22. Aesthetic Penalty Tax

A fine for aesthetic deficiency should be levied on properties that appear considerably unaesthetic in relation to the surrounding neighborhood and significantly below the community’s ‘average look and feel’. After a complaint about an unaesthetic property has been submitted, a group of trained, qualified evaluators, probably composed of community representatives, the city council, and/or others not directly acquainted with the parties involved in the dispute, would compare that property to others in the neighborhood and then assign an aesthetic grade to the property in question. Photographs of the offending property and other neighboring and similar kinds of properties in the neighborhood would be taken for reference purposes and to allow all members of the deciding committee to make comparisons. If the property is given a passing grade, no fines or any other action would be taken. If the property is given a failing grade, a fine would be applied that is proportional to the degree to which it failed. The minimum fine should be $100 for extremely minor offenses, like leaving a garbage can out past the allowable time. Furthermore, a notice would be issued to the property owner and occupant (if they are different people) requiring them to fix the aesthetic pollutant within one month or within another reasonable time period, at which time their will be another aesthetic inspection. If they fail this second inspection regardless of the degree to which they fail, the same time frame for compliance would again be issued but the original fines would be doubled.

Any individual may submit an aesthetic complaint concerning any kind of property, whether it is private, public, commercial, or anything else. Complaints about unsightly infrastructures, telephone poles, cell phone towers, poorly maintained landscaping, graffiti, illegal signs, and anything else could be allowed. However, any person submitting a complaint must be required to pay a $25 filing fee. Such a fee would help filter out trivial complaints. If such complaints prove valid, the fee would be returned. In addition, if a fine is assessed to the property owner, the original informant(s) who submitted the original complaint would be entitled to receive a significant portion of that fine as compensation and reward for informing authorities about the aesthetic violation.

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