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christagious
05-21-2008, 09:44 PM
I can't provide the link because it messes up, but I'll copy paste the article here.

But before doing that, here's my question(s). I live in the city of Canton, where this is being proposed and council is voting on this next Monday. I plan on running for council next year so I need to start going to council meetings, being vocal, and getting my face out there; present myself as a leader to the community.
I was wondering what kinds of arguments you guys would have against this, we all can probably agree that this is very fascist, but what other alternatives can be provided? The neighborhoods are fed up with yards and empty lots having knee high grass, making the neighborhoods look bad; so they're complaining to the government and police and now something is being done, only it's very extreme.
What other options are there to get people to keep their yards well maintained? Can the citizens of the community "sue" the land owner to get them to mow the lawn? I would think of this as a private party, civil matter rather than a criminal matter that requires jail. Plus, there's enough unemployment here and if somebody goes to jail for 30 days they're gonna lose their job.

Well here's the article:


Plan to jail property owners for tall grass sparks worldwide flurry on Web
UPDATE: 11:56 AM, Wednesday, May 21, 2008
BY ED BALINT
REPOSITORY STAFF WRITER

CANTON The city of Canton has been compared to communists, fascists and terrorists in response to a proposed law that sends repeat violators of the city's high-grass law to jail.

The legislation has drawn the ire and scorn of people as far away as Tulsa, New Orleans, North Carolina, and Sydney, Australia. A Repository story in Tuesday's edition about the plan generated heavy traffic on the newspaper's Web site and triggered scores of e-mail from people outside the area who say it's a blatant example of over-reaching and liberty-infringing government.

One e-mail was titled: "Sounds like Russia to me." Another reader was equally harsh, asking, "Where do they find these Hitlerian morons? 30 days in jail? Something has gone very wrong in this country. What a joke!"

"Putting people in jail for tall grass sounds like an act of terrorism to me," wrote an attorney from Louisiana.

City Council is expected to vote Monday on a proposed amendment to make a second violation of the city's weed and high grass law, a fourth-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $250 and up to 30 days in jail. Existing city law already makes a first-time violation a minor misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $150 and no jail time. The existing law and the proposed amendment also apply to litter on the lots.

CITY RESPONDS

City officials say they would rather not bother with mowing high grass, because it sucks up time and taxpayer money. But severely overgrown lots with grass and weeds ranging from around 12 inches to sometimes 4 feet high drag down city neighborhoods, said Mark Adams, director of environmental health for the city health department.

"We're not after a home in which grandpa had a heart attack and the grass is a little too tall," Law Director Joseph Martuccio said. "This (proposed law is) designed to deter repeat offenders, those who have already been given due process by the city and the bill, and then have subsequently been convicted by a court of law the first time on a minor misdemeanor."

"We're driven by complaints from the neighbors to get these neighborhoods cleaned up," said Councilman Greg Hawk, D-1, a strong proponent of the legislation. "The good neighbors who live next to these vacant lots ... mow their yards (and) they don't want to live next to houses where the grass and weeds are knee-high."

At a council committee meeting Monday night, Martuccio said it may be unlikely that a judge would sentence a repeat high grass violator to jail, unless the judge wants to set an example to deter other violators.

E-MAIL FIRESTORM

Helping drive the avalanche of responses was the posting of the newspaper story on various Web sites, most notably the popular Drudge Report, which wrote its own headline on the article: "City vows to jail people who don't mow lawns."

A reader e-mailed this warning: "Small laws are pieced together into huge tyrannies." At least 40 e-mails streamed in, including one praising Canton: "What a great idea! How about we make this a national law! I wish Broken Arrow and Tulsa, (Okla.) had this same attitude towards property neglect."

'Deplorable condition'

The city's intent is not to patrol city streets and measure yards with rulers to check if grass exceeds the city's existing 8-inch limit, said Service Director Thomas Bernabei. "It's grass which is extraordinarily noticeable," he said "A foot or two longer than the average lot," with many lots in "deplorable condition."

Martuccio agreed. "This is definitely for repeat offenders who pose a safety threat to their neighbors by having the potential for rodents or hidden cans, for example, that a child might fall on and get cut while they're playing."

