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Cleaning up hits new level in Post Falls

by Brian Walker
| April 10, 2010 9:00 PM

POST FALLS - Pockets of Post Falls are pretty ... ugly. Citizens noted it when they completed a recent survey on what needs changed in the city. City officials and the police department have noted it for years, nudging alleged violators of unsightly conditions.

POST FALLS - Pockets of Post Falls are pretty ... ugly.

Citizens noted it when they completed a recent survey on what needs changed in the city.

City officials and the police department have noted it for years, nudging alleged violators of unsightly conditions.

But now the city is taking a proactive approach with a multi-faceted campaign to clean up the town with special free pickup days scheduled and adding teeth to nuisance ordinances.

In a letter to citizens sent with this week's water bill, the city said towing firms will haul off abandoned vehicles for free if they'll hand over the title or sign a release of interest.

"We obviously are trying to respond to the Citizen Survey results and have a plan of attack put together for addressing some of our more unsightly properties and behaviors that do not encourage pride in property ownership," City Administrator Eric Keck said. "We are also currently looking at enhancing our code to provide some teeth on ordinance enforcement that will truly clean up the town."

Police Chief Scot Haug said the campaign isn't meant to be a heavy-handed enforcement effort, but the city is trying to educate citizens and work with them on ways to reduce problems such as overgrown weeds, abandoned vehicles and unsightly conditions.

"In the past we've been reactive to those kinds of complaints, now we're transitioning very slowly to be more proactive," Haug said.

The city is also making a brochure on how citizens can do their part and offering free special pickup dates for certain items on April 17 and April 24. The city's ordinances are being reviewed and proposed changes will be brought to the City Council for a public hearing later this year.

"We realize some people financially may not be able to do something right away and we want to work with citizens on coming into compliance," Haug said. "We want to use enforcement as a last resort."

Ashleigh Schild, Post Falls' lone code enforcement officer, said the unsightly conditions are a problem, but that hasn't translated into many citations.

In the past month, she has dealt with about 40 complaints and cases, but hasn't written any citations during that time and only a few since last July. She said that most of the time issues are resolved after initial warnings, but realizes some problems may take longer.

Schild said six residents have already expressed an interest in the free vehicle removal program because they couldn't afford or have the ability to remove it.

"The big thing is to get in touch with us and explain your situation and that may avoid a ticket in the future," she said.

City officials do, however, want violators to make more of an effort to clean up their act.

"We're just trying to step things up a little bit," Haug said.

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