Messes on the mind: Residents voice concerns about unkempt yards, noise to council

Published 6:31 pm Saturday, June 15, 2013

The weather is fitting for spring cleaning, and Austin residents have it on the mind.

At a Saturday morning Conversations with the Council, a dozen residents sat down in the Austin Public Library meeting room to discuss their concerns with Austin City Council members Janet Anderson, Roger Boughton, Judy Enright and Michael Jordahl. Chief among them was the issue of unkempt properties.

Austin resident Valeria Meloney said homes with poorly kept yards affect the value of surrounding homes and may dissuade new businesses from opening shop in Austin.

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“Why should we put up with people like that?” she said.

She suggested the council members each encourage residents in each ward and precinct to identify problematic yards so the city can address them.

“I think you’re right,” Enright said. “It’s every citizen’s job to clean up the neighborhood.”

Other attendees agreed, showing concern for unkempt, vacant properties in town that rental managers living outside of Austin neglect to care for. Overgrown grass, garages full of junk and scattered, abandoned possessions were common concerns.

Along similar lines, Bob and Peg Clark said noise issues were common near their home on the north side of town and reporting their problems to the police had yielded few results.

Anderson said it can be hard for police to deal with noise issues if the source of the disruption ceases. For example, a barking dog may stop making noise before an officer arrives.

“It becomes a difficult situation to figure out how to deal with,” Anderson said.

Attendees also asked that the Herald run contact information for elected officials on a regular basis. Anderson suggested the city could print a flier to be distributed at public buildings like City Hall and the Austin Public Library.

Several, including Dustin and Jean DeBoer, expressed concern about bike safety. They said Austin residents often rode on the wrong side of the street, and suggested the city find ways to educate riders when they purchase a bike.

Anderson and Enright agreed.

“We want people to be safe out there,” Anderson said.

Enright said the city may be able to resume requiring bicycle licenses, and if so, could distribute literature on bike safety when residents get their licenses.