Code Enforcement And Fundamental Community Values

Emilie Mitcham is the mayor of Mountain View.

It is the policy of the Town to promote the health, safety, morals, convenience, order, prosperity and welfare of the present and future inhabitants of the Town and, therefore, the Town Council declares that every public nuisance shall be unlawful and shall be restrained, prevented, abated and enjoined.

–Mountain View Town Code 7.01.010

This section of the Town Code is the basis for enforcement when it comes to litter, overgrown weeds, and disruptive noises or harsh lights. In addition to nuisances such as these, the Town Code addresses trees and shrubs that obstruct sidewalks and/or views at intersections.

The Code also instructs the community to cut back dead tree branches that could fall and injure someone, trim dried vegetation that poses a fire hazard and repair dangerously deteriorated sidewalks that make it difficult to walk safely through town. Although fixing these items can make the town feel tidier, the most important issue in my opinion is the attention to safety. 

Nuisances negatively impact the quiet enjoyment of our homes. Overgrown vegetation obstructing the sidewalks and streets causes inconvenience, irritation, and potential danger. Addressing these issues together is a way for us to increase our community peace and sense of well-being, as well as property values.

I recognize we’re having some growing pains from the new code enforcement efforts in Mountain View, and I understand that the effort and expense to abate the nuisances can be difficult. It’s my impression that most of the community is in favor of these efforts. But I’ve also heard from community members who say they simply want to be left alone, and they are unhappy with the requirements. I’ve heard from others who say they don’t feel property owners should be responsible for some of these expenses. Others simply assert it should be a property owner’s right to decide what is on their own property, period.

Although I sympathize with those who wish to be left undisturbed, and who would like minimal municipal requirements, I would like to ask all of us to imagine a world in which we prioritize the maintenance of shared spaces and our individual properties.

In an urban environment, we live close together and share resources. Long, dry weeds feed fires, as do dead or dying trees. Raised or broken sidewalks trip people and can literally cause broken bones. Not to mention lawsuits.

When I say I believe in the value of community, this is partly what I mean: I believe in the value of investing in our safety and well-being as a community. Caring for our homes and shared spaces is a way of caring for ourselves and each other.

The Town Code is the practical application of the values we hold as a community. They include health, safety and prosperity. And, explicitly, not just ours but future Mountain View inhabitants as well.

Thank you to each of you who have been working with our town employees to repair sidewalks, address nuisances, and mitigate deferred maintenance issues throughout town. I have seen so much progress and I’m very encouraged by our recent improvements.

I’m also very proud of each of our employees. They contribute every day to the peace and prosperity in Mountain View. They help us have a town we can be proud of; a place of peace between neighbors and safety for us all.

Thank you for any feedback you wish to share, and for your patience with our new ambitious efforts. We’re all in this together.

Emilie Mitcham is the mayor of Mountain View.

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