We could supply them with a long list of places that desperately need cleaning, but why should we?  They come in two varieties: those owned by the city and those owned by others.  The City should be cleaning its parks and other properties as a matter of course; it should be enforcing its code on others through its police.  As the public safety performance auditor told them last year, “Enforcement by complaint is not enforcement; it does not work; and it is not fair to the citizens who expect police to enforce the law.” 
As the lady pointed out in her letter, all of our parks are a mess, particularly around playgrounds and shelters.  Police should be told to open their eyes to litter and warn private offenders to clean it up well before it becomes an abatable safety hazard, a “hot spot” too hard to easily clean up, such that the city can do it for 20% over cost, plus fines.
We should complain, but not about particular “hot spots.”  We should complain about the city requiring that we complain to get enforcement against ongoing, obvious violations of our property maintenance codes.  We should complain about the city allowing neighborhood nuisances to ripen into safety hazards for the city to harvest, about the city profiting off hazards in our neighborhoods and targeting only the worst offenders.  Everyone should be told to clean up their properties by police who notice their trash.  It doesn’t matter who left it there; if it is on your property, it is your trash.

October 17, 2015 protest leaflet.  Published on  Sign the petition at
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Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener          541-955-9040