One man... 50,000 homes to maintain

RICHLAND, Wash. -- If it seems like there are more eyesores around your neighborhood, it's for good reason. Budget cuts means Richland code enforcement is stretched to the max.

"It comes down to laziness... I just believe it doesn't take much work to make your place look nice"

Lori Hogan's words hit home for anyone who's ever dealt with a messy neighbor.

It doesn't matter how much time and effort you spend maintaining your yard; one house can hurt property values for everyone.

"It's very offensive to me because they need to appreciate what they have... it brings everything down," Hogan tells KEPR.

That's where code enforcement comes in. The goal is to clean up messy yards across Richland. So far this spring, it's been quite a challenge.

Currently there is just one code enforcement officer to patrol all of Richland. One man is in charge of monitoring tens of thousands of yards.

As always, money is the main sticking point. In the past year, two positions opened up at code enforcement -- but a tight budget meant they went unfilled. Richland is averaging a two week delay for anyone calling with a complaint.

"As long as we let people know where we're at and what's going on, that makes a big difference," says Sgt. Carmen Versteeg.

To deal with such a monstrous workload, Richland Codes can't be proactive. They can only react to your complaints.

Richland hopes to hire two new officers by the start of summer. For now, it's a case of 50,000 houses, and one man to make sure they're presentable.

The drop in manpower led to fewer overall code citations in Richland last year.