Tempe messy yard cops terrorize citizens
Sounds like it has turned into a jobs program for landscaping companies
"the city implemented a preferred vendor program about three months ago which lists three landscaping companies the city vetted"I wonder do these landscaping companies have people driving around reporting people with messy yards to the Tempe Messy Yard Police so they can get business.
I bet they do.
Junk yard violations double in Tempe
Darren DaRonco, The Republic | azcentral.com 11:32 a.m. MST May 8, 2015
Tempe ramped up its code enforcement efforts to clean up unsightly properties overrun with weeds and junk.
The result: A doubling of code-violation notices sent to homeowners went from 4,374 in 2012 to over 8,788last year.
City officials attributed most of the spike to the addition of more inspectors after the city cut positions during the recession.
"In 2009, our staff was reduced quite dramatically: We went from 19 inspectors to nine inspectors because of the economic downturn," said Jeff Tamulevich, Tempe's code compliance administrator. "We didn't have the manpower to address the violations proactively at the time."
But residents continued to list unkempt yards as one of their biggest concerns with the city.
"It was always something residents recognized as being important and something they aren't necessarily pleased with," Tamulevich said. "Three years ago the council started recognizing code-compliance issues were always one of the top issues." .
So the city hired more inspectors and fanned out across the city searching for violations instead of mainly relying on resident complaints.
It also started an annual survey of Tempe homes for code violations as a way to pin down just how much of a problem the city had.
"At the time, people too often talked in examples rather than in data," said Councilman Kolby Granville, who pushed for the survey. "Someone would say 'I've driven through a neighborhood and it looks fine. Or I've driven through a neighborhood and it looks bad.' That's a really imprecise way to know what's going on."
Each year, inspectors pick about 650 homes at random out of an estimated 31,620 homes and check for code issues.
What the survey revealed was that in certain parts of Tempe, over 50 percent of the homes surveyed contained a violation. The majority of violations were for weeds over six-inches high or dead vegetation in the yard.
Granville said the data highlights which parts of the city to concentrate enforcement in and provides a road map on how to reduce future violations.
"Now we have a baseline idea of what we can (define) as a good enough neighbnorhood. Maybe a neighborhood that scores a 10 out of 10 isn't what we're looking for because we just can't afford it. But maybe and 8 out of 10 is perfectly fine neighborhood," Granville said.
Even though over 8,000 residents got dinged with a violation last year, only a small fraction actually received the roughly $180 fine.
That's because 98 percent of residents fixed the problem before the up to 30-day deadline passed.
Tamulevich said the city also works with property owners and offers a variety of programs to help people correct the issue and avoid fines.
"Our goal is not to issue citations," Tamulevich said. "We're trying to clean up the city in every way possible. We know that every resident doesn't have the ability to clean up their property. Some people have hardships."
For those, the city will attempt to put them in touch with non-profits who might be able to help clean up their yards.
For residents looking for a long-term solution to their yard problems, the city implemented a preferred vendor program about three months ago which lists three landscaping companies the city vetted.
While plans vary by yard size, they start at $35 a month.
"The city itself is not involved," Tamulevich said. "We're not taking money, we're just introducing the two parties."
As part of the vetting process, the city required the companies' employees to undergo drug tests and background checks if they work on residents' yards.
Tamulevich said the program is likely the first of its kind in the Valley, and roughly 100 residents have signed up.
"We didn't know what to expect but it's been a winner," he said.
For more information on the referral program or other code issues, visit www.tempe.gov/code.