Greater City Providence

Regarding the weed ordinance and enforcement

WPRI reports on City Councilman Michael Correia’s proposal to fine homeowners for unruly weeds on their property. The ordinance would impose a $25 fine per day on homeowners who have weeds or grass on their property exceeding 8 inches in height.

While there is a neighborhood beautification component to the proposal, as the WPRI video above shows, it is also a safety concern. As I’m sure you’re all aware, we have another ordinance which addresses a safety concern, snow shoveling.

WPRI reports: “The Department of Public Works would be in charge of enforcing the ordinance.” Great, DPW is also responsible for enforcing snow removal. How is that working out? The City admitted this to the Providence Journal way back in 2010 regarding snow removal:

Peter T. Gaynor, city director of emergency management, acknowledged, however, that the DPW is not yet ready to discharge its new duty. For the time being, he said, it’s still up to the police.

Before we pass another toothless ordinance, let us figure out who is going to enforce it and ensure they have the resources to do so.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • Agreed. How many people died last year as a result of unshoveled sidewalks and being forced to walk in the street? I find overgrown yards to be a real nuisance too, but not nearly as important as shoveling.

  • I know it’s not a long-term, structural solution (that’s what the ordinance would be for); but why don’t people go over and cut down those weeds?

  • As much as it pains me to say it, you can’t just go onto someone else’s property and cut their grass for them. For one, it is a trespassing issue and for 2 it is a liability issue.

    Overgrown yards are often a health issue too, because rats love it when people don’t take care of their yards. Also, it is most likely where you will find a chupacabra in an urban environment.

    Sidewalks are another issue entirely since technically it is owned by the city (or the state) depending on where the sidewalk is.

  • The city would be the biggest offender if this ordinance passes. Canal Street was a jungle before a citizen volunteered to chop the chest-high shrubs and saplings down – including the poison ivy that was hanging on the rails of the river.

    Also, how exactly does the bill define a weed? What about flower beds or other non-grass sidewalk plantings that exceed 8 inches in height?

  • This is a horrible, horrible proposal. “Weed” is in the eye of the beholder. Why would we want to empower the government to tell us what plants we can and cannot grow on our properties? Most of my front lawn is taller than 8 inches–including flowers, shrubs, immature trees, vegetable plants, and indeed some plants that others might consider weeds but that I consider beautiful yellow or pink flowers. Furthermore, these “weeds” provide vital food and habitat for wildlife, including the burgeoning local population of honeybees. And requiring shorter lawns will only increase carbon emissions and noise pollution in our neighborhoods. This proposal could destroy the beauty and character of our city. If there is a safety concern, it can be addressed with requirements to keep sidewalks passable (which already exist, though without enforcement); furthermore, homeowners already face civil liability for hazards on their properties. This is sufficient. Leave our plants be.

  • I thought the jokes wrote themselves here but it looks like I must step up.

    The sensible solution here is simply to require that all yards be paved, for parking.

Providence, RI
5:22 am8:20 pm EDT
Feels like: 77°F
Wind: 7mph SSW
Humidity: 93%
Pressure: 30.12"Hg
UV index: 4
90°F / 70°F
93°F / 73°F
93°F / 77°F