Councilor: City Needs To Step Up Code Enforcement

OSWEGO, NY – While Port City officials look around to discover new forms of revenue for the cash-strapped city one council member says they don’t have to re-invent the wheel.

Mike Todd, Third Ward, pointed out Monday night that Oswego could increase its cash intake simply by vigorously cracking down on repeat code violator and collecting fines.

The way the city enforces codes currently is complaint-driven, he pointed out.

“I think that’s kind of a crazy way to do things. That’s like asking our police or fire department to only respond to police or fire issues if there’s a complaint,” he said. “I’m frustrated. I know other councilors are frustrated.”

It’s time to look “long and hard” at the way the city enforces its codes and possibly make some changes, he said.

He said he has been getting the same calls every two weeks, from the same residents, complaining the same lawns aren’t being mowed, the same property isn’t being maintained – and the same process is followed …send out another letter.

“After the first time you get a letter, you should get fined automatically the next time,” he said.

The city should be more proactive and not just respond to complaints, he added.

“If (someone) drives by a property and sees that there is a problem, especially on Bridge Street, where everybody drives through, we have to look a different ways of doing business. Because this isn’t acceptable,” he said. “I’m not exactly sure how we’re going to do it. But I do believe we have to look long and hard at our codes and how they’re being enforced.”

First Ward Councilor Fran Enwright echoed Todd’s sentiments.

“I know the past few weeks have been a challenge down in the First and Third wards. There have been a lot of debris and old sofas, furniture … placed along the road,” he said. “I want to let everyone know that this did not go unnoticed.”

He said he supports what Councilor Todd is proposing.


  1. Well, sometimes with heavy rain it’s tough to continually keep lawns in order as one may run into the problem of having to work & then having grass too wet to cut; so it grows. Then, once time allows, it could easily happen again, especially for us night workers. Also, if the city would keep its paws out of the pockets of the few ramaining tax/feepayers left in it, then maybe….just maybe…we would be able to afford to repair our homes to satisfy any codes which may be getting violated due to a simple lack of residual income; hmmm, there’s a thought…might even have enough left over to hire some poor kid to cut the grass back into code & allow him/her to buy a candy bar.

  2. It’s easy to see who cares for their lawn, so excuses are just that. If most lawns on the block are cared for, then they all should be. Property owners should all fall under the same requirements. Your personal work schedule plays no part in your responsibility, Robert. It is your choice.

    As an aside, shoddy looking homes run down the property values of other dwellings creating less revenue for the City. If people can’t maintain a dwelling, they shouldn’t own it, plain and simple. Repeat offenders should see their fines increase with each offense. Put the burden on the multiple homeowner to maintain their homes, not the lone homeowner who watches their investment decrease in value because of something outside their control.

  3. I’ve wondered why some lawns get overlooked while others get ‘cited’ for decades. It’s pretty clear which are owner-occupied, and which are rentals, because once the school year ends, a lot of the landlords seem to ‘take their time’ getting ‘to it.’ I understand about cutting grass when the rains come, but IF you charge what we all know you DO charge for renters, how come you can’t pay some poor kid to cut the lawns. The better landlords, like Avery find it in their budgets to do so, so how come so many ‘others’ do not. Charge $5.00 more per renter each month and you’d have it in your budget!

    The reason neighbors complain is because for several weeks after school ends, we deal with possums, skunks, and rats on the west side due to overflowing garbage cans with no lids, and left over furniture and debris that the creatures can nest in. Not really their fault they can find a super ‘buffet’ and not have to hunt for food for a month or more. THEN, a few weeks later, Harborfest arrives, and guess again, the same apartment dwellings have an overflow that isn’t attended to while those properties get ‘used’ for the weekend. Thanks fellow property owners for that!
    We are landlords, too. We have a duplex. And no, we aren’t always able to get to the lawn as quickly as we’d like with our 60 plus hour work weeks. But we DO hire out when we CAN’t get to it.

    Ditto for winter snow. There is an issue with this. Folks go away for the winter, and their sidewalks aren’t shovelled for a month or more. Besides alerting vandals, it’s a big inconvenience for school children who have to walk around banks and into the road to get to the bus.

    PLEASE look into this for us. The First and Third Wards appear to have more of an issue with this than the eastside or the southern parts of the city.

    Third Ward Resident, 30 years plus.

  4. Really People, this has been going on for more than 20 years this city has gone to crap and you’re just now realizing this, wake up please and spare me the disappointment and rage, boo-hoo it’s your fault for not paying attention and letting the city councilers/alderman/mayor get away with it!!!

  5. Try to be positive, Tammy. The past is the past. It’s better people wake up now than not at all. Why not try applaud and encourage it? You see, criticism turns people off. It is good to see people speaking up more loudly for their City when leaders have not been listening.

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