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Thread: Post your fun (or stupid) complaints from the public

  1. #1
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
    Jul 1998
    On the Mother River

    Post your fun (or stupid) complaints from the public

    About a year ago I was called to a lady's house because her neighbor had trimmed a hedge between them and had done so from her yard. She asked if that was legal. I told her that the city had nothing against it, and that she could tell them to stay off of her property. I told her that if she did that, then the shrubs would not be trimmed. A couple of weeks later I am sent a copy of a letter from her lawyer to the neighbor saying threating tresspass charges. Fast forward one year, last week she calls and guess what her complaint was, yes you are correct, the shrubs are overgrown and I need to make them trim them. arrrrg!

  2. #2

    Sep 2001
    somewhere cold
    A junkyard was operating for about 5 years on City owned property, with no permits from the City or State. They recieved a citation for violating the zoning (not getting a conditional use permit) At the hearing, they testified that they owned all of the property. When the City finally closed the place down they called me almost every day and stopped by my office about once a week asking for help. They even asked me to testify for them at their hearing (they were issued several tickets for illeagle dumping) on their behalf. They did not understand why I denied their zoning application.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
    Aug 2001
    South Milwaukee


    A group of residents oppossed having pedestrian paths put through their neighborhood, so the Common Council axed the installations and let the developer off the hook (it was the last of the improvements, and some of the houses had been occupied up to 18 months at this point). Then the property next door is sold for development and the streets are proposed to be extended. The same neighbors fly off the handle, because their kids play in the street and they are affraid that the increased traffic will be unsafe. WHY ARE YOUR KIDS PLAYING IN THE STREET! ARRRGH!

  4. #4
          Downtown's avatar
    Oct 2000
    Under a pile of back issue Plannings
    At a public hearing for the extension of a cul-de-sac in a subdivision to allow for 8 additional lots, but the road would remain a cul-de-sac. After listening to the neighbors' indignant outrage, one young woman stood up, reiterated all her neighbors concerns about their children being hit in the street, traffic will be crazy and my personal favorite: we're opening her neighborhood up to an increase in crime.

    We live in the 9th safest community of our size in the country, and the houses that would be built in this extension were on larger lots and were an increase in sq. ft-age. Maybe she was worried about corporate criminals.

  5. #5
    maudit anglais
    May 1997
    My absolute favourite was the guy who, when constructing his small parking lot, left a large tree standing in the middle of it. "I couldn't bear to get rid of it" was his response. When I explained that it was a safety hazard (the tree physically blocked access to much of the lot), and that it would be very hard to negotiate around it, his reply was "well, maybe if you are a woman driver...".

    He refused to remove the tree, and advised me that he was a close personal friend of the mayor.

    I just pointed out to him that the fact that he had paved right up to the tree turnk had doomed his favourite tree and that he would end up having to remove it eventually anyway.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
    Feb 1998
    Greensburg, Kansas
    Public hearing to rezone land from single to multi-family.
    "I work for the prison. If I fratenize with inmates or their families, I will lose my job. The apartment renters and my future neighhbors might be relatives of prisoners. You are going to either make me move or lose my job."
    In our cramped offices the zoning administrator had a front desk where a receptionist might have been. After chatting with a citizen about his proposal and why it couldn't be done, he wanted to talk with "the man in charge". I heard him out, and after a few minutes said that the zoning administrator would be glad to try to help. I then led him out of the office and re-introduced him to Jane.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
    Oct 2001
    I had a very nasty woman call and complain for three years about her neighbor. She screamed at me my first day of work. Not fifteen minutes into the new job and this lady has one foot up my arse front of the County Commissioners. Her neighbor was allowing trash and his goats to get on her land. I took care of the trash problem through office procedures, but I was powerless to handle the goat problem.

    I suggested that she get an attorney as this was a civil matter. She suggested I evict the man because she didn’t want “Those type of people &^*@ing up the neighborhood.” I suggested I had better things to do than solve her private problems. She also wanted the county to grade the drainage way on her property because she had occasional flooding. She had a house with a basement in an Flood Plain A-Zone.

    Often, she suggested that she knew my job better than I, and she would make major stinks in our commission meetings about what poor service she received in my office. The County Commissioners were wore down by her constant berating and telephone harassment and eventually gave her whatever she asked for most of the time.

    When I moved to another position my last letter was to her. I suggested, in the nicest possible way of course, that since she was so familiar with the inner working of the department, that perhaps she should consider applying for my position.

    I understand that she took it out on my former county Commissioners.
    el Guapo is a former 20 year +/- urban planner (just like you) who thought becoming an attorney was a good life choice.

  8. #8
    Aug 2001
    Cincinnati, Ohio

    ATM Spies

    In my previous job with a county planning commission, a nut was convinced that the bank which was redeveloping and installing a new ATM next to their property was spying on them through the tiny camera next to the screen on the ATM.

    Apparantly, I was ill-informed of the Constutional guarantees of privacy from ATM spies.

    Then there were the folks who would buy a new mobile home, and dispose of the old one by burning it on site. Efficient!

  9. #9

    Oct 2001
    Solano County, California
    I just got a complaint from somebody whose neighbor's friends were "parking in his parking space" (on-street parking). When I told him the city does not assign on-street spaces, he hrrumphed that it "oughta be a law."

    He then asked if he could be liable if he accidently left his landscpaing irrigation system on for two weeks and flooded his neighbor's back yard. I suggested he talk to his insurance agent.

  10. #10
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Mar 1996
    Upstate New York
    Blog entries

    The race card

    The number one code enforcement issue I've been dealing with since I started here is abandoned vehicles. About 80% of the abandoned vehicles I deal with are in a six block area called the "West Side" -- a poor, all black enclave surrounded by mostly middle and upper income exclusively white neighborhoods. (Literally, at the well-defined boundaries you'll see a shotgun shack on one side of the street, and a high end custom home on the other.) I've cited about a quarter of the properties in the West Side, and we've had to tow about 30 or 40 cars away.

    In dealing with abandoned cars, it seems like there's no shortage of folks who play the race card, whether or not you take any action. If junk cars start piling up on the West Side, I'm racist because I don't care about the neighborhood, and I'm not doing anything about it. If I do a code enforcement sweep, my motivation is racism, because the majority of those who are cited are black. If I cite a white resident, I'm reverse racist, because of "all those cars those blacks have up on blocks over on the West Side -- why aren't you doing anything about it?" When someone plays the race card, the discussion is over as far as I'm concerned.

    I got dealt the race card quite a bit at my first job -- "You're only picking on me because I'm ['Hispanic, and you don't want us to get ahead', 'Anglo, and we know Hispanics have all the power and clout around here']."

    I've learned to keep track of all political signs that I pull from the ROW -- I've been called both a Democratic and Republican party lackey before, and folks quickly shut up when I give a them list showing signs pulled by candidate and party affiliation. That got me on the news one night -- some over-enthusiastic campaign workers were yanking signs from yards, and I showed the reporter the figures for signs pulled from the ROW by the city. "If there's a violation on private property, we send notice and let the property owner take care of the violation, but if it's on public property, we pull it and then send notice. Here's what we've pulled from the streets so far." The number of signs for Democtats and Republicans was about equal. The city actually ends up looking good.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  11. #11
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
    Oct 2001
    Middle of a Dusty Street
    My personal favorite comes from the Public Works Department:

    A woman called to complain about her erratic water pressure, and an "odd smell" since she had her old leaky water line replaced. Seems the plumber who replaced the line ran it to the main in a different direction than the old line... and then tapped the sewer force main instead of the water line.



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