The city of Tucson is working to fight their ongoing illegal dumping problem. Neighborhoods throughout the city continue to find abandoned trash and furniture in alleyways and other public spaces. Thursday night, city officials and concerned residents gathered to discuss how the city's codes could be better enforced.
One of main concerns from residents was that not only is illegal dumping aesthetically unpleasing, but it's also a health and safety concern. The city of Mesa recently updated their code enforcement procedures. Since then, they've seen a significant improvement with compliance. They presented their new changes at the meeting to figure out what needs to be done differently here in Tucson.
Mesa code officials amped up their enforcement by decreasing the amount of time they waited until issuing violations and changing the way they handled the complaint process. By doing so, they found people reacted more quickly to the violation by cleaning up the trash or cutting the overgrown weeds. Before then, those issues would sometimes go months and even years without being addressed.
City councilmember Steve Kozachik says Tucson's current policies don't get results fast enough.
"We have so much process built in to what we do here locally that you never quite cross the finish line and hold the property owner or the property manager accountable. So, what we need to do is we need to find a way to cut to the chase, go from zero to sixty, say look, 'This is your stuff, if it's not your stuff, you're responsible for the property, you need to clean it up or you're gonna get fined,' and that's where we need to get quickly. mesa is doing it, we're not."
Just this week, the city of Tucson agreed to start contracting inmates to help clean up some of the trash in our neighborhoods. Councilmemenber Kozachik says although that will help, the process to enforce their codes still needs some work.