Grass has neighbors searching for an answer


The Mirror

Southwest 313th Street in Federal Way is a quiet cul-de-sac off Dash Point Road with billowing trees, well-fed cats, blooming rosebushes and abundant bird feeders.

It’s the kind of neighborhood where each house bares a friendly “Welcome” sign, a carefully manicured lawn and a shiny SUV out front.

All except for the house on the corner.

Neighbors on Southwest 313th Street are furious about their neighbor’s overgrown lawn.

The lawn, a mixture of grass, weeds and sticker-bushes, stretches waist-high.

It’s an eyesore, neighbors say. And there’s not much they can do about it.

Neighbors have tried to reason with the man who lives there but to no avail. They’ve placed a sign in the yard reading “Dude, cut your grass.” They’ve called the city. They’ve called the newspaper.

And still the lawn grows.

“Maybe he’s using it as a wildlife preserve,” quipped one neighbor who asked that his name not be used.

“It’s a disgrace. I don’t know why something can’t be done about it,” said Rick Hughes, who lives across the street.

Hughes worries that the lawn is a fire hazard and that it might attract rats and various wild animals.

“I’m very angry about it,” Hughes said. “Everyone else takes care of their yards except for this guy here.”

Hughes said he considered calling the city to complain. He doesn’t want to get the city involved in what should be private matters, he said, but he doesn’t see any other way.

“I hate to see it go to laws where you have to do something to please the city, but on the other hand, that’s gotten out of hand,” he said, gazing across the street. “The other neighbors shouldn’t have to put up with it.”

The weeds, such as dandelions, spread, Hughes noted.

“His yard is all weeds. There’s no grass. And those weeds blow over into my yard. It causes a lot of problems for the other neighbors too,” he said. “It’s a constant problem.”

Karen Depew, who lives a few houses down, is less worried about the weeds invading her yard. But she is worried about living near such an offensive lawn.

“It’s embarrassing when you tell somebody where you live and that’s the first thing they see when they drive around the corner,” Depew said. “I know it brings the property value down. I’m glad I’m not trying to sell my house.”

Other neighbors, who asked not to be named, noted that the man who owns the house is not physically unable to mow the yard nor is he living in poverty. He has a job and owns two nice, newer vehicles and a fishing boat, one man pointed out.

“It’s pretty pathetic,” the neighbor said. “It’s not like he doesn’t have the money where he couldn’t hire somebody to come cut his grass.”

The neighbors on Southwest 313th Street aren’t the only Federal Way folks fed up with a neighbor’s grass.

At a city council meeting last week, four angry neighbors complained to the council about a house on Southwest 325th Street that has an overgrown yard, junk cars and garbage.

Several neighbors complained about rat and carpenter ant infestations as a result of the overgrown, unkept property.

Pat Roragen, a real estate agent who lives nearby, said the house diminishes property values of other homes nearby. Houses in the neighborhood take longer to sell than those in other areas of Federal Way, Roragen said. She blames the overgrown lawn and the junk.

According to Becky Lemke, a code compliance officer for the City of Federal Way, there is no city code regarding the length of a resident’s grass. A portion in the code regarding overgrown grass and noxious weed was deleted as part of an amendment in 2004.

The city is currently considering revising the code and could include a portion about grass and lawn maintenance, Lemke said. Until then, the best way to get involved is to contact your local city council member.

Staff writer Margo Horner: 925-5565,

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