Mesa decides anti-blight rules need a clean-up - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Mesa decides anti-blight rules need a clean-up

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Posted: Monday, May 28, 2012 8:25 am | Updated: 9:24 am, Thu May 31, 2012.

A Mesa resident can park a hulking boat at the side of his home without shielding it, but the city says the neighbor next door with an equally massive recreational vehicle has to screen it from view.

These rules have boat and RV owners — along with the City Council — scratching their heads as they try to make sense of Mesa’s anti-blight ordinance.

Mesa is trying to simplify its nuisance regulations in light of conflicts like this that are the result of the city changing its blight rules a year ago. The different regulations for watercraft and RVs is one of the more glaring problems.

Mayor Scott Smith said there are likely thousands of cases involving unscreened watercraft, adding it’s “inexplicable” that the rules aren’t the same for RVs.

“Common sense would say that is an inconsistency,” Smith said. “I don’t know where to draw the line.”

Elected officials weren’t sure if the requirement to cover RVs should be extended to watercraft, or repealed.

Councilman Dave Richins, who has an unscreened boat at the side of his house, said the city shouldn’t micromanage every neighborhood with screening regulations. People who don’t want to see RVs or boats should live in HOAs where those things are prohibited, he said.

“I’m very concerned about encroaching too far, onto becoming a giant City of Mesa HOA,” Richins said.

The City Council didn’t make a decision after discussing the issue Thursday, but asked city staff to research policies in other cities.

Mesa is working to clean up other parts of its blight ordinance. The rules are sometimes unclear now but will be rewritten in bullet points so code enforcement officers and the public have an easier time determining what the rules are, said Laura Hyneman, deputy director of development and sustainability.

“We think that’s going to be easier for people to understand,” Hyneman said.

The city is also refining rules for how far back trees must be trimmed from sidewalks and streets. And it’s expanding the definition of blight to include damage to a building’s structural integrity, overgrown landscaping and dead or dying plants.

Mesa will expand the definition of a garage sale, which a resident can have only four times a year. Some residents used the term yard sale or carport sale to skirt regulation, Hyneman said.

“We’re finding as people get cited for this, we need to clearly define what a garage sale is,” she said.

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