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By Presidio City Administrator Joe Portillo

On Wednesday, February 13th the Presidio City Council passed Ordinance No. 2019-03 regarding “Public Nuisances.” The ordinance repeals a previous version that was passed in 1992, but this version is much more detailed and defines things, such as junk, weeds, and unsightly matter. You can begin to surmise from these definitions that we are talking about health and sanitation. How they are a safety issue creating a fire hazard, or a welfare issue like breeding grounds for mosquitos or a place for snakes and rats to thrive. They also tend to be an “eyesore” and reduce the value of property. Not only your property’s value, but your neighbors!

The ordinance also clarifies “who is responsible?” Well, of course it is the Owner….right? We don’t take anything for granted, so we defined Owner as “Any person owning an interest in a lot, or any person leasing, occupying, or having supervision or control of a lot.” You may be leasing a house or a business, but the law allows us the freedom to decide as a city who is ultimately responsible for its care. This brings up another defined word, lot. Lot: “Land within the property lines and all areas of public right of way adjacent to and extending beyond the property line of said lot to the curb line of the adjacent street, where a curb line has been established or the edge of the pavement, where no curb line has been established and to the center of adjacent alleys.” Let me further explain and give an example: There have been numerous times we have been asked “Why doesn’t the city cut the high grass in the alleys?” It is the responsibility of the owner and he shares that responsibility with his neighbor. Up to the center of the alley, they share that responsibility. The city will maintain the alley road and service the dumpsters, but we all have to do our part. There are many homes that have a clearly defined fence around their home and they maintain that portion very well, but don’t maintain from the fence to the road. Again, this is the owners’ responsibility. Even though the city has a right of way to say repair a water line, the lot belongs to the owner, just like a right of way is afforded to other utility companies like the telephone, cable, and power companies.

Another big change in this ordinance is that the City of Presidio Police Department will be responsible for enforcing this law. They can receive a complaint from a citizen, another city employee, or can also serve as the complainant themselves. The ordinance stipulates each action to be taken in a certain sequence from violation, notification, duty to remedy including a timeframe and/or unfortunately, an appearance before the municipal court. Fines can be up to $200.00 and each day constitutes a separate and distinct violation. Administrative fees for abatements will be $125.00 dollars with an additional fee of $75.00 to file the lien on the property with the County Clerk’s office. Although we hope that it would not come to this, the police department will also have the authority to force the city to abate (eliminate, remove, rehabilitate) in cases where an owner does not reply to a notification or cannot be found. In these extreme situations, a lien may then be placed on the property.

Our desire is for compliance with the ordinance, and initially, warnings will be handed out. Unfortunately warnings don’t always work and in these cases citations will be handed out. We invite you to come to City Hall to read the ordinance in its entirety, or you can also download a copy from the city’s website. If you are a landscaper or have a business clearing lots we invite you to come by City Hall and register with us. This list will be provided to customers at their request. If you have a specific question or comment regarding the ordinance or would like us to address a certain topic, please come by and visit us at city hall or email us at ci[email protected]

Thank you and we appreciate you helping beautify Presidio.