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Since You Asked: Code Enforcement can help with rotten apples

Is there anything I can do about a neighbor whose abandoned apple tree drops apples most of the summer? The rotting apples smell and attract pests, including yellowjackets and rats. I put up traps next to the fence for the yellowjackets, but I see nothing on the Jackson County Vector Conrol site about dealing with rats attracted by neighbors' fallen fruits. I have rat traps I can put on my side, but they are useless since the rats are so well fed on the other side.

— Ellen W., Medford

Here at Since You Asked headquarters, we've heard that we're supposed to make lemonade when life hands us lemons, but rats and rotten apples don't have many recipes.

Jackson County Vector Control provides resources for mosquito abatement within the county, so they wouldn't be the resource for your rat and yellowjacket problem. That doesn't mean you're stuck with well fed vermin, Ellen — or fresh-squeezed appletinis if you're feeling a certain sort of proactive this Labor Day weekend.

Instead, we reached out to Lieutenant Mike Budreau with the Medford Police Department.

It turns out the mess you've described is a violation of the Uniform Housing Code, and Budreau pointed us to subsection 1001.11, titled "Hazardous or Insanitary Premises."

The code notes that accumulation of weeds, dead organic matter, garbage, rat harborages, and combustible materials can be a fire, health or safety hazard.

He lined out that if Code Enforcement determines there's a violation, steps are taken to abate it.

"We would notify a property owner, and they'd have 10 days to clean it up," Budreau said, clarifying that the rule applies to bank-owned properties, as well.

He explained that if a 10-day period no action is taken, Code Enforcement gets involved and the property owner foots the bill.

"We will contract it out to have it cleaned up," he said.

The first step in the process is to contact Medford Code Enforcement at 541-774-2016.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.