Throughout Ann Arbor, old newspapers sit on doorsteps, garbage cans overflow and animals rummage through the remnants of daily life. But a new city ordinance will attempt to clean up unsightly messes at the owners’ expense.
Starting April 15, the Clean Community Initiative will allow city officials to issue notices to residents, ordering them to clean up littered yards and sidewalks. The resident will then have 24 to 48 hours to have the trash removed, and if it is not, a fine will be sent to the property owners.
Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje said he recently removed a hide-a-bed and washing machine from his basement and called the city to have it removed at a cost of $30. But if he had not called and a neighbor complained, the city would have taken it free from charge. Under the new system, he would receive a fine.
“We are trying to be more proactive so that … we can get more compliance from property owners,” Hieftje said.
He said the program is not aimed at students, but the city receives complaints from people throughout the city.
“I talk to a lot of people who live in areas where they don’t want to see trash either,” Hieftje said.
LSA senior Reisha Goldman said she finds the trash in her neighborhood repulsive and would like to see it cleaned up, but said she does not think it is the fault of students.
“Sometimes bins get stolen, so the trash is just sitting out. If it is not in a bin, the squirrels get into it,” she said.
Last year the city spent $35,000 in free clean-up services, and Hieftje said he would like to recoup some of that money. That is what concerns Jim Morris, legislative council member at the Washtenaw Area Apartment Association.
“We are concerned that this is another way to get more revenue from students,” Morris said.
“We should focus on picking up trash and not on asking who can we charge for everything.”
Morris believes that students already pay more into the Ann Arbor community through taxes.
“The most offensive thing they say is that students don’t carry their load and are a burden on spring cleanup,” Morris said.
The city will also limit its free clean-up service to only two weeks during student-move-in and move-out.