Trash cop cleaning up Kingman

The cleanup of a private property this week in Kingman was just the third in the year since the city hired a full time abatement officer.

"One of my greatest fears was the number of forced abatements that the new officer could bring before the council," Councilman Phil Moon said.

"I thought we could be overwhelmed at council meetings."

Instead, complaints have been resolved through cooperation between the city and the property owners.

Code enforcement officer Carl Allen said he considers the issuing of citations and going through the full abatement process as "last resort action." In the first year with a full time abatement officer working out of the Kingman Police Department, more than 90 percent of complaints have been resolved without writing a citation.

"My objective, and the city goal, is to get the complaint solved with the property owner cooperating with the city," Allen said.

"Most people are willing to cooperate when given a chance to clean up the property, cut the weeds or remove inoperative vehicles."

Abatement happens when the city takes steps to enforce city zoning and codes because a property owner will not cooperate in correcting the violation.

Abatement actions such as the cleanup this week usually come when a property is left vacant and the owner does not have funds to clean up.

In this case, the property owner did not appeal the abatement.

The $6,500 cost will be placed as a lien on the property and collected like taxes when it is sold.

The city has the option of working with a buyer to get new and improved development in the area.

"The whole purpose of the ordinances we enforce under the cleanup rules that lead to abatement procedures is to improve quality of life in the community and preserve property values," Allen said.

Property cleanup is primarily in response to citizen complaints with Allen responding to calls.

The city does not target properties or areas of the city for code enforcement.

Allen works with the Clean City Commission when the CCC selects any area for its yearly spring and fall cleanup weekends.

Sanitation Superintendent Ed Tapia works with the CCC at the same time with reduced- cost trash pickups in half the city in the fall and the remainder in the spring.

When Allen finds property owners in the city who cannot pay the cost of removing junk vehicles, he asks the city for assistance.

With the cooperation of local towing companies and the city budget, some vehicles are removed after property owners show they cannot pay for them.

"This is not a free ride for anyone, but shows the cooperative attitude of the city," Allen said.

Moon said Monday that the areas where cleanups have happened, property is more likely to be sold and redeveloped.

"That is the goal," he said.

"The city council has shown a cooperative attitude in working with developers and property owners.

I would love to see more new housing built downtown."