Red Phone: Weeds, weeds, weeds

We have a big weed problem next door. No one cleaned it up last year. We do not know who owns the property. If someone throws a match, the whole block could go. We don’t know how to get in touch with anyone. I wish we could have someone look into this for us. The property is on the 300 block of Gurries Drive. I’m really worried about it.
 

 
 

Red Phone has good news for you, good caller, assuming things work the way they should. Red Phone contacted Gilroy’s fire marshall, Jackie Bretschneider, who has provided information about this property and what is being done to resolve the problem.

Bretschneider said, “The property was added to the city’s Weed Abatement Site list. The property owner has been notified. If the weeds have not been abated by May 15 the county will have them abated and assess the fees on the property tax assessment.”

Red Phone asked if the city had inspectors that routinely look for properties that need maintenance.

Bretschneider said, “The city contracts with the Santa Clara County Vegetation Management Agency to conduct weed abatement surveys for Gilroy. Every January the City Council adopts a resolution declaring weeds a nuisance, and in March a public hearing is held to officially notify property owners that they are subject to county fees and abatement if they do not abate their weeds by May 15.

“If the property is still not abated by this date, a contractor will abate the weeds. Most properties on the list are undeveloped. 

“For developed lots the City can send a notice and a citation to the property owner who has weeds that are blight or a fire hazard. These are primarily complaint-driven.”

Asked if there were any city laws governing the appearance or safety of privately owned properties, Bretschneider said, “The city’s residential blight code does not identify weeds and/or unkempt vegetation on residential property as blight. Only if the vegetation is a fire hazard can the city require abatement of the hazard. Being a fire hazard does require a higher threshold than blight. Fire Prevention and/or the Fire Department will evaluate a fire hazard complaint and determine if it is a fire hazard or blight and what the allowable enforcement solution is.”

If you have a complaint about a possible violation of city code concerning a fire hazard, Bretschneider suggests calling Community Development Office at (408) 846-0451, or emailing her through the city’s web page, which is preferred.
So, good caller, your problem with the neighbor with the tall weeds may go away if that neighbor follows through with the abatement program. But, if not, you know who to call.

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