When the yard police skip the hearing

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About that citation for "excessive" vegetation: The inspector didn't show up at the hearing, so the hearing officer declared it dismissed for lack of prosecution. Kind of a letdown, actually.
My neighbor across the street told me she had seen somebody photographing my furry front yard, (
http://cpacker.org/a1.jpg ) and I assume it was the inspector. Maybe they studied their prints and realized that it formed the right backdrop, after all, for the fake wooden mushrooms I had "planted" earlier this year (
http://cpacker.org/a2.jpg ).
-- snipped-for-privacy@cpacker.org (Charles Packer) ungoogled: mailboxATSIGNcpacker.org http://cpacker.org/whatnews
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I love those mushrooms. : )
Dena

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snipped-for-privacy@cpacker.org wrote:

Neat mushrooms! Too bad we folks who are not into manicured monoculture expanses of lawn can't band together....
--
Jean B.

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It's probably the "Devil Strip" that they were interested in.
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wrote:

Ah, but there is. There's a group started here in Wisconsin some 20-30 years ago dedicated to natural landscaping called The Wild Ones. In their earlier days they fought a lot of battles over their "messy" yards. Check them out. If there isn't a chapter in your area, you might consider starting one: http://www.for-wild.org/chapters.html .
Suzy O
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Your yard is gorgeous! I'm glad you didn't end up being fined for creating a little oasis in the city.
Jacqui

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snipped-for-privacy@cpacker.org wrote:

To my eye your "furry front yard" looks unkempt. Being that it yours I have no say in the matter.
--
John in the sand box of Marylands eastern shore.

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(Charles Packer)

I find it hard to tell from the picture. I can't tell if the vegetation is weeds or a groundcover. Also, there is no context. I see similar yards in the "old money" section of the city. These lots are planted with groundcovers like ivy, creeping phlox, vinca, etc. because it is too shady for grass and the slope is not safe for mowing. That said, they don't look unkempt with tall weeds growing in them nor are the edges spilling over the hardscape. I think that the strip near the street looks shaggy. I think it could be much better, and as a gardener, I would look at is as a lost opportunity. I guess it depends on how you approach life. Lots of people think of gardening and landscaping as a necessary evil, sort of like doing dishes, and would never consider doing more than the absolute minimum. It's funny though, how when people put their house on the market, they understand the impact that landscaping has on the home's value.
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Vox Humana wrote:

ungoogled: mailboxATSIGNcpacker.org http://cpacker.org/whatnews
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Just to let your know, LLBean and several other outdoor stores (EMS, REI, etc) are carrying "Buzz-Off" clothing that is treated with a natural substance derived from pyrethrins. Lasts through 25 washings and than you can spray it with the same stuff for 6 more weeks with each spray treatment. We used this on our vacation up to Vermont and it worked extremely well! I am bugged by bugs all the time, especially the biting type! Look for this clothing - this is not an ad, just something to help us poor gardeners who get bugged all the time!
--
gloria - only the iguanas know for sure



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snipped-for-privacy@cpacker.org wrote:

Where in the US do think there are no mosquitoes?
--

Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8
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probably arrest him too. My small neighborhood, compared to one of my next door neighbors, his yard looks highly manicured. Me, I like things a little wild, and would be out of place in some of the big suburban cemeteries like the big development near me. Frank
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Frank Logullo wrote:

Where I grew up, a traditional English cottage garden was viewed as being worse than a car up on blocks. Xeroscaping (although I didn't know anyone who even knew that term, if it even was invented yet) was also frowned upon. And don't even think of naturalizing crocus in a lawn. They might as well have been dandelions.
Many cities have noxious weed ordinances that they use to justify going onto inner-city vacant lots to mow them. The problem comes when the people who are enforcing the ordinances have no gardening, horticultural or botany experience. Anything taller than ankle high better have a flower they recognize, or have woody stems so they can call it a shrub.
Ornamental grass? To them, Kentucky Bluegrass is the only ornamental grass allowed, and it better be mowed. Ground cover? You mean Kentucky Bluegrass? Hollyhocks, lilies and gladiolus, if not in bloom, are far too tall, and must be weeds.
They'll write the ticket for anything. If the property owner mows it down, they were right. If the property owner doesn't respond, someone will mow it down for them. And if the property owner challenges, well, maybe then they'll send a qualified person out to check. Maybe. Maybe they'll just take a few pictures, and count on the judge not caring about anything other than how bad it looks in their poorly taken pictures.
Meanwhile down the street there will be people dumping chemicals on their lawn in such quantities that they're turning it into a future Superfund site who are allowed to continue to assault the environment, pollute the soil and ground water, and poison the neighborhood pets and children. If the only things they have that are higher than ankle-high are some foundation shrubs too close to the foundation of the house, they're okay.
On the other hand, I'm not thrilled with landscapes that make walking down the sidewalk an obstacle course. I don't like vegetation that blocks traffic signs. And I don't like tall shrubs so close to the corner that I have to pull out into traffic from the left just to see if there's any traffic from the right. When it comes down to these safety issues, I don't care if they're weeds, or expensive specimens.
All that said, I'm not sure I like what's in the picture. There's not enough context to tell if it looks good. But it doesn't appear to be a safety problem, and, as far as I can tell, isn't neglected. What must be the most frustrating about this is they apparently never clearly articulated what they thought the problem was.
"It violates the ordinance." "How?" "It just does." That's not a very satisfying exchange. And even though this ticket was dismissed, without knowing why it was written in the first place, it's not a victory. New tickets could be on their way, and unless they state how or why, there's no way to really address the what.
--
Warren H.

