Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The War On Grass. No, Not Marijuana. Grass.

I was reading the League Of Women Voters report on one of the Cleveland Heights, Ohio USA June 2014 city council meetings (often a source of great amusement) in The Heights Observer and noticed that the city government was revising their weed laws.

No, not marijuana.  Judging from some of the tie-dye flavor of the shops on Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights is pretty cool with that.

Just plain old lawn weeds.

It's not even just dandelions that the good liberals of the Heights don't like.  They don't even like plain old grass if it's more than six inches tall.  I'm glad that I don't live there since I have some varieties of grass that seem to grow that length overnight given the right conditions (I don't know what type it is, but the blades are broad and my cat likes to eat them).

The latest salvo in the war on unruly vegetation ("Oh, why won't it just stop growing and look like it does on a golf course?!") is a proposal to send only one warning to the property owner and then if the grass is not mowed and gets unruly again in the next year to just mow it and charge the property owner at $200 an hour for city goons municipal employees to teach the grass not to reach so high for the sun.  According to this article by Chanda Neely, the new city manager wanted to even skip the warning, but the council, in a rare moment of sanity, rejected that idea.  The city manager isn't all bad though.  She wanted to make the violation height more than 8 inches.  Council, recovering from their rare brush with good sense, rejected that idea as well.

I've been researching the American obsession with lawns, particularly their use as symbols, and I would like to chalk up this nonsense (worrying about the height of grass in the first place and paying people to measure it with rulers in the second place) to just the nuttiness of Cleveland Heights, but this is more of a national nuttiness.  They aren't alone in wasting taxpayer money and human energy on an unwinnable war.  Of course, governments love these kind of futile endeavors (which reminds me of another one, the war of drugs) since it allows them to spend the public money to employ people (often their friends and relatives) and buy stuff (by corporations who donate to political campaigns usually), plus the whole rush from exercising power over others no doubt makes them feel good in a creepy way.

Along those lines, it's also ironic that in Cleveland Heights getting caught with the other kind of grass is a minor misdemeanor in most cases resulting in a fine not more than $150, which might be cheaper than forgetting to mow the lawn.  Given that the city council and administration are wasting time on silly matters such as the height of grass, I do have to wonder what they're smoking.

Hey, it would explain a lot!

For, not only are their bigger issues that local governments should be spending their limited resources on, but also the height of grass shouldn't be an issue at all.  Property owners should decide what they want in their own yards, not their neighbors and not the government.  Most of the arguments against tall grass don't hold up to scrutiny; essentially, it boils down to a fight over aesthetics.  Being that Cleveland Heights is in America, the so-called land of the free, and claims to be progressive, maybe their government should find their way back to when they did show some "creativity and culture" in regards to land use such as when they allowed residents to raise chickens.

On the grass issue, however, the city has laid an egg.

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