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May 23, 2024 5:09 PM
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Mayor Phil Goode’s September Letter

Neighborhood Services:  Keeping Our City Clean and Safe

Keeping our City clean, safe and free of unsightly debris, litter and trash is an important objective of mine.  Every town and City has to address situations where private property falls into disarray and disrepair due to a variety of circumstances.   In the City of Prescott, the Neighborhood Services Division deals with a variety of code compliance issues related to private property maintenance and appearance.  Our Code Compliance inspectors handle issues including signs in City right of way, overgrown weeds and grass, and storage containers or RVs placed inappropriately on property.  Sometimes, they deal with dilapidated, and dangerously neglected vacant buildings.

Recently, City Council received an extensive overview of the City’s current code compliance regulations and enforcement procedures.  City Staff, including the City Manager, Community Development Director and staff provided an overview of the current process, then sought comment and policy direction from City Council.

Here are some facts we learned.  In the past fiscal year July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023, the City received 466 complaints, and opened 242 cases.  The majority of these complaints, about 80%, have to do with weeds and overgrowth in private yards. Once a violation is identified, staff contact the property owner to seek out voluntary compliance.  In many cases, this works.  In some rare cases, the City can take the property owner to court.  Only about 4% of cases go to court. A new procedure, approved by Council last  year, involves a City Hearing Officer, who can hear these cases, without adding caseload to our busy court system.  Staff members are working to hire a Hearing Officer and begin this new process.

Despite many efforts, there are some properties that have been neglected and vacant for years, posing a clear safety hazard.  In these cases, the building structure may be unsafe.   These are building code compliance matters which include structural failure, unsanitary conditions, and dilapidation. In some cases, a property may be posted as unsafe to occupy, and may be subject to condemnation.  In very rare cases, with Council Approval, a property may be ordered to be demolished for safety.  The City’s Building Safety Division deals with such building code compliance matters.

The City’s goal is to engage citizens in keeping their property clean and safe.  In some cases, the Neighborhood Services Division will work with neighborhoods to host clean up events, where neighbors and volunteers clean common areas and vacant properties to improve the overall neighborhood appearance.

The City Council and I will work closely with staff to improve consistency of education and enforcement of the codes that are already on the books, and we will look at updating and improving code language for the future.

To learn more about code compliance, review our current City code, and report a suspected violation, go to www.prescott-az.gov/business-development/planning/code-compliance/  or simply go to Prescott-az.gov and type Code Compliance in the search bar. Or call 928.777.1320

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2 Responses

  1. Glad to know that there are compliance and safety ordinances – both for commercial building and private residences.
    The laundry shown in the photo along with the 3 or 4-story, white building off Willis downtown are major eyesores and bring down the look of the City. Could they both be condemned and torn down? My understanding is that doing any rehab is too expensive and not worth the investment.

    Another thing the City might consider is, prior to approving new commercial construction, give incentives to those wanting to establish new commercial projects to purchase/lease the empty buildings on East Gurley…abandoned buildings bring down the look and value of the City. Keeping the “old west” tradition in buildings is imperative – be it new construction or rehab of older, empty buildings.

  2. The old laundry building should receive historic preservation status with grant money to get it up to code. It holds so many memories for so many long time Prescott residents. When my 40 year old daughter was born, I used their diaper service and the man would deliver the clean diapers and take away the used ones. More often than not- he wouldn’t charge me because he knew I was a struggling single parent. Going into the laundry was always an adventure as you never knew what “news” the lady behind the counter was going to talk about. I wish I could remember their names but they loved their customers, their community and their plants.

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