Weeds, weeds, weeds. Eyesore, nuisance and fire hazard

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) On their walks around their central Reno neighborhood, Ginger Manna and her dog, Lacy, pass by a contrast left by our wet winter--well-kept yards next to weed-choked properties.

"Weeds, trees, flowers, everything is growing and spreading fast, more weeds than normal."

Cheat grass, tumble mustard and fox tail. Sometimes Lacy carries some of this home.

"Well, she picks up the foxtails," says Manna," and there's another little weed. I don't know what it's called. It just sticks to her. But she's learned when I say 'Bad weeds' we just walk around."

This is one of Reno's older neighborhoods--shady streets, well-maintained brick bungalows--but the problem is hardly unique. Take a walk or drive down a street most anywhere in the city and you'll see overgrown front yards, empty lots given over to weeds.

Some homes appear to have been empty for some time, but others show neglect by current residents. It's more than an eyesore.

"If somebody throws a cigarette or a cigar or a match, there's so much that could burn here," says Manna. "It would just spread, I think, like wildfire."

And it's a violation of city codes. Complaints about weedy front yards are keeping code enforcement officers busy these days.

"I think to date the highest we've received is 31 calls in one day," says the city's Code Enforcement Manager, Alex Woodley.

Some of these homes are rentals. Tenants may not be living up to agreements to maintain the property. It turns out that doesn't matter.

Regardless of whatever agreements there may be between tenant and landlord, the city is very clear about who they hold responsible.

"Tenants come and go," says Woodley. "It's the property owner who is ultimately responsible. So, that's who we deal with primarily, the property owner."

Woodley's office is mostly concerned with front yards .A visible weed-choked front yard is considered a nuisance.

Back yards usually don't prompt their involvement, except when they rise to the level of a fire hazard. That could bring the Fire Department into the case.

A complaint prompts a courtesy notice.. Woodley says about two thirds of the time that brings action. Escalating penalties await those who don't respond.

"If necessary we will move forward with other, more stronger enforcement actions, whether it's a misdemeanor citation or an abatement where we go in and remove the weeds and charge the property owner for it."

Complaints to Code Enforcement should be phoned into Reno Direct, 334-INFO (334-4636)

They need specific addresses and Woodley says those worried about starting neighborhood conflicts should know, they can remain anonymous and, if you do leave your name, city policy is that information is never shared.