Trash complaints increased dramatically in 2014 compared to previous years, according to the Kent Health Department‘s records.
The projected number of complaints in 2014 is 315, an 18 percent increase from last year’s.
Trash-related complaints were 266 in 2013, 118 in 2012 and 141 in 2011.
Public Health Sanitarian Kyle Kelly said the Kent Health Department has noticed the trend regarding the increased trash violations.
The department has spent about 882 hours enforcing the local trash ordinance last year, but non-compliance remains frequent, he said.
“Complying with the local trash ordinance needs to be a priority for all owners and occupants,” Kelly said. “Many local residents are tired of neighbors that do not comply.”
He said that violations create a “constant eye-sore” throughout the community and can lead to health and safety concerns under certain circumstances.
The Kent Health Department plans to propose revisions to the local trash ordinance to the Kent City Council this month, Kelly said.
If the Kent City Council approves the proposal, revisions will include more monetary penalties to violators of the ordinances.
“This will encourage local residents to comply with the trash ordinances or risk additional penalties,” Kelly said.
According to the Kent Health Department, the most common violations include excessive loose litter along lawns, tree lawns and porches. Improper storage containers are also used to store waste.
Other complaints involve discarded furniture and trash placed along the tree lawn for days before removal, and empty trash cans that sit along the tree lawn for days after removal.
(Map shows 2014 trash violations as recorded by the Kent Health Department)
The Kent Health Department’s data showed that 92 percent of all documented trash violations involve rental properties, Kelly said.
“We believe that most owner-occupied properties take more pride in the appearance of their home compared to rental properties,” Kelly said. “Some rental properties do not have owners or occupants that make trash compliance a priority and we are continually working with those owners to make solid waste a priority.”
Patty McNerney, community manager at The Province, said that the administrators make trash compliance a priority.
“We have standards in place for our residents to make it easy for them to take out their cans and return them each week,” McNerney said. “We have a process to help residents keep up with the City of Kent pick up schedule for Lincoln Street. We also have dedicated team members that walk our property several times a day, and one of their duties is to monitor litter to help keep it to a minimum.”
According to the Kent Health Department’s records, Lincoln Street is where most complaints came from in 2014.
“[The Province] doesn’t have a record of any violations, but we also work very hard to keep our grounds as clean as possible,” McNerney said. “I think the areas closer to the intersection of Lincoln and Summit Street, is a much more challenging area for the city.”
Abatement Costs Explained
First Offense: For the first time in any 12 month period that a real property owner does not clean up garbage in a timely manner after having been properly notified to do so in violation of Section 521.08 of the Kent
Codified Ordinances, a fine of $50.00 will be imposed upon the real property owner. The property owner shall be sent a notice by the City of Kent Health Department Commissioner which explains the amount of the fine, why the fine is being imposed, and that the fine needs to be paid within thirty (30) days of the date of the notice. In addition, any monies paid by the City to have the garbage cleaned up will be included in the abatement costs.
Second Offense: For a second violation of Section 521.08 of the Kent Codified Ordinances within any twelve (12) month period, which is not cleaned up in a timely manner after proper notice, the real property owners will be fined $150.00 plus any additional abatement costs paid by the City. A letter will be sent to said property owner containing the same information as is required in Section 521.08.
Third Offense: For a third or additional violation of Section 521.08 of the Kent Codified Ordinances within a 12 month period, which is not cleaned up in a timely manner after proper notice, the real property owner will be fined $250.00 plus any additional abatement costs paid by the City. A letter will be sent to said property owner containing the information as is required in Section 521.08.
Information was retrieved from Section 521.08 of the Kent City Ordinances
When the Kent Health Department receives a trash-related complaint, Kelly said the department usually responds on the same business day.
The health department investigates the property and photographs potential trash violations, he said.
“Every effort is made to contact the owner and occupant of the property where the violation exists, notifying them to abate the nuisance within 48 hours,” Kelly said. “Currently, owners and occupants are permitted 48 hours to comply with potential trash violations.”
According to Section 521.08 of the codified ordinances of the City of Kent, “ a fine and abatement costs may be imposed upon real property owners who have failed to clean up their properties in a timely manner after having been notified to do so.”
First time offenders will have to pay a fine of $50, second time offenders face a fine of $150 and third or additional offenders will be fined $250 plus any additional abatement costs paid by the City.