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Drew: Why ungroomed yards are a community safety hazard

By Samuetta Hill Drew

This is the time of year many begin their spring cleaning around their homes, both inside and out. Actually, a tidy or untidy home, whether it’s inside or outside, gives you a major glimpse into the homeowner’s personality without ever meeting them. It tells you about their value system, their thoughts about themselves and others, as well as if they live an organized or chaotic life. Yes, one’s yard is a wonderful indicator into their mindset because a person’s home is an extension of who they are.

For this week’s article we’re going to focus on those homeowners or renters who don’t keep up their yards and how it becomes a safety hazard to the entire community. Yard safety doesn’t mean you have to win a beautification award, it simply means you keep a tidy yard. A tidy yard means it’s mowed regularly as needed, hedges trimmed and free of unwanted trash. Tall unmowed grass hides all types of unwanted pests like mice, snakes, etc., which can travel into a neighbor’s home or yard. Tall uncut shrubbery becomes a great hiding place for thieves.

In May of 2010, the City of Birmingham passed an ordinance banning people from parking their cars in the front yard.  The bill was sponsored by then Councilor Johnathan Austin. He remarked at the time, “No one wants to live next to a parking lot. So, what we’ve done is listened to our residents who are crying out for help.” The police can fine you $50 for parking illegally on your yard. As a neighbor, if this is a problem for your community, you should report it.

Illegally dumping trash in prohibited areas like one’s yard is also banned by the city for obvious health reasons. It does not matter whether you own your property or not. Spring cleaning does not mean cleaning the inside but illegally dumping unwanted household items outside. Usually unlawful trash consists of broken furniture, construction waste, old cars, auto parts, used tires, stakes of old wood, yard trash, and other unwanted household items. These items find a home in backyards throughout the city or on someone’s curb. Broken glass, exposed metal, and other dangerous materials are hazardous to children playing and others in the community. Rats, snakes, mosquitoes, and other pests are attracted to and populate within these dumped trash items. There is a legal dump site a citizen can pay to use; the problem is citizens don’t want to pay or transport these items. They would rather illegally dump the trash on the curb because of convenience and cost, thus causing a safety hazard for their community. Remember the City of Birmingham has a number, 311, to report these infractions.

Keeping an Eye on Yard Safety is great for the entire community and the city as a whole. It improves property values and helps beautify the city’s neighborhoods. Please be encouraged to practice yard safety this spring and throughout the entire year. You will be a happier, more organized person for it!

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