GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - In Gulfport, city leaders are taking steps to clear the community of blighted and overgrown properties as they forge ahead with beautification projects.
Code Enforcement Officer Randy Beaugez drives around Gulfport checking out blighted properties in clear violation of city codes.
"We want to see them cleaned up, cut, cleaned, all trash taken away from them," Beaugez said.
His job is to notify the owners when they need to clean their property up, with a letter saying they have 10 days to take action.
"If it's not done in 10 days, we come back and we go to council and take them to property council for the council to adjudicate it," Beaugez noted.
Beaugez says the cleanup process is always ongoing. He said property owners can live elsewhere, or even die, with no one to maintain the land. He also said they can lose their land to a bidding process after a hearing with the council, and the lowest bidding contractor will clean it up. The city says if this happens, a $250 fine gets tacked onto the property owners tax bill.
Gulfport resident Tyler Thompson said he's doing yard work for someone who lives next door to a blighted property off Hwy. 90.
"There's a bunch of junk growing onto her fence and onto her property that just needs to be gotten rid of. The area needs to do some growing after Katrina, and no one's going to want to move into the area if it doesn't look good," Thompson said.
Beaugez said he and his coworkers take calls from neighbors and find properties themselves. He also says budgeting constraints limit what the city can do, so they're asking for residents to help through volunteering.
According to the city, grass and weeds must be kept under six inches in height. Trash, debris, and inoperable vehicles must also be cleared from properties.