Increasing the potential punishment is also designed to cut the city's grass-cutting costs on noncity lots, Martuccio said. Hawk said the money would be better spent on hiring police officers and firefighters.

The average overgrown lot costs the property owner $100 per mowing, including labor and equipment costs and a $35 administrative fee, said Kevin Monroe, street superintendent.

VACANT LOTS

Reinforcing the existing law is focused on vacant lots and lots with abandoned houses, Bernabei said. The city cuts about 2,000 noncity-owned lots a year deemed to have excessively high grass, many "way over" 12 inches in height, said Adams of the Health Department. A handful of those lots have owner-occupied homes, he estimated. Twelve of the lot owners are dead. The owners of about 1,100 of the lots have city mailing addresses, Adams said, and about 1,500 are owned by individuals. Banks and corporations own some lots.

Violation notices and bills sent in the mail often get ignored, according to city officials. Tax liens also are filed, Hawk said. The city is considering seeking court judgments to collect the money, he said.

As for Canton being compared to Russia, Adams replied, "If you think this is Russia, don't bother coming into Canton, don't bother coming into a city (with people) who want to live in a sensible and reasonable community."

Reach Repository writer Ed Balint at (330) 580-8315 or e-mail:

ed.balint@cantonrep.com

Help me out here!

Mahkato
05-21-2008, 09:47 PM
The city should buy a dozen goats and turn them loose. Problem solved.

Patriot123
05-21-2008, 09:50 PM
Funny... We have the same laws in surrounding towns around here. As for arguments, it's obvious what kind of argument you could use. "Am I infringing on your rights by not mowing my lawn?" Very basic. Very effective. As for alternatives that you could propose, well... Can't quite make people do something without petty laws and regulations. You could propose taxing those who don't mow their lawn higher. That would sort of still be Fascist, but it's an alternative, somewhat...

nate895
05-21-2008, 09:52 PM
I suppose you could go with a property rights argument for this law if you were able to successfully argue that it significantly damaged neighbor's property values. Thought this is ridiculous. I propose in a spirit of being a good neighbor, you mow your damn lawn anyway.

SeanEdwards
05-21-2008, 09:53 PM
Why do you think it's fascist?

christagious
05-21-2008, 09:58 PM
Why do you think it's fascist?

Put people in jail for not mowing lawn? How is it not?


[QUOTE=nate895;1468666I propose in a spirit of being a good neighbor, you mow your damn lawn anyway.[/QUOTE]

I agree. But I guess the main problems is with a lot of owners who live out of town, and the (probably) hundreds of empty foreclosed houses that the banks aren't taking care of.
I still don't think that jail should ever be considered for not mowing the grass though, there are other solutions.

Would it be infringing on rights or be considered cruel and unusual punishment to have jail inmates or those on community service to do this task?

There are enough people in jail as it is, it would be draining on the tax payers to pay for peopel in jail who didn't mow their grass

nate895
05-21-2008, 10:08 PM
Put people in jail for not mowing lawn? How is it not?




I agree. But I guess the main problems is with a lot of owners who live out of town, and the (probably) hundreds of empty foreclosed houses that the banks aren't taking care of.
I still don't think that jail should ever be considered for not mowing the grass though, there are other solutions.

Would it be infringing on rights or be considered cruel and unusual punishment to have jail inmates or those on community service to do this task?

There are enough people in jail as it is, it would be draining on the tax payers to pay for peopel in jail who didn't mow their grass

People on community service could do it, though I'd say it should be subjected to a modest fee.

Kludge
05-21-2008, 10:19 PM
I forgot about where the Constitution addresses the Right to Higher Property Value by Coercing Your Neighbor to Mow His Damned Grass.

satchelmcqueen
05-21-2008, 10:21 PM
stupid proposal IMO. if people dont like the neighbors tall grass, then they should mow it themselves. that sounds mean, but come on. i understand why you would want your next door property to look good, but really, how far are we going to go in things like this? people need to mind their own business. as bad as i would hate it, if my neighbor wanted to store old cars on his property, or never mow his grass, then i say its his right.

nate895
05-21-2008, 10:24 PM
I forgot about where the Constitution addresses the Right to Higher Property Value by Coercing Your Neighbor to Mow His Damned Grass.

