Spring is officially here, and that means the City’s Neighborhood Services Division is busier than usual responding to citizen complaints, Community Development Director Larry Curtis said this week.
The division, which is part of the City’s Community Development Department, is responsible for investigating violations and enforcing the City’s Municipal Codes pertaining to private property maintenance issues. Consisting of just three field officers and a supervisor, plus an additional staff member who handles abatements, the division is typically overwhelmed with calls, especially during the spring and summer.
“We receive a significant uptick in complaints during the spring and summer months, largely due to vegetation — grass growing in excess of the legal limit and heavy vines pulling down fences, that sort of thing — as well as other factors such as inoperable vehicles that people intend to work on and junk or trash that gets put in the yard but not disposed of properly,” Curtis said.
“Staff response to these types of calls is predominately complaint-driven simply because we simply don’t have time to drive around and look for violations. This is where citizens can make a real difference in helping to keep their neighborhoods cleaner and safer, as we are counting on them to tell us where the problems are.”
Neighborhood Services handles more than 3,000 nuisance complaints each year, averaging 50-60 calls per week during the spring and summer seasons. Neighborhood Services Officers are able to investigate an average of five to seven calls per day, Curtis said.
Violations most often reported involve high weeds, trash, inoperable vehicles and dilapidated structures or structures in disrepair, he said.
“Most of it is common sense: Clean up any trash or junk in the yard, keep your yard mowed, and don’t park inoperable vehicles where they can be seen by the public,” he said.
Curtis said vehicles that are not in working order should be kept in the garage, and fifth wheels, RVs and boats must be parked on the side of the home when possible rather than in the driveway or in front of the house.
“We get a lot of complaints from neighbors who have trouble seeing around recreational vehicles to pull out of their driveways,” he said.
While citations are issued and other actions may be taken if a property owner refuses to comply with City ordinances, officers make every effort to work with owners to bring the property into compliance.
“We try to be as understanding as we can be, and we strive for voluntary compliance,” Curtis said. “But there are cases where we have to take action to ensure problems are resolved.”
Curtis said this is especially the case anytime safety is an issue, but also when unmaintained property brings down property values for other residents in the neighborhood.
To report a property nuisance, complete a complaint form found on the City’s website, www.cityofbartlesville.org, or call 918.338.4230 and leave a message.