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Our Opinion: Even cleaner

October 08, 2001

It is one thing to establish a good program and keep it going in top working order.

It is another to take a good program, tinker with it and try to make it even better.

That is what the El Centro City Council is doing with its nuisance abatement program.

The program has been successful in a short time in cleaning up some of the worst properties in a city that needed more than a bit of sprucing.

When told that their properties were fire hazards, most people in the city, 231 in fact, cleaned up their messes. Those 30 who didn't clean up their quagmires after several requests by the city had their properties cleaned by the city. They were then billed. One property was assessed nearly $30,000 for the cleanup.

Some people might consider this an invasion of property rights. We think to allow a property to be a fire hazard and an eyesore is a violation of the property rights of all the neighbors.

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El Centro and other cities in the Valley have many people who care to keep their property in the best condition possible. There are way too many others who don't give a rat's fanny about their properties, and if it takes such municipal actions to get the place safe and clean, so be it.

Now the city of El Centro will continue with its program but will be expanding its scope, with a particular focus on Union Pacific Railroad property and abandoned cars. Union Pacific has some sites in the city that have caused problems in the past, and there is no shortage of lots with more than one broken down heap rotting on the premises. Such old wrecks are ugly and are hazards, particularly to children who might climb inside and not be able to get out on hot days. We hope the city also is on the lookout for old refrigerators and clothes dryers, which can be similarly dangerous.

Other cities around the Valley have been following El Centro's lead and are considering their own nuisance abatement programs. We urge those cities to go forward with such programs. The Valley has a lot to offer and can be a beautiful place, but it has a lot of festering areas that need a good and thorough cleansing.

We applaud the El Centro City Council, a generally forward-thinking group, for being particularly forward thinking with its original nuisance abatement program, then taking something good and making it even better.

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