I was saying, you could theoretically argue that. Though there are no property right clauses in the Constitution.

AisA1787
05-21-2008, 10:37 PM
It sounds like a financial issue, not a criminal issue. No one should serve jail time because they fail to pay a bill for a service they didn't request. If the city voluntarily pays to have the lawns mowed then it's the city's problem, not the property owner's.

I would strongly contend that it is NOT a safety issue. If the city is concerned about the safety of children, then they should outlaw automobiles and household chemicals. Many more kids are hit (and killed) by cars and poisoned by cleaning agents than are attacked by wild rodents or cut by hidden cans.

You might suggest an alternative: If people in a neighborhood are concerned about falling property values because of a poorly maintained vacant lot, let the city offer them immunity from prosecution for trespassing if they decide to cut the grass and pick up trash on the vacant property. Of course there are property rights problems with this as well, but it isn't nearly as bad as putting the owner in jail...

Kludge
05-21-2008, 11:46 PM
I was saying, you could theoretically argue that. Though there are no property right clauses in the Constitution.

You can't argue that it's a right anyways..... If he owned the man's lawn, he could cut it - but he doesn't own it and thus has no rights. The only man with rights to the property is the property owner. He ought to be able to dance naked and build a mote around his house if he damn well wants.

Timothy
05-22-2008, 04:00 AM
You should argue like this:

Is there a contract that states the obligations of property owners in this neighborhood? Like not to let your clothes dry in your garden? If there is, the contract has to be fulfilled, if there isn't then you cannot force a contract upon property owners in retrospect.

Dr.3D
05-22-2008, 04:18 AM
I was in a town where if you didn't cut your grass, they would do it for you and then send you a bill.

asgardshill
05-22-2008, 06:07 AM
I was in a town where if you didn't cut your grass, they would do it for you and then send you a bill.

I thought that arrangement was the norm - it certainly is around here. The city'll cut your 3-foot tall weeds but you get a whopping bill for the service (around a grand depending on the size of the lot if memory serves). And if you don't pay it, they slap a lien on your property and tie it up if you try to sell.

I look at this as a public health and safety issue. I would think it no more "fascist" to demand that property owners keep their property mowed than it is "fascist" to have a law prohibiting you from sitting on your front porch and taking pot shots at my house with your shotgun. Yes you have the right to bear a firearm but you don't have a right to shoot at my house or family. Tall weeds and grass attracts rodents which invariably wander over onto my property. And an unkempt property next door kills the property values of others as well. So mow your own damn grass.

amy31416
05-22-2008, 06:23 AM
Grass is passe, grow a groundcover plant that doesn't need to be mowed as often or ever. There's some cool varieties of thyme used for such purposes.

Timothy
05-22-2008, 07:28 AM
Well, on our parcel (the whole 40 acres of it) we have a lot of rodents, so many that they attract up to four buzzards at the same time. Luckily nobody insist on us mowing our grass... phew... bigger problems are caused by foxes and deer anyway... but I'm working on an ash flatbow to get that deer pest under control. (If that doesn't help, I'll start working on a muffler for a shotgun.)

Right now some swallows seem to be interested to settle under our roof, I only hope they'll understand soon enough that they won't be able to raise their offspring there.

I planted some oaks. Perhaps I'll have to fend off boars in the future too. I also planted a linden tree and might use it to feed a bee swarm. But members of the brown bear family seem to be rather shy around here. I hope they won't trouble us. Same goes for wolves and elks.

Yeah... so I think... some people have problems...

acptulsa
05-22-2008, 07:40 AM
If only there were a way to differentiate between property owners who live on the property and those who don't, it would make such a law more palatable. If they live in their quarter acre of personal tallgrass prairie, at least the neighbors can exert some peer pressure. If it is a slumlord, bank, corporate entity or other such undesirable who never even sees the eyesore, more stringent efforts may be needed to get them to respect a community that isn't their own.

I think civil court is the better place to resolve such issues, but if you're going to go throwing people into our already overcrowded prisons over Bermuda grass, save it for the rich people already.

