El Centro is giving fines to several business owners for weeds and/or dead brush on their properties. How can the city fine a business for weeds and brush on their lots or properties when the city can’t take care of the weeds on its own lots? For example, the parkways on Broadway Street in El Centro between Fourth and Eighth streets are full of weeds and brush. The pump and lift station on Third and Broadway. On Dogwood in front of Carino’s Italian Restaurant there is a salt cedar growing and not being removed. It is my understanding that all parkways are the city’s responsibility. I think the city should start keeping its own areas clean before it starts fining local businesses. — Concerned Business Owner, El Centro
We spoke with chief building official and code enforcement officer Bob Williams. He told us the city has been in the process of issuing fines to business owners who don’t clean up their properties.
Off-hand, he said he could not remember whether there were any recent cases of an actual fine. Rather, he said he knows of businesses going through the administrative process to clean up their sites, which include notices, periods of allowing for mitigation and eventually issuing a fine.
Williams referred us to a bakery on Fourth Street where the property behind it is full of debris and weeds that need cleaning. The city has begun the process of trying to get that cleaned up.
As for the city, Williams agrees the city needs to be the example and held to a higher standard. When we listed off the locations in question, he referred us to public works to see whether these were business responsibility or city responsibility.
One thing worth noting from the letter, Williams said, is not all easements and parkways are the responsibility of the city. Residential parkways, for example, are a right of way of the city but the maintenance responsibility of the homeowner. That same holds true for some businesses.
That said, the areas in the letter are city responsibilities. Public Works Director Terry Hagen sent out staff to check the areas and come back to him with a report Wednesday afternoon.
The parkways along Broadway are mostly in front of vacant lots, a city parking lot and are weeds and mostly grass coming through cracks in the gutter and street. The city will clean those by May 11.
The pump and lift station is at Third and Commercial, not Third and Broadway. There is grass and oleanders growing through the fence. Those will be trimmed back today.
The third location is more complicated, Hagen said. “Dogwood is more difficult to deal with because there is an underground IID canal, high-pressure gas main and city water lines all located within the area where the weeds and trees were noted. We will coordinate with the IID and Gas Co. to clean the parkway from Danenberg to the south entrance of the mall. This should be complete by the end of May,” Hagen said.
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