KINGMAN – It will not surprise the citizens of Kingman to know that the top issue, the one that results in the highest violation volume, for the City’s Neighborhood Services Division is junk, trash and debris.
Sgt. David Reif from the Kingman Police Department and Neighborhood Services Officer Sam Kurtze spoke to Council at its meeting Tuesday about challenges facing the division and how it plans to rise above them.
Junk, trash, and debris, account for about 38 percent of City Code violations. Excessive weeds follow at 28 percent, with abandoned, junk and inoperable vehicles coming in at 12 percent.
To combat these violations, one area of focus for neighborhood services is to remain consistent in its approach to code violations regardless of the neighborhood in which they occur. A key component of that is face-to-face interactions with citizens.
The Neighborhood Services Division has several different reporting avenues for violations including the City’s website, dispatch and Council- or self-initiated reports.
“However, those channels at times kind of get muddy because when they believe it to be a code enforcement or neighborhood services issue it goes to the wrong division and slows that process down,” Reif explained.
While an all-inclusive division, neighborhood services has divisions within itself each with the ability to enforce rules and regulations. Reif inquired as to if the City’s IT department could build a better reporting format to help channel reports to the right division within neighborhood services.
“We’re dealing with violations affecting the quality of life, and we need to be proactive in nature because if we’re not proactive a lot of crimes and all those issues are going to go unreported by the surrounding neighbors,” Reif said.
That proactive approach, the sergeant noted, helps to promote self-initiated activity and cleanups as opposed to complaint-driven activity.
Property owners have 30 days to correct a violation after hearing from neighborhood services. The case then goes to the City Attorney’s Office where it is reviewed for criminal charges (Class 1 misdemeanor).
Reif said if having to go through those channels, it can take up to six months to go through the court system. That’s another reason why voluntary compliance is so important.
Another hurdle for the City’s neighborhood services is the manner in which some people find loopholes around City Code.
“At this property, they’d get it cleaned up right at that 30-day mark, we’d waive, the next day someone would call (and) complain again that all the stuff was back out there,” Kurtze said.
The clock then starts fresh, with the property owner having another 30 days to correct the violation upon once again hearing from neighborhood services.
Councilwoman Vickie Kress asked if that means the cycle continues “with no resolution for the neighbors?”
“It could in theory,” Reif replied. “Hopefully not, hopefully they’re voluntarily compliant.”