Albany's municipal code requires that lawns not grow above 10 inches high, encroach on neighboring property, block vision at intersections or create a fire hazard. This year, the city says it’s seen an increase in violations which come with a fine of up to $1,000.
According to Code Compliance Officer Kris Schendel, between April 22 and June 17, 120 homes have garnered citations. Last year during the same time period, there were 80 violators.
“This year, I think it’s mainly from the rain and the heat,” Schendel said. “With longer, colder winters, we don’t see it as much, it’s not that bad.”
Communications Officer Marilyn Smith said the city receives calls or emails about tall grass every day. The issue has especially become a hot topic as fire season starts.
Schendel said about 30% of the violators are outside city limits and include large fields. Inside city limits, most violations occur in vacant lots.
“It’s not just that empty lot,” he said. “It’s the 10 houses around it that can go up (in a fire).”
The city does not have a specific program to aid homeowners who are unable to cut their lawn but Schendel said help still is available.
“We have a volunteer coordinator in the Parks and Recreation Department,” he said. “When I come across someone who is elderly or not physically able to do it I hook them up with the volunteer coordinator and we reach a solution.”
Properties in violation of the municipal code receive a citation with a deadline to comply. If homeowners meet the deadline, the city sends a request to the Municipal Court to dismiss the charges. It not, the fine can reach up to $1,000.
“The whole goal is compliance,” Schendel said. “It’s not the punishment that goes along with the compliance.”