The Dream of the '90s 1984 Is Alive in Portland!


Getting a bit shaggy there, kids

Ah, Portlandia. The only place in America where you can shit on a stranger's lawn without sanction (as long as you work for the Post Office), but God help you if someone notices that you haven't been properly tending your own:

A Portland pilot program that lets residents not only complain but get something done about neighbors' overgrown lawns will continue this summer, city officials say. That means homeowners who fail to mow their grass could get smacked with $233 monthly fines.

Under the program, all it takes to bust a neighbor is a digital photo uploaded to the city's website. With a photo in hand, a city worker can send a nasty-gram telling the homeowner to clean up his property—all from the comfort of a desk. […]

Residents have filed 260 complaints since the program started last July. Of those, the city found 157 valid. Threatening letters prompted action in about 80 percent of cases.

Link via '90s dreamer and friend o' Reason Nancy Rommelmann.

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  1. Send pictures of your junk.
    Then tell them you were hacked. (whatever that means)

  2. In Gresham, inspectors still must leave their cubicles to scope out possible violations. Portland’s approach saves time and money for the Bureau of Development Services, which has had to cut neighborhood inspectors because of budget trims.

    Sure, this program is a blatant over reach of state authority, and disregard for property rights. If you overlook these minor details, then this program is a model of government reform.

  3. You are, in fact, your brother’s neighbor’s keeper.

    1. It is more blessed to snitch on your neighbor than to mind your own friggin’ business.

  4. The war on Xeriscapers continues. They are irresponsibly putting their own interests above those of the collective.


  6. Gosh I loved the 80s! They rocked!


  7. Portland sucks. Die hipster scum!

    Wait. What were we talking about?

  8. It’s too damn unsettling to consider that most informer programs started out as seeking little tidbits about one’s neighbors. Classic setup. Anonymize the weaselly snitches that derive pleasure from tripping people up, followed by an unleashing of the power of the state on the victims.

    Why? Because they didn’t live up to someone else’s satisfaction.

  9. This confuses me. Isn’t Portland a hotbed for environmentalism of all stripes? As such, isn’t it safe to assume that many properties might now be landscaped with the prairie grass that’s become increasingly chic as of late? I wonder if an exemption can be had for this.

  10. This is nothing. I live in OKC and we have people that go around and tell you if your yard is messy and even if your house needs paint or repairs. You get a notice and then a fine if you don’t remedy the situation.

  11. Property rights do not include the right to be a nuisance on neighbors.
    People should talk to their neighbors before reporting them to the lawn police… which should not exist in the first place (maybe an online small claims court?).

    I live in this community. I’m not exactly a fan of the politics or the scope of government here, but I will give Mayor Sam Adams credit for being responsive to the community. If you report him something on @twitter- like a road problem, a community park issue, a train not running properly, an issue with the police- the Mayor deals with it.

    1. Brewer and patriot as well!

  12. Property rights do not include the right to be a nuisance on neighbors.

    Exactly. STFU, you obnoxious nagging little busybody.

    1. Unless you’ve signed away your rights to a homeowners’ association, the rules of which are binding.

      1. Is every house in Portland part of a homeowner’s association?

        1. Property rights do not include the right to be a nuisance…

          The commentator did not restrict his comment to Portland and neither did I.

          1. So, not everyone in Portland is in a homeowner’s association? But, oh… let’s not stick with Portland.

            Is everyone in the country in a homeowner’s association? Or, how about… Is the number of people affected by a voluntary membership in a homeowner’s association even 10% of the people affected by zoning laws?

            But, yeah, love or leave it right? You don’t like zoning laws go live in Somalia! HURR DURR! ROADS!

          2. Property rights do not include the right to be a nuisance…

            Ummm, it kind of looks like the person who posted this is saying your property rights do not include getting to be a nuisance by letting your grass grow too high.

            Or am I misreading this?

  13. Under the program, all it takes to bust a neighbor is a digital photo uploaded to the city’s website. With a photo in hand, a city worker can send a nasty-gram telling the homeowner to clean up his property — all from the comfort of a desk.

