America the Messy Yard Police State

Messy yard cops terrorize Phoenix neighborhoods!!!!


Neighborhood-blight complaints on the rise in Phoenix

by Connie Cone Sexton - Oct. 1, 2010 01:28 PM

The Arizona Republic

The lower half of Chris Pelton's body is hidden as he walks through weeds on a cul-de-sac at 38th Street and Sunstream Way in north Phoenix.He's standing behind 4-foot-high weeds, just one of several clusters of dead vegetation on the lot, one of seven in the cul-de-sac that Pelton, a city blight inspector, is reviewing.

Only one lot in the cul-de-sac has a house. The other spots are vacant, save for the weeds.

Pelton was there Wednesday because someone had filed a complaint about the property, proposing that the lots violate a city ordinance that says you can't have grass or weeds higher than 6 inches.

Similar sites like this one are popping up across the Valley, including lots in northeast Phoenix. Most are involved in foreclosure.

The city's Neighborhood Services Department handles complaints of blight. Because of staffing constraints, inspectors generally review sites only when residents have filed formal complaints.

The number of inspected lots has risen over the past two years.

Erynn Crowley, deputy director of the city's Neighborhood Service's Preservation Division, said inspections are up not only because of foreclosures but because more residents are collectively working to improve their neighborhoods.

In fiscal 2008-09, she said, the city opened 47,211 cases. There were 67,859 cases opened in 2009-10.

About 90 percent of the cases are resolved before they go to court. Those property owners who don't comply can face fines of $100 to $2,500. Crowley said less than 1 percent wind up in jail, and a majority of the cases are resolved within 50 days.

For a case that does go to court, the city submits the property review and photographs that inspectors have taken. Pelton, as he walked the lots on Sunstream Way, pointed out the ease of showing the height of the weeds.

"You can see them up against the block wall," he said. "The normal block size is 8 inches, and it's pretty obvious you've got weeds there that are 2 1/2 feet tall. It's pretty simple to show the judge."

Getting residents willing to file complaints about possible blight is a city goal.

"Residents are our eyes and ears in a community," Crowley said.

Some people don't report blight because they don't want to get someone in trouble, she said, adding: "They know they may be having problems because they lost a job."

And then there are people who aren't sure how to contact the city.

To help resolve that issue, the city holds three to four workshops during the year to explain the process.

A workshop is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Paradise Valley Community Center on 40th Street, north of Bell Road.


Phoenix residents can report blight with Droid, iPhone apps

by Lynh Bui - Oct. 1, 2010 04:39 PM

The Arizona Republic

Phoenix residents can help clean up their neighborhoods and report blight to the city with just a push of a button. Phoenix recently became the first city in the nation to launch a free application that allows Droid owners to use their phones to report stray shopping carts, graffiti, overgrown weeds, and other code enforcement or neighborhood issues. Earlier this summer, the city launched a similar app for iPhones.


Users select from a menu what problem they'd like to report, from litter to abandoned shopping carts to broken fences. Users photograph the problem area, and then a global positioning system pinpoints the location. The complaint is sent to the city and processed within seven days, said Meryl Lawrence, with the Neighborhood Services Department.


For Droid users: download the free application from the Droid Market by searching "myphoenix" as the keyword. Then click on "My Phoenix." For iPhone users: Visit the iTunes store and search for "MyPhxAZ."


Reporting blight isn't about ratting out your neighbors, said Lisa Honebrink, a spokeswoman for the city. "It makes the community safer and cleaner," she said. "Crime goes down and property values go up." HOAs and neighborhood groups that want a demonstration of the app can contact neighborhood services at 602-534-4444.


Just because some residents don't have smart phones, doesn't mean they can't report blight, Lawrence said. The city will still accept complaints through or 602-262-7844. "The apps are just another tool for residents," Lawrence said. Anywhere from 90,000 to 100,000 contact the city each year with blight complaints.


America the Messy Yard Police State