Cell phones, computers to track weed violations

In their battle to keep weeds at bay and appease one of local residents’ chief gripes, Grand Junction city officials have a new weapon at their disposal this year.

A computer chip.

City employees who will begin actively enforcing Grand Junction’s weed ordinance on May 1 will write up violations using a special tablet and a pen containing a computer chip. The chip will transmit data to a cell phone, which will be used to shoot a picture of the offending property.

All that information will be transmitted from the cell phone to a computer database.

Hard copies of the violations will be left on the property and mailed to the property owner. But the violations also will show up on a Web site, where property owners can access information on just their own properties.

Kathy Portner, manager of the city’s Neighborhood Services Division, which oversees the weed abatement program, said the ability to access information about weed violations on the Web site will be particularly beneficial for absentee land owners.

In general, she said, the technology will allow the city’s weed surveyor to work more efficiently.

“It greatly reduces the amount of time a surveyor has to spend in the office” writing up violations, Portner said.

The technology also means the city will need to employ one surveyor, rather than two. The savings in salary will more than cover the cost of the computer chip, she said.

Portner said the city has used the computer chip technology in the past for writing parking tickets and plans to use it to handle graffiti reports.

The city is implementing one other change it hopes will reduce weed violations.

In years past, a property owner who received a violation and didn’t cut his weeds within a week would be fined $150 and billed the cost of having the city cut the weeds, plus an administrative fee.

This year, land owners fined $150 can have the fine reduced to $50 if they take care of their weeds within an additional week.

“We think that will greatly reduce the properties we ultimately have to cut,” Portner said.


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