Weeds growing problem

By Tony Gutierrez: CNJ staff writer

This year’s abundant rainfall has made weeds abundant too, leading to a growing number of weed control violations.

The number of violations in May was about triple that of May 2006: 356 compared with 118.

By city ordinance, property owners must keep grass, weeds and similar plants below 12 inches.

“We’re probably close to 12 inches of rain,” said Marcus Brice, 53, chief code compliance officer for Clovis. “The annual estimate for Clovis is 17 inches and we’re not even halfway through the year and we’re 5 inches away from the average.”

Larry Powell, 53, science department chair at Clovis Community College, said weeds grow quickly with rain.

“It can really eat into the farmers’ profits, but the rain’s helping the crops, too,” Powell said. “They take up moisture from the crops (and) also space. They can really take off in a hurry if you don’t watch out.”

The rain has made property maintenance a challenge, according to Tall Grass Broadcasting market manager Patrick Watkins, 38. Property owned by Tall Grass Broadcasting on Sycamore Street had tall vegetation, but Watkins said the city has not approached him about it because it is cut every two weeks.

“We’ve had a little more of a battle on our hands as far as maintaining the property,” Watkins said. “If the rain continues like this, we’ll have to get it cut once a week.”

Brice said many citizens don’t maintain their property until they receive a notice.

“I’ve been told to my face, ‘I won’t cut it until you give me a letter,’” Brice said.

Once a violation is issued, residents have five full business days to maintain the property before code compliance officers take further action.

Brice added safety is one of the reasons behind the ordinance because many rodents, snakes and insects seek refuge in tall weeds.

“It provides a breeding and nesting ground for mosquitos and the possibility of West Nile,” Brice said. “It preserves the aesthetics in the neighborhood as well as preserves the health, safety and welfare of the citizens.”

Code compliance officer Andy Teconchuk said most people comply with the notices.

“We put our phone number at the bottom of every notice,” Teconchuk said. “If they need an extra week, we understand. We would rather they do it themselves so we don’t have to take care of the problem.”

How the city’s weed compliance program works:

• Step 1: A code compliance officer will either leave a warning note with the code written on it and ask the owner to clean it up, or will issue a notice of violation.

• Step 2: If a warning note has already been left, the officer will issue a notice of violation, giving the property owner five business days to correct the violation.

• Step 3: If the resident has not complied with the notice, the city will make arrangements for an ERT crew to clean the lot and charge a $105 administraion fee plus the cost of equipment and labor. Cost varies on the size of the lot.

• Step 4: If the resident will not cooperate with or accept the ERT crew, the officer will issue a citation to appear in court.

By the numbers:

Weed control violations:

• Jan.-April 2006: 304

• Jan.-April 2007: 593

• May 2006: 118

• May 2007: 356

Source: City of Clovis