Hell of a subject for a grassroots website, isn't it?

pinkmandy
05-22-2008, 08:04 AM
I don't think you have a right to demand your neighbor upkeep his property to your satisfaction unless it's a safety hazard for you. Jail? That's insane. First they came for the Jews...

acptulsa
05-22-2008, 08:07 AM
I don't think you have a right to demand your neighbor upkeep his property to your satisfaction unless it's a safety hazard for you. Jail? That's insane. First they came for the Jews...

You obviously don't live in a gated community with a homeowner's nazi committee and a dreaded Covenant that even specifies the color of your front door. Yeah, me either.

angelatc
05-22-2008, 08:12 AM
I'd rather see them do something to attract business to Canton.

This is a sham, because there's no way for them to enforce it against bank-owned property. They're also not going to extradite out-of-state owners.

As for not cracking down on Grandpa who had a heart attack? That's exactly where it will go.

angelatc
05-22-2008, 08:17 AM
I don't think you have a right to demand your neighbor upkeep his property to your satisfaction unless it's a safety hazard for you. Jail? That's insane. First they came for the Jews...

It's a community rights issue. Personally, I'd rather live next to the guy with an old junky car stashed behind the garage than the guy who manicures his designer bushes twice a month, but that's just me.

But this isn't for the community - I'd bet that most voters there think that jail is over the line. This is about a city council being upset that they're powerless to control people.

I'd rather see them just cut the lawns and put liens on the property. That won't work on foreclosure properties, but neither will the jail option. Like I said, they're not going to extradite somebody who moved away, and they're not going to arrest a Bank President.

moostraks
05-22-2008, 08:21 AM
You obviously don't live in a gated community with a homeowner's nazi committee and a dreaded Covenant that even specifies the color of your front door. Yeah, me either.

Which is the point. These places exist and the people of the city should not be placed under the mow your grass or else you go to jail law. Then you just become some city run hoa (which is what they have descended into anyways with the current law). Tell them to suck it up and fork out the dough for a house in one of those neighborhoods. The city at large should not have to worry about this nonsense. Talk about how much it will increase their taxes to run more officers to investigate this nonsense, prosecute them, and then jail them. Hit them in the pocket book. They think they have problems with equity lost but you need to make them understand taxes will have to increase more than the value might decrease. GOOD LUCK!!!

christagious
05-22-2008, 09:19 AM
Thanks everybody, I got a lot of good ammunition now for the council meeting.

As for some of you, going on here and saying "just mow your damn grass" isn't helping me out, I mow my grass, I'm just trying to fight this absurd law.

But again, thanks to the rest of you, I'll let you all know how things go next monday

pinkmandy
05-22-2008, 09:24 AM
When you move into a gated community you sign a contract. When you build a house, buy a house you are agreeing to the rules of that PRIVATE community. They are free to be Nazis.

A city, though? I strongly disagree. Imposing jail time on people because neighbors want you to mow your lawn? Where's YOUR right to not mow? What if you like your grass high? ;) Does their desire to see your grass shorter trump your right to private property?

asgardshill
05-22-2008, 09:52 AM
Thanks everybody, I got a lot of good ammunition now for the council meeting.

As for some of you, going on here and saying "just mow your damn grass" isn't helping me out, I mow my grass, I'm just trying to fight this absurd law.

Sorry my post didn't help. It might though if you look at it as a synopsis of what your opponents will probably say.

The "mow your damn grass" line wasn't directed at you personally.

orafi
05-22-2008, 10:04 AM
The city should buy a dozen goats and turn them loose. Problem solved.

Haha, that's exactly what I told my neighbor yesterday when he had to mow his lawn (he didn't have a working lawn mower).

christagious
05-22-2008, 10:20 AM
Sorry my post didn't help. It might though if you look at it as a synopsis of what your opponents will probably say.

The "mow your damn grass" line wasn't directed at you personally.

Ah, okay. Thanks for the warning of what they'll be saying though.
I think I have enough ammo to properly argue a good point now....hopefully.

driller80545
05-22-2008, 10:20 AM
If not in an hoa, no one should have the power to approve or disapprove my landscaping preferences. Just my opinion.