Lillian Boyd, Dana Point Times

Dana Point city staff is making some improvements on how employees will handle neglected, weed-infested yards and lots beginning next year.

Each year, the City of Dana Point’s Code Enforcement Division implements a weed abatement program to ensure that “noxious weeds” are removed from private property within the city in a timely manner, both for aesthetic and safety reasons. The program identifies about 250 properties that contain weeds due to lack of maintenance or upkeep.

On Tuesday, May 5, Dana Point City Council had directed staff to further review the weed abatement program for possible improvements.

Community Development Manager Jeff Rosaler told council on Tuesday, June 16, that about 99% of those identified property owners are compliant once notified of the upkeep requirement.

“With an interest in creating measurable outcomes, staff developed two performance metrics,” Rosaler said. “We’d like to decrease the amount of properties on the annual weed abatement list by 10% each year and decrease the overall costs of the program annually by 10%”

Dana Point looked at neighboring cities such as San Clemente that have set dates each year for weed abatement.

“I am surprised each year how many people call me and say, ‘Weed abatement? When do I have to do that by?’ ” Rosaler said. “They’ve had the property for 25 years;  they should know that each spring, close to summer, they need to remove the weeds from their property. But one thing we’ve never done is have a consistent calendar base.”

Rosaler added that the lack of a specific date is due to not quite knowing when the rainy season would hit, but providing a set deadline would help with consistency.

Similar to what takes place in San Clemente, in April of every year, the city of Dana Point will now mail each property owner of undeveloped property a notice of the annual weed abatement hearing, and an order to abate their property of weeds and debris no later than May 15. Per city code, the property needs to be cleared of weeds and debris, and kept in this manner throughout the year

Each year, the list of properties not in compliance with city codes related to property maintenance and noxious weeds is similar to years prior, according to staff. By actively enforcing city codes throughout the year through normal code enforcement procedures, the number of properties identified to be a part of the weed abatement program will be reduced, Rosaler said.

Normal code enforcement procedures consist of a written notice of violation, a second enforcement letter, and then escalating citations until the violation is resolved.

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