Citizens, Cut Your Grass!
Common Council is considering a proposal by Ald. Davis with tougher restrictions against overgrown lawns.
Milwaukee’s Common Council wants everyone to have their lawn mowers at the ready.
Council members are considering passing an ordinance lowering the allowed height for grass while raising the fines for violating the restrictions.
The changes would allow the city to deal with problem properties sooner, according to Ald. Joe Davis, the measure’s main sponsor. The ordinance change also would bring in about $870,000 in revenue while costing about $240,000, according to a fiscal impact statement. “It makes the process cash-flow positive,” Davis told the Common Council’s Public Safety Committee last week.
The proposed ordinance, to be considered by the full council on Tuesday, would reduce the allowable height of grass from nine inches to seven inches. It would increase the basic fine for violation the ordinance from $25 to $50 and increase the charge for failing to abate the violation from $65 to $100. The cost of a second violation in the same calendar year would jump from $100 to $150.
A property with overgrown grass “is a problem, whether we like it or not,” Davis said. The issue has been discussed extensively by the city’s committee on abandoned and foreclosed properties, he said. Almost 12,000 properties were cited for violations last year, a DPW official said.
The city tries to respond promptly to complaints about tall grass, but it can take several days or more, up to a few weeks, to get the property mowed, aldermen said. Meanwhile, the grass keeps growing and can be a foot tall or more before it is cut.
The demand for grass-cutting is especially high this year because of the wet spring, said Ald. Robert Puente. “It’s overwhelming.”
DPW is seeking 1.5 full-time positions to help enforce the proposed ordinance.
It is appropriate that the costs are paid by negligent property owners, Davis said. “They’re making the city of Milwaukee look horrible.”