Talking trash is not what she does.
She sights trash, then cites the property owner to get the trash removed.
Today, the Gainesville city code enforcement officer was not happy.
She had just returned to her office after making the rounds and issuing citations to residents who, she said, can’t seem to keep their property clean and free of trash, junk cars, deflated swimming pools, broken down lawnmowers, and rubbish of all kinds.
“A poorly kept neighborhood affects the self-image of a community,” Leda Furrh, the city’s code enforcement officer said.
She wouldn’t give the exact number of citations she writes in any particular time period, but said she writes “a lot of them.”
She has a slide show of some of the worst looking parts of town, although she admits Gainesville has some beautiful neighborhoods. It’s the trashy places that disturb Furrh.
She also said residences should be properly identified with approved address numbers.
According to Furrh, the numbers are necessary for several reasons the most important of which is that properly marking homes can help EMT personnel, fire fighters and police officers locate residences in emergencies.
The 2000 International Property Maintenance Code, which Furrh said has been adopted by the city of Gainesville provides guidelines for structural safety and sanitation and weather-resistence. Ordinance 303.3 states, “Buildings shall have approved address numbers placed in a position to be plainly legible and visible from the street or road fronting the property...”
She said people thinking of moving to Gainesville base their opinions of the city upon what they see in its neighborhoods. If potential residents see trash and junk in yards, they might change their minds about moving to Gainesville — something Furrh would not like to hear about.
She also said crime and trashy neighborhoods go hand in hand.
“The safety and welfare of our community is important,” she said.
“If people see broken down lawnmowers, car parts, old swimming pools, garbage and trash in yards they might not want to move here,” she added.
Residents who live in disheveled conditions can be ticketed.
“Inadequate sanitation can have a significant impact on a community,” Furrh pointed out. “Where’s the morals of our city when we allow ourselves and our neighbors to live in such a way that could cause death or disease?” she asked.
City ordinances also require residents to keep their homes in safe and sanitary conditions.
For example, a home must be kept painted, weather-resistant and structurally sound.
Any outdoor buildings — tool sheds, work shops, garages — must be maintained in good repair.
No unlicensed and/or inoperable vehicles are allowed on resident’s property. According to a commentary section in the International Property Maintenance Code, inoperable vehicles are “unsightly, clutter the neighborhoods, provide a harborage for rodents and are an attractive nuisance for children.”
Furrh also added that residents should not park their vehicles in their yards.
Although she and the Council agree about that, it’s a sore point with several citizens.
Margaret Swofford wrote in a letter to the editor, “ (It’s a) crying shame that you work most of your life to buy a home (and) then the city comes along and tells you what you can do, or put, on your property.”
James Martin wrote, “... concerning the law requiring parking on an impervious surface, I have to ask myself, what planet do these people live on?”
“Leave a badly written law on the books as written, reply on different people’s “understanding of what someone is trying to do” to obey a law, and only enforce the law if somebody feels their sensibilities have been offended by a particular effort because they’re parked on an impervious surface?”
Although Furrh sees a lot of garbage in yards and homes in decay, Furrh has hope that if she keeps at it, most of the violators will eventually clean up their acts.
Talking trash is not what she does.