Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

October 25, 2013

More learned about not junking it up

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat — What started out for one man as a request at Tuesday’s city council meeting to improve the rules of keeping Pauls Valley clean instead became a moment of education and a discussion on how to better utilize them.

In fact, it wasn’t only PV Beatification Board Member Jeff Hopkins who was able to take away a lesson from a topic of how to deal with junk cars in town, but each of those leading the meeting at city hall.

Much of it dealt with explaining how a city nuisance ordinance, largely written back in the early 1990s by City Attorney Jay Carlton, has the methods in place to not only help deal with the problem, but in a manner that is as fair as possible for all parties involved.

“We did not want to get bogged down in an automatic thing so the council does not have to mess with it all the time,” said Carlton. “It does need to function right, we do have a good process on paper… I wrote all of this so I’m familiar with it.”

What led to confusion for those like Hopkins in the past dealt with an assumption that the Beautification committee did not have enough power to take action that would lead to real consequences.

He noted frustration on one particular example where a partially dismantled car sits in a fenced in yard with tags that expired more than a couple of years ago and was tired of issues like these not being taken care of.

“We’ve got a bunch of them in town, there’s a bunch of them laying around” said Hopkins, adding how one of the things that could reinforce an issue like this is taking into account neighbor complaints.

“I’ve seen residential areas that look like salvage yards.”

Helping to clarify to council members how the process works, City Manager James Frizell noted that while the committee cannot write tickets or issue orders to have a car towed away, they can begin the first steps toward getting something unsightly resolved.

Though Hopkins suggested something stricter like rules the City of Norman uses, one of the first things he can do with the existing rules is to ask an individual through a summons from the city’s code enforcement department to appear at a city beautification meeting.

They can either accept a request to move the vehicle or explain why has been left in said state.

However, Carlton also noted how this is not to say any vehicle they wish applies for being declared a nuisance and certain items like keeping a license plate/tags updated and condition of a car must be neglected to qualify.

If a person does not answer the summons, it can then be sent to the council where the same property owner has another chance to plead their case before a decision is made on what happens in the case of neglect.

“They can’t actually write tickets, but they can abate something,” said Frizell. “They can bring a person before the committee to determine if it goes before city council.”

Ultimately no decision to change the ordinance was made as leadership decided the appropriate checks and balances are in place and Frizell added how unfortunately that when dealing with the worst offenders, no amount of rule changes will remove the behavior.

Carlton agreed with the sentiment that these cases have a lot of factors to consider, even limited resources via the city’s annual budget and the case by case basis can’t completely do away with the problem each time around.

“It will continue, those worse offenders will still offend,” said Frizell. “That’s part of the problem.”