    You know who else wanted people to rat their neighbors out to government bureaucrats?

    1. Every government ever? Nightwatch? Gimme another clue.

  14. I was a bit disappointed with Portlandia. I wanted more Portland jokes and less random skit type things. I have lots of family there and spent a lot of time there growing up, and can attest to the fact that Portlanders cannot be mocked enough.

    1. You can only expect so much from those two.

      Like most sketch comedy, the key to quality is brevity and hard choices. You should always tell a sketch-based group that they have twice as many hours as they really do, then cut back right before they start filming. I’d rather see 5 tight shows than 10 flabby ones. Comedy abhors a vacuum and always fills it with suck.

    2. I also grew up in Portland, when the hipsters were still in their nappies.

      It’s totally insufferable, now. I don’t even recognize the culture there anymore. The only redeeming thing left about Portland is Music Millennium and the various branches of Everyday Music.

      However, the lack of respect for property rights is a long-time Oregonian thang, as any rural property owner there will tell you. Portlanders are more than happy to tell somebody in Burns or Baker City what they can and cannot do with their back forty.

  15. signed away your rights to a homeowners’ association

    No you nitwit; you don’t sign away your rights, you voluntarily enter into an agreement to do or not do certain things.

    This story is about the general population of Portland, where no such binding voluntary agreement exists.

  16. The only reason I have ever gone to Portland is Portland International Raceway. I’m sure the hipsters would like nothing more than to shut it down.

  17. I wonder how the city will respond when someone sends in a photo of overgrown grass on city property.

    I live in a suburb of Detroit that has a sidewalk snow ordinance. If you don’t clear the snow, the city will ticket you, clear off the snow and send you a bill.

    Then I noticed that the city only enforced the ordinance against private property owners. There is an interstate highway that runs through the city and none of the sidewalks on the overpasses were ever cleared of snow. I complained to the city manager, asking him to please ask the county and state to follow the local ordinances like everyone else.

    Instead, the city started plowing those sidewalks. When I asked the city manager if the city was compensated for that labor, he dodged, saying that the city gets a check from the state every year. When I asked him if the amount on the check went up after they started clearing those sidewalks, he said no.

    The double standard with which politicians and public employees treat the public is outrageous, how there is one law for regular folks and a more privileged position for those on the public payroll.

    BTW, this is the same city, that when a Parks & Rec employee cursed me out, calling me a motherf*cker, had a uniformed police officer waiting for me at the city council meeting to warn me about what language I could use, telling me I could not define that curse word before the council. The mayor then warned me that I could not mention the employee’s name if I was going to be critical, saying that it wasn’t fair because he wasn’t there to defend himself. This was after the mayor apologized and said the guy got a “verbal” reprimand, so what defense could he have?

    So much for the 1st Amendment.

    When I told the city manager that I wanted a personal apology from the employee, in front of other city employees (he cursed me in front of another city employee – let him be as humiliated as I was), the city manager told me that that wasn’t going to happen.

    Basically, they treated me like I was the miscreant, and they did everything possible to protect the public employee.

    1. That’s universal. Arlington County, Virginia’s government is trying to go all medieval on private property owners about snow removal, but can’t be bothered to clear its own sidewalks.

  18. I guess I’m confused. It’s okay then to let your yard go to hell, overgrown with weeds, broken branches or whatever because of the “it’s my yard so I will do what I want” mentality, but I as a neighbor would be a busybody or nuisance because I complained about it. Gee, the lawn from hell doesn’t have any direct effect on me, except for perhaps the debris that would blow into my yard, the trip hazards from said debris left laying about for children to fall over, the effect on my property’s value (it’s tough enough to sell one’s house in this economy so let your neighbor have the lawn of a crack-house?) or the fact that the debris and unkempt lawn can lead to hiding places for vermin? And yards with horrid unkempt lawns are often an indication of something else going on in or around the property.

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