Sunday, June 25, 2006

Time to stop being a nuisance

The council passed the new nuisance law.
Beginning Saturday, the city’s code department will issue $50 tickets for violations on the spot...The fine will continue if the problem persists for three days, bringing the total to $150. The fee then will jump to $300 by the 10th day and the city will turn the case to a court to collect the fines. (Daily Herald 6/25/06)
What was the old law?
Right now, the city’s code department issues warnings for various violations that give property owners about 30 days to comply. If the violation is not addressed within that time, code officers issue $25 citations, which very seldom are enforced, oftentimes remaining on the city’s books until they are paid when a real estate transfer is made. (Daily Herald 6/25/06)
This legislation might have been premature. As a Courier story last week illustrated, the city itself commits code violations. It would probably have been better to strengthen the existing code--by raising the fine to a collectible amount, for example, and by enforcing it. The old law seemed simpler--two trips for the inspector within a month--and yet went unenforced. This new law seems more complicated; an inspector would have to visit a property three times within 10 days before the fine jumps to $300 and goes to collection.

But since the city itself has plenty of property in different states of neglect or even blight, it's probably better if the city focuses first on doing its part. And only after all the property under its control is in good shape, should it crack down on residents' property. I think that the way people treat their property is in part influenced by their perception of the surrounding environment.
There are major and minor streets in Elgin with large potholes, well overdue for repairs and repaving--typically in the neighborhoods where nuisance violations are likely to be reported. There are cracked sidewalks and curbs. When the streets are smooth, and the curbs and the sidewalks look nice, I think we'll be surprised at how well people take care of their yards.

Unfortunately, I suspect that much of the money required for such repairs is being diverted to the far west side, where new roads, fire stations, etc. must be built. According to the Herald, the city has only now increased the impact fees it charges developers, raising it to $24,000 (up from $18,000) for a four-bedroom house. This is a substantial increase, but still well below what some neighboring communities charge. Carpentersville charges $39,000. Yes, Carpentersville sells at a premium over Elgin! It must be because of that famous line in the Smoking Popes song "You Spoke to Me:"
I drove all the way from Carpentersville
To see you here tonight
And it was worth it
You didn't play my favorite song
But that's all right
I love the new stuff too
I'm just glad I got to see you
Alas, how much better Brewfest would have been had the Smoking Popes or some lesser but nevertheless real rock bands been on the stage, rather than only cover bands. It was still fun, but it would have been better. I guess since we're worth $15,000 less than C-ville, we shouldn't ask for too much. Anyway...

I guess I'll have a few more things to say about Brewfest later this week.

And don't forget, you have til Saturday to stop being a nuisance! So drag that ratty sofa off your porch, get on your knees and finger out the weeds, sharpen that hand mower you inherited from grandpa last fall (and never got around to using), roll that hunk of rusted steel you call an automobile off your front lawn and back into the garage, and above all, grab the phone and rat on your neighbor if come Saturday, junk still festoons his yard. Have fun!


Post a Comment

<< Home