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Ask Policeman Dan: Do I have to clean up my yard?
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Policeman Dan

Ask Policeman Dan: Do I have to clean up my yard?

Heyburn Police Chief Dan Bristol

Heyburn Police Chief Dan Bristol

Q: I got a notice from the city I live in to clean up my yard. How can the city try to force me to do things on property that is mine? Isn’t this a constitutional issue? -Bill

A: The simplest way I can answer this is to think of the city you live in as a home owners association. Yes, the property you bought is yours but you bought it agreeing to ordinances brought forward from that city. Basically you agreed that you would not let your yard get messy when you agreed to purchase the property you live on.

The answer to change this would be for you to run for City Council, win, and then try to get the ordinance you might not agree with changed. This also would require two-thirds of the City Council agreeing with too. My guess would be that most of them would not agree that having a messy yard was a good thing for the city.

If you decide that you just won’t abide by the city ordinance violation then they can and will clean up your yard and send you the bill for the cleanup, called abatement. I will tell you that it is much cheaper to do the cleanup yourself. If you own your home a lien could be attached to the home until the bill was paid.

There are other city ordinances that can be brought into play but none of them can supersede any state laws. These ordinances were put into place to protect city values and to keep everybody safe. Ordinances are also good because they can keep you from living next to a business that does not respect your many senses (especially the sense of sleep, I added that one).

As far as your constitutional rights there are things that cities can’t do without power from the court. There are ordinances where city employees have the authority to enter onto your property but not your home (read meters, etc.).

For the future if you stay or leave I would suggest you get to know the ordinances where you live or move, before you decide anything. Also be advised that counties have ordinances too.

Officer down

Please put these officers, killed in the line of duty, and their families in your prayers. They fought the good fight, now may they rest in peace. God bless these heroes.

  • Officer Domingo Jasso, III, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection
  • Sergeant Sean Rios, Houston Police, Texas
  • Police Officer Travis C. Wallace, Helena-West Helena Police, Arkansas

Have a question for Policeman Dan? Email your questions to or look for Ask Policemandan on Facebook and click the like button. Mail to: Box 147, Heyburn, Idaho 83336. Dan Bristol is the City of Heyburn chief of police.


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