We were somewhat surprised, when reading about Mayor Parnell Vanns’s desire for an ordinance addressing overgrown and unsightly yards, that the city does not already have such an ordinance.

The mayor is obviously upset by the ugly appearance of many yards and properties he has seen during his travels around the city.

“I’d encourage you to ride around your wards and look at the mess that’s in our city,” Vann told aldermen during a recent Magnolia City Council meeting. “There’s no other way to describe it.”

Unfortunately, in any city there are going to be some residents without the pride to keep their property properly maintained. The few who do let their properties become unsightly inflict the lack of care on neighbors who maintain their properties in a manner that reflects pride in their home and community.

It is true that you cannot legislate pride, but the city can legislate and enforce compliance with common sense requirements that residents maintain their yards and properties.

Such an ordinance would be in the best interest of all Magnolia residents because unsightly sites reflect poorly on the city, can lower adjoining property values and in general discourage progressive development.

While we agree with the mayor’s statement that the amounts of fines for not complying with such an ordinance should be high enough to be a deterrent, we also think the city should be careful about imposing burdens on those already struggling financially.

And, how to enforce the ordinance?

It seems reasonable to us that if, after being notified of violations of the ordinance, residents still do not take action to mow and/or cut down weeds, the city would do it and bill the property owner. Then, unpaid fines and bills for property maintenance would be placed on the owner’s real estate taxes.

We encourage the mayor’s quest to rid the city of such eyesores and nuisances.