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Ask Policeman Dan: Does the city violate my constitutional rights by asking me to clean my yard?

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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 to run for City Council or mayor, win and then try to get the ordinance you don’t not agree with changed. This would also require two-thirds of the City Council agreeing with it as well. My guess is that most of the council would not agree having a messy yard was a good thing for the city or anywhere really.

If you decide that you just can’t abide by the city ordinance then they can and will clean up your yard and send you the bill. I can tell you that it is much cheaper to do the cleanup yourself.

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 did 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. Most ordinance violations are actually sent through the court before they get sent to you. There are ordinances, as well, where city employees have the authority and right to enter your property but not your home.

For the future if you stay or leave, I would suggest you get to know the ordinances before you decide anything in the future. Also be advised that counties have ordinances as well.

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.

  • Corporal Miguel Rodriguez, Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement, Florida
  • Deputy Sheriff Joshua J. Welge, Sarasota County Sheriff, Florida
  • Sergeant Michael David Dunn, Amarillo Police, Texas
  • Police Officer Stephen Evans, Burns Police, Kansas
  • Police Officer Tyler Timmins, Pontoon Beach Police, Illinois
  • Staff Sergeant Jesse Sherrill, New Hampshire State Police

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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