Last meeting, I contrasted the non-enforcement of weed and litter nuisance codes with posting on poles, which the City seems to care more about than weeds and litter. This week, we will look at how the City socializes street cleaning, while loading the heavy burden of building streets onto individual property owners.
An important part of maintaining pavement is keeping organic litter from lying on it too long, turning into soil, and growing plants whose roots turn cracks into holes into pot-holes. As they begin to rot, leaves can make pavements slippery as well.
Cleaning streets can easily be handled by owners or occupants of adjacent property, but the City does not make them do it. Our code says that one shall not deposit organic litter on pavements, but that is not well-enforced, and the code does not speak to leaves dropped by trees at all.
The City sends out street-sweeping trucks on particular streets but not all. This gives people the idea that cleaning up streets is the City’s job. Some businesses, even near City Hall, don’t clean up their leaves off their sidewalks until every leaf is off their trees. Some people never clean up their street, and the City doesn’t either; the pavement crumbles, such as on Fry between D and E Streets. Some people actually blow their leaves into the street, and leave them there to rot.
The City also cleans up alleyways so that police can see people who are trying to hide from them. Every alleyway has adjacent properties with owners or occupants who can keep the weeds cut and the litter picked up, but the City pays for Community Service work crews to do it instead-when the weeds get really bad, or someone complains.
Meanwhile, the City charges adjacent property owners, sometimes many thousands of dollars, for a basic function of government: street building and improvements. While taking on the relatively small and controllable cost of cleaning streets and alleys and doing a poor job of it, they privatize the cost of what the government should always pay for, and over which a property owner has no control. They even allow developers to charge people who live next to their developments for the streets that they build next to their properties.
We can better distribute these costs. Taxpayers and developers should absorb the cost of street building and improvements; owners and occupants should keep those streets clean. This Council should revise its codes and the City should use its codes and make us clean up our town.