La Puente : Property Maintenance Law

A proposed law that would allow officials to get tougher on owners of unsightly houses and businesses will be fine-tuned before the City Council votes on it next month.

For more than a year, officials say, residents have complained about unkempt property in their neighborhoods. Common complaints include cars parked on front lawns, washers and tires strewn across front yards, and overgrown vegetation, which can attract rats and other vermin.

La Puente council members Tuesday night directed city staff to iron out several aspects of the proposed Property Maintenance Ordinance. For instance, city officials want to prohibit parking on the front lawns of homes but they may allow some front-yard parking on paved surfaces because parking is scarce on some old, narrow properties.

The ordinance was drafted to develop a citywide standard for residential and commercial properties. It will also give the city's soon-to-be-hired code enforcement officer ways to force property owners to clean up their messes.

Offenders will be required to pay for the cleanup or face a lien--equal to the amount the city spends to do the work itself--against their property.

The ordinance is designed to bolster community pride and ensure that property values will not plummet in neighborhoods marred by an unkempt home or business, Rick Hartmann, the city's community development director, said.

He said the council, which has had two public hearings on the matter, probably will vote on an ordinance April 13.

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