Tall weeds by airport are crops

I know the city of Medford is pretty aggressive in the summer about getting people to cut their tall weeds and grass, and I think it not only helps reduce fire danger but also helps make our city look better. So why is it that officers routinely drive right past the absolute worst fire hazard in town and do nothing about it? I'm talking about that county owned field off Whittle Avenue along the approach to the airport. It's got tall weeds so dry a single tossed cigarette could burn the neighborhood. What gives?

— Maggie F., Medford

Well, Maggie, we get some version of this email at Since You Asked Central each summer during Medford's unofficial fire season of June 1 to Oct. 1. That's when the Medford Police Department enforces municipal code 7.430, aka The Weed Ordinance.

Any weed over 10 inches is considered a violation that must be fixed by the owner. Violators are notified and given 10 days to trim the vegetation. If it doesn't happen, they can be fined $150.

That airport approach happens to be on Since You Ask's personal flight path, and we've certainly noticed dry grass at more than 10 inches tall there.

But what we have here, Maggie, is called ... an exception.

Sure, the land is owned by Jackson County, but this isn't one government giving another one a break.

Medford police Chief Tim George says the land is leased to a private agricultural business to grow hay. The Weed Ordinance contains an exception for agricultural crops. Hence, no ticket and no fine, George says.

The farmer expects to harvest his crop later this month, George says.

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