Think Code Enforcement is bad in Sioux Falls?

This code enforcement story will make you cringe;

David Englett of Crowley, Texas is being charged after he didn’t pay a series of Arlington city fines for, among other things, not mowing the lawn of a home he had already lost to foreclosure.

Yup, you heard right. A home he doesn’t own. WOW!

It reminds me a bit of the Dan Daily case, when they couldn’t make the concrete pad infraction stick, the city made up other infractions. I think all of the code enforcement officers need to take an extended break at the Skate Park.

I had to laugh at Patrick Lalley’s column the other day in the Non-Free online Newspaper complaining about tree trimming. Funny how 1) I brought to attention the insanity of Project TRIM a few years back 2) He thinks snowgates are silly, but he is tired of the city harassing him about tree trimming. Sorry, Pat, but they are in the same category. City services, that’s what we pay taxes for. They own the trees, they should trim them. They also own the ends of our driveways, they should clean them.


#1 Pathloss on 03.05.12 at 8:41 am

At least he can appeal. No appeal in Sioux Falls and no access to the courts. Heil Huether

#2 rufusx on 03.05.12 at 9:45 am

You don’t ave to trim the trees in front of your property – the city WILL do it – and it might even be cheaper to have them do it – it depends. Think of it as like a condo maintenance fee. Common property.

And, you don’t HAVE to clean out the end of your driveway – you could just drive through it, or nbot use it. In fact, you don’t HAVE to have a drive-way in front of your house – that’s your (or the builders’) choice at work. You could have an alley and a driveway behind you house.

These are all design or lifestyle choices. Choices and priviledges come with a price. Don’t talk about them like they are rights.

#3 Tom H. on 03.05.12 at 11:09 am

I’m split on this issue. In one sense, yes, it’s city property, it should be maintained by its owner. On the other hand, We the People ARE the City, and we owe a certain civic duty to our fellow citizens. I’d hate see a great civic institution like our City devolve into just another corporate monolith for which we don’t feel any loyalty, pride, or responsibility.

#4 l3wis on 03.05.12 at 1:40 pm

This is my opinion on Project TRIM, I think it is needed and, heck since we have a forestry department, we might as well put them to work. BUT, I think trimming the trees in the Blvd should be a joint partnership between the city and adjacent property owners. In other words, the city can ASK property owners to trim the trees in the Blvd and give them a time frame to complete the trimming. I bet you would have 70-80% compliance. Most people who are able bodied to do the work, will, because they want their property to look nice. But there are some, that just can’t physically do it, or can afford to pay someone to do it. I think after the timeframe is up, the city should just trim the trees that are not in compliance. No fines – No charge.

#5 rufusx on 03.05.12 at 2:43 pm

If there “no charge” option were based ENTIRELY on income – with PROOF – I’d be in favor of that. There are plenty of people that if they aren’t charged – just won’t do it. In fact, once it was understood that the city would “just do it” – no charge, then why would anyone do it themselves??

#6 57106 on 03.05.12 at 3:15 pm

The City does not own boulevard trees or the end of your driveway. These are constructed within the public right-of-way which is very different than City property.

#7 l3wis on 03.05.12 at 9:39 pm

Ruf, I disagree. I think many homeowners are very proud of their property’s appearance. I think many people would comply without city pressure.

57106 – Okay, I will play along. Who holds liability insurance on the ‘Public Right Away’?

#8 57106 on 03.06.12 at 10:40 am

I don’t know why liability insurance is entering the discussion. I believe both the City and adjacent property owners are responsible for accidents in the right-of-way. I think a good lawyer would name both an adjacent property owner and the City in a lawsuit over a trip or slip on sidewalk in the public right-of-way. Either way, I work on city property, private property and in the public right-of-way and they are distinctly different.

#9 Craig on 03.06.12 at 10:42 am

Again Scott you should bring this issue up with the city council and get some definitive answers instead of griping about it six times a year.

The city may have liability insurance to cover the cost of falling branches onto snow plows etc, but I would bet if you check you would find it won’t cover you if a branch falls onto your car sitting in the driveway or onto your house.

This is the same situation as a neighbor’s tree falling on your house. In that case your insurance covers the damage to your home. Their insurance only covers it if/when you have previously notified them that the tree is in danger of falling over due to neglect, age, damage etc.

57106 is right – the city doesn’t own those trees or the boulevard area. They have a right-of-way and an easement upon it. You think you have it bad go talk to a farmer. They actually pay taxes to the center of most county roads, so they are paying taxes on land they cannot farm and that other people drive upon. That is the cost of doing business however, and it is the most equitable way we have of collecting the appropriate amount of tax revenue.

As to the idea of trimming trees for free to those who aren’t complaint the idea needs some work. Once people caught on that the city would take care of it if they ignored their trees, nobody would ever pay for the trimming again.

If the trees are a huge issue you have few options. Number one don’t buy property with existing trees in the boulevard. Number two, don’t plant any new ones. Then you can just focus your energy on complaints about the sidewalks. 🙂

#10 l3wis on 03.06.12 at 11:52 am

“The city may have liability insurance to cover the cost of falling branches onto snow plows etc, but I would bet if you check you would find it won’t cover you if a branch falls onto your car sitting in the driveway or onto your house.”

You are right. A friend called the city about a blvd tree branch falling on his car when he was parked in front of his neighbor’s house. The city said, that his neighbor was liable.

#11 l3wis on 03.06.12 at 11:53 am

At a public meeting not to long ago, Mark Cotter said that adjacent property owners are also responsible for sweeping leaves from the curb. He made it sound like street sweeping was a courtesy to citizens, not a requirement.

#12 l3wis on 03.06.12 at 12:26 pm

If you FF towards the end of the informational meeting yesterday, Vernon Brown gets out his Pom-Poms and becomes a cheerleader for code enforcement and Kevin Smith. I felt a little throw-up in my throat watching the spectacle.

#13 l3wis on 03.06.12 at 12:27 pm

#14 cr on 03.06.12 at 2:05 pm

I was at the Informational meeting yesterday…….I don’t know if this comes across on SIRE, BUT, Kevin Smith was extremely “defensive” throughout his presentation!!

This was especially evident when he alluded to the “Dan Daly” case.

#15 Craig on 03.06.12 at 3:31 pm

“Mark Cotter said that adjacent property owners are also responsible for sweeping leaves from the curb.”

Just do what my neighbor does… use your leaf blower to send them into the middle of the street. Someone else’s problem now!

#16 l3wis on 03.07.12 at 8:22 am

CR – I saw that. He seemed to think that most residents just don’t understand, uh, we do understand, code enforcement is a mess. His line about people being mortified that they got a violation made me laugh. I haven’t talked to anyone who is ‘mortified’ more like ‘pissed’. And his examples were kinda silly. The stove issue was an issue of a slum lord not fixing the furnace and the bag of garbage that weathered away, big whoop, or the guy parking on the lawn (see it all the time). I was expecting to see major violations.

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