As weeds continue to grow, so do citizen complaints

Reported by: Henry Ramos
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Updated: 8/22/2013 12:35 am
Weeds are overtaking alleys, medians, vacant lots and many lawns around Lubbock. The complaints about them are stacking up even taller, and the city's code enforcers are having a hard time chopping them down.

Every time Michael Cadenhead walks out his front door he sees high weeds. 

"It is a nuisance, and it doesn't look good," he said.

Cadenhead has lived on 17th Street just East of Avenue Q for nearly three years. His view of this vacant house across the street hasn't changed.

"I think the city should do something with it, or whoever owns the parcels," he said. They should clean it up."

Codes Director Stuart Walker said his office is flooded with weed complaints. The stack is piling up to about 500.

"We are fielding about 50-100 complaints a day just coming into the office," he said.

So why is there a backlog numbering in the hundreds? One answer is a shortage of inspectors. Walker said the 11 he has on staff are swamped.

"The inspectors are out doing these inspections answering these complaints, but I am five full-time inspectors short right now."

Walker also said he's lacking outside contractors the city hires to clean-up the mess. That is, if the owner doesn't tend to the problem.
In that case, the city would charge that owner for the cost of the mowing, plus a $150 administration fee. 
 
"Due to the drought the past couple of years the number of contractors that work with me have diminished," Walker said. "They have gone off and found other lines of work. So, we are a little behind on the weeds ready to be mowed just due to the limited amount of contractors that we have." 

Walker said about 150 properties are ready to be mowed. He said he hopes to have those five inspectors hired in a couple of weeks. 
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Liberty Seeker - 8/21/2013 11:07 PM
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This confirms my theory that code enforcement should be contracted out to the private sector. An independent company, that merely receives a set fee for each valid citation, and a percentage of the fines (and all of the labor if their own employees do the cleanup after the deadline), would get the private sector and municipal properties into compliance. You can rest assured that the private sector workers will not belong to a municipal employees union; they would either produce, or be terminated.
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