Dayton to step up vacant lot mowing; city cleaned up 7K areas last year on rotation

Dayton fell short of its mowing goals for vacant lots last year, but the city has increased workers’ pay and made other changes to address issues with manpower and resources.

“Maintaining and improving the quality of life in our neighborhoods is very important to the city organization,” said Fred Stovall, Dayton’s director of public works.

Dayton mows and cleans more than 7,000 vacant lots and abandoned properties citywide, and neighborhoods with the most lots include Westwood (860), Southern Dayton View (598), Edgemont (386), Residence Park (372), Lakeview (310) and Santa Clara (309).

West Dayton is home to far more than vacant lots than other parts of the city

Staffing was a major issue last year, and the city completed four rounds of mowing when it hoped to finish five, Stovall said.

“Maintaining those city boulevards and vacant lots — approximately 7,000 around the city — has just been a monster for us in 2021,” he said.

Stovall said the city would be more aggressive in its hiring and retention efforts and would start recruiting temporary employees early this year.

The city increased temporary staff pay to $16 per hour, from about $14, Stovall said, and the city will review how it deploys resources to try to significantly reduce the number of properties with trash piles and tall grass.

The city started the mowing season a few weeks ago with 45 temporary employees, which is a better staffing situation than last year, Stovall said.

The cleaning and mowing season generally runs from March to October, but workers will remove trash and cut back overgrowth between November and February if there is mild weather.

The city also will use data analysis to be more “equitable and inclusive” when deciding how to use its mowing and cleaning resources, officials said.

The city sends abatement notices to property owners if they have grass that is a foot or more tall, and if the property is not mowed and cleaned within a certain amount of time the city will do it and bill the owner, officials said.

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