The weed list shrunk. Last week, Saratoga City Council approved amendments to the Weed Abatement Program, a move that included rooting out properties incorrectly listed as noncompliant that caused an uproar at a January hearing.
The revised program defines a 2017 schedule for compliance, a plan to adopt the new process going forward and the funds to cover all property inspections starting May 1. Offsetting the cost of inspections for property owners who requested an extension reverses a practice that cost them $60.
“We’ve heard a lot of concerns during these last two meetings about the present program,” Mayor Emily Lo said. “We have taken measures to address those concerns and to clear up any confusion.”
The program revisions were prompted by the objections of owners of some of the 119 properties listed as noncompliant at the council’s Jan. 18 hearing. According to city staff, those concerns were assessed by program inspectors who reviewed each property on the list, reducing the total to 57 properties. Further details brought the noncompliant list down to 56.
City staff told The Saratoga News that owners of all properties that are compliant by May 1 will pay no fees and will not be subject to a nuisance declaration. Those who request an extension before May 1 will not pay inspection fees. Property owners who are subsequently noncompliant will be billed for fees associated with the program, including inspections.
“The County Weed Abatement Program is one of the primary tools Saratoga uses to minimize the threat of wildfire,” Lo explained. “The program reduces dry, flammable vegetation that fuels fires. It also creates defensible space so that firefighters have the opportunity to protect lives and defend homes from oncoming wildfires.”
The program is one of two that seek to mitigate wildfire damage on area properties, the other is the Brush Abatement Program managed by the Santa Clara County Fire Department. The Weed Abatement Program is managed by the county’s Department of Agriculture.
The city launched a website for both programs at saratoga.ca.us/cityhall/weed_brush.asp.
The inspections will begin May 1 throughout the city. Residents are not required to be present during the inspections.
Brandy Miceli contributed to this story.
Published at Fri, 24 Mar 2017 08:36:22 +0000