City focuses on junk ordinance enforcement

Police Department has streamlined the law pertaining to property cleanliness and has issued a brochure to raise awareness of the rules


by: JASON CHANEY - The police department is working with the occupants of the above home to clean up junk and debris on the property.

In many cases, when a Prineville resident lets their home become overrun with junk to the point that prompts neighbor complaints, they clean it up.

However, there are some home occupants who fail to clean up the mess and allow it to grow worse and worse over time.

To combat those situations and reduce the occurrence of future ones, the Prineville Police Department and City of Prineville planning staff have teamed up to improve junk ordinance enforcement and raise awareness of the laws that govern unsightly homes.

"In the past, we have relied heavily on the court process," said Police Captain Michael Boyd, "which is, as all court cases are, kind of slow. So this year, what we have done is we have really gone through the code and streamlined the process. The city is just at a point where the old days of saying I'm just going to heap garbage next to my house until I feel like taking it away, are going away."

City Senior Planner Josh Smith fields junk complaints from time to time and has found that most offenders willing to comply with the law.

"They clean it up or they move it to their backyard where they have fencing," he said.

With other local properties, the confrontations fail to make a difference. Several homes throughout the community remain shrouded with broken-down vehicles, home maintenance supplies, and garbage. Another property, just inside the east Y, is covered with heavy machinery and other large items.

"We have been trying to get that cleaned up forever," Smith said. "What do you do? We can't go in and just move that stuff. So, we are trying to be a little more proactive."

To that end, the police department has begun issuing brochures that provide information regarding the city's junk ordinance. They list common violations, including discarded trash, rubbish, and debris left in yards or public property; storage of junk outside or within a facility that is not wholly or entirely enclosed; vehicles parked on the street with flat tires or expired registration; and recreational vehicles, travel trailers, or boats parked on the street for longer than 72 hours.

The brochure goes on to warn residents that they could face a fine of up to $500 per occurrence for violating the ordinance, but Boyd said the police prefer to avoid that option if possible.

"Our goal is always just to have the person clean it up," he said. "As a final resolution, for one or two problem people, those people have to be held accountable. The rules are pretty clear as far as junk and rubbish go. They need to clean it up."

In closing, the new police literature highlights the merits of maintaining a clean and tidy property. For example, it states that it's easier to maintain than play catch-up, and yard maintenance raises property values.

"It's the little things that make the difference when driving through a neighborhood or city," the document says. "When property maintenance declines, it leads to the acceptance of litter, graffiti, crime, and other unwanted activities. Yard maintenance is one small step toward a safer community."




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