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Charles,
As I recall you were to receive the name of the complainant at least by the hearing. Have you spoken with the complainant yet and come to an understanding? Based on your pictures it does look as if many would find your "landscaping" to be a collection of weeds and your philosophy to be a rationalization. The sidewalk is a public area which you must maintain, yet it is also overgrown. I suspect you will be hearing from the yard police again. It is disappointing that you did not have your day in court since you are now in legal limbo.
Good luck, Dave M.
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David Martel wrote:

This is the same implication that I expected the inspector might make at the hearing, so I was prepared with a clarifying photo:
http://cpacker.org/a4.jpg
In any case, government never returned my phone call to find out who the complainant was, if any. And because they didn't appear at the hearing, I'm confident there was no complainant. Whatever else I may think of the Dept. of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs -- the D.C. govt. authority in question, I believe they wouldn't abandon a real complaint by a real citizen.
In fact, just this morning I think I figured out the true circumstances of the citation. Although the mystery has been intriguing to me, it may be boring for some readers -- they may move on to the next thread...
As I said, my neighbor was cited at the same time. But she got a different form of ticket, even though it was for the same code violation, section 800.10, basically for excessive vegetation over 10 inches tall. The one she got -- let's call it form A -- gives seven days to correct the condition or the city will do it itself and send a bill. There's no option to ask for a hearing, but there's an obscure paragraph on the back that says the citizen may appeal the citation in writing within the seven-day time limit. Brutal, eh?
The other form of citation -- let's call it B -- is the one I got. It is simply a $100 fine, but there is a clearly-stated option to request a hearing.
We both were cited in the same week. On the preceding Saturday I had noticed a crew mowing the dense growth from a small triangular park nearby. This was in May, after a wet spring. So it would seem that the city came out for seasonal cleanup and wrote citations on nearby property owners who appeared to need one themselves. In fact I remember trimming my sidewalk strip on the same weekend I saw the crew out there. Since I like to wait until the dandelions have gone to seed (they're wildflowers, you know) before my first mowing of the season, it's possible that the grass really was much taller than you see in the photo.
But why did my neighbor and I get different forms? And why was mine signed not only by a different person, but one who was not an inspector, actually, but the chief of inspectors?
As it happens, last year I got a citation for the same code violation, but on the form A. The circumstances of that citation are an even longer story that -- trust me -- has no bearing on this one -- except that I spoke to the chief then and made clear that if the city was going to cite me I expected to have the opportunity to get a hearing.
So now I think what happened this year is that the crew wrote form A citations on my neighbor and me. Then the chief intervened, writing a new citation for me himself on form B, attempting to do me a favor -- maybe even dating it incorrectly to make it fatally flawed. And if he wasn't on site, this would have come out at the hearing also.
In the end, this episode seems to be more about politics than law. Far from being in legal limbo, I'm confident that the city won't bother me again for a long time.
-- snipped-for-privacy@cpacker.org (Charles Packer) ungoogled: mailboxATSIGNcpacker.org http://cpacker.org/whatnews
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Charles,
So, if there was a complainant, you don't know what problems to address to satisfy him. You seem eager to believe that there is no complainant but in the absence of a complainant the ticket writer is the complainant. You need to figure out what is causing these complaints. I don't understand the point your pictures are intended to make. They show a poorly maintained side walk/right of way and a retaining wall that is leaning into the right of way. The vegetation above the retaining wall is not encroaching into the right of way but still this is not a picture you want to produce in court. This picture speaks of long term neglect. Since you've now received multiple tickets you should try to do what is necessary to prevent a city work crew from trimming your land at your expense. Perhaps you should get a landscaper in if you don't know what to do.
Dave M.
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David Martel wrote:

I hate to say it, but I agree. This yard looks virtually abandoned from the street level (picture a3). I much prefer the natural look, but this does not quite cut it. Natural is not the same as overgrown.
One quick task that will make the property look better it to remove the weeds at the base of the walls. The vines draped over the wall do soften the edges, but they are also drawing attention to the base weeds. These plants are probably contributing to the weakness in the retaining wall as well by breaking the bricks with their roots.
Next, selective thinning of the vines would be in order to make the upper parts of the garden look more tamed.
Lastly, changing the vegetation of the devil strip from grass to a low maintenance, low growing groundcover will leave little maintenance. Or, get a reel mower and make mowing a 5 minute ritual on the weekends.
-matt
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snipped-for-privacy@cpacker.org wrote:.

I've seen sidewalks narrow, and occasionally curve. But that curve as it narrows in the middle of a slab, with no difference in the apparent vintage of the concrete very much looks like it's not the pavement that narrows, but the vegetation that's overgrowing unevenly. There also appears to be a plethora of noxious weeds mixed in there, too.
This picture may put the rest into better context, but I'm afraid not in a favorable light for you. It also highlights the disrepair of the retaining wall. Lush vegetation, ala cottage garden, is one thing. But this last picture pretty much clears-up that this isn't lush vegetation, but an unmaintained and unmanaged yard.
The more you tell us, the more it's looking like you're not just an innocent victim with an alternative landscape plan, but someone who has let the weeds take over, and the retaining wall deteriorate. If you're going to bring in pictures to defend your yard care aesthetics, you could at least have swept-up the dead leaves, and pulled a few of the more obvious weeds before taking the pictures!
--
Warren H.

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Well I thought it looked nice.
-paggers
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Get your Paghat the Ratgirl T-Shirt here:
http://www.paghat.com/giftshop.html
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snipped-for-privacy@cpacker.org wrote:

After reviewing the pics the officer probably figured that retaining wall would be falling over in less than 6 mos anyway, and the overgrowth would take care of itself.
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