Dear Action Line: The other day I received a “ticket” from the city for having a couch with a “free” sign on the lawn. I was tickled by the bold letters at the bottom: “COURTESY NOTICE ONLY – NOT A CITATION.” Surely you remember the old “Howdy Pardner” courtesy tickets that the city of Durango once issued to tourists whose parking meters expired, or who pulled big trucks into angled parking spaces with trailer still attached. Why don’t they give those out any longer? Do tourists no longer deserve courtesy? Meantime, if you want to find a new home for a couch, you have a narrow window. – The Lawn Couch Queen
Dear Queen: Whether tourists deserve courtesy is for a much higher authority, but yes, Action Line does recall those polite “Howdy, Pardner” warning tickets, and when parking tickets were $6, or was it $3? The city finally decided it needed the money from all violators, and truth be told, who knows which New Mexico, Texas, California, etc., plates belong to first-time tourists or to second-home owners?
For an answer as to why the city seems to be so eager to get couches off lawns, Action Line turned to Steve Barkley, code enforcement officer with the city of Durango. He offered a few suggestions to hopefully keep everyone happy.
“Giving away furniture and appliances for reuse is encouraged if done in a safe, proper manner, some restrictions applicable,” he said.
One issue is that such items must be on private property – not on city rights of way, greenbelts, alleys, parking lots and public properties. In this case, the couch was on a greenbelt. The owner was given 10 days to comply with the “courtesy notice,” which the owner did.
Barkley said that, when asked, his office recommends advertising items on social media and to place the item in the front yard on Friday late afternoon.
“If the item is not gone by Monday morning, it would be best to dispose of it properly at that point, so that critters (mice and rats) do not have an new home, and Code Enforcement does not come pay a visit.”
Dear Action Line: I’ve heard of pandemic-inspired pop-up concerts but a pop-up business? I couldn’t help but notice the speed with which a business went up on Goeglein Gulch Road next to Ted’s Rental; fence off a section, plow the unwanted debris over a lovely sage patch, and voilà, a literal “pop-up” business. Is the city of Durango now granting Pop-Up Permits? – Catching a Pop-Up
Dear Pop-Up: Thanks for your question. Action Line took action, as the title implies may happen when you offer up a question. After several communications among the city’s Community Development Department, and the business owner, Chad White with Genesis Land and Waterscapes, it appears that everyone is trying to play by the rules.
White, contacted by Action Line, said that since November he has been renting the land from Triple H Leasing next door as a commercial storage yard. This is not a retail business, which would require different standards. He worked on acquiring the proper permits from the city. The pile of “spoils” was relocated onto an access road by the landowner, and White doesn’t think any sage was harmed.
Scott Shine, planning manager with the Community Development Department, seemed confident everything will be properly taken care of.
“Our standards state that any excavation work that involves moving 10 or more cubic yards triggers the requirement for an excavation permit. After discussions with the business owner, our engineering staff has concluded that they did not do work that triggers the need for a permit.”
The city is looking into whether another permit is needed for the temporary fencing, and whether some of the storage is encroaching into the public right of way. If so, the equipment will need to be relocated or an encroachment permit issued.
White is no fly-by-night operator, and he wanted to emphasize that. He has been in Durango since 1999 and began his landscape business here in 2003. He said he has donated to a bunch of local nonprofits, including Durango Botanic Gardens, Durango Devo and Parker’s Animal Rescue.
‘J’ Street follow-upAction Line got this note from reader Sarah Musil, in reference to last week’s Action Line column:
“Reading about the missing ‘J’ in streets, I remembered from ushering at the Fort that something was missing there. I think it’s the ‘I’ instead of ‘J’ though.”
Well, how about that? It’s true. The Fort Lewis College Community Concert Hall has no row “I.” Further digging reveals that theaters commonly leave out row “I,” and sometimes “O.” The reason is because “I” and “O” look too much like “1 (one)” and “0 (zero).” That can cause confusion. Some theaters don’t use “Q” because it resembles “O,” especially in the dark.
Including last week’s column, the alphabet has been pared to about 21 or 22 letters, but hopefully that’s enough to get by with for now.
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