Tall grass and weeds seem to be taking over many areas in Austin. The city has a 12-inch rule for property owners, but many are not abiding by that rule, including the city itself.
Rachael Dovos is one of many who use her bike as her way of getting around town. She said it’s faster and cheaper than a vehicle. But just like drivers, she faces hazards “Riverside by 35, that sidewalk there is just overgrown. I don't ride on the sidewalks a whole lot but some streets don't have bike lanes so sometimes you risk getting slapped in the face with some branches or getting hit by a car,” she said.
Drivers, pedestrians, bike riders all have something in common right now, trying to navigate in or around overgrown weeds and grass. The City of Austin said anything over 12-inches violates city code and property owners could be given citations. But even the city is violating its own code. Cameron and Ferguson Lane in the center median would be a violation on the city. Enfield Road and15th there’s an area that would be a violation on the city. When asked about what appears to be a double standard, Jasson Davenport with the City of Austin Code Department responded, “You have one little yard that you're keeping mowed, which you got like one lawnmower. The city has 10 lawn mowers with thousands of pieces of property throughout the city.” Davenport said the city is doing its best to keep up, but with recent rains and the amount of property to maintain they have to prioritize, based on safety. “If it's a dangerous line of sight, a lot of it if it's a safe route to school. The city tries to get out there and have a crew get out there and cut it and cut it back to where it's safe for people to see and working on the dangerous intersections,” Davenport said.
Last week, some Montopolis residents took matters into their own hands, trimming weeds they said were making the intersection at Riverside and Vargas dangerous. After investigating, Fox 7 learned this property is privately owned, and this violation would be on the land owners.
City officials also said it's important for homeowners to know what they are responsible for. “If you have your property and your fence backs up to a major road, there's usually a stretch of grass that covers in between the back fence and the curb, a lot of people don't know, they are actually responsible for that,” Davenport said.
Whoever is responsible, bike riders like Rachael just want to stop riding on jungle-ridden sidewalks, “It could mess somebody up to where they could go out into the road into traffic whatever, yeah just be mindful and trim your bushes or trees,” she said.
You are encouraged to call and report to 311 if you see overgrown grass and weeds causing a dangerous situation. The city said it will investigate.