Akron scrambling to keep up with hundreds of tall grass and weed complaints in neighborhoods

AKRON, Ohio - Richard Stevens owns a rental property on East Long Street in Akron. "Long" could easily describe the condition of the lawns surrounding his house.

Ugly, tall grass and weeds stand out in front of vacant houses to his right, his left and another directly across the street.

"If I got somebody interested in buying the property and if they come here and see this, they get disgusted and it kind of changes their mind," Stevens said.

John Valle, the director of neighborhood assistance for the city of Akron, said the city has received nearly 2,000 high grass and weed complaints in recent months-- much higher than an average spring. Currently, about 900 customer service requests remain open.

"We had an enormous amount of rain during the month of April and the early part of May, and then all of a sudden overnight, we started to get a little bit of sunshine and a little bit of warm. Now, things are just growing and it's out of control right now," Valle said.

He explained it's the city's responsibility to enforce the nuisance code related to tall grass, if complaints are filed. The city is also expected to maintain the yards of 1,400 vacant houses owned by Akron.

Valle say the city has been working on a plan over the last seven to ten days to be "more aggressive" in getting to complaints.

"We're trying to come up with more staffing, borrowing equipment from some other departments, borrowing personnel from other departments."

City inspectors respond to neighborhoods after being alerted to unkempt yards and homeowners could receive a warning notification.

"They have five to seven days to make the cut. If they don't, we have to send that inspector back out there," Valle said.

If the city is forced to use one of five contractors to cut the grass, the property owner will receive a $220 bill. If that's not paid, the money will be added to their property taxes at the end of the year.

Stevens hopes the city brings lawn mowers to East Long Street soon.

"It's a blight to the neighborhood, not only to my house, the entire neighborhood."

Valle said residents concerned about tall grass and weeds in their neighborhood should call 311 to file a complaint.

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