Dear Ace: I never raked my leaves. Will I get in trouble?—Lee Z. Bones
Dear Lee: So you’re that guy on the block, huh? Lawn left unmowed, newspapers dating back to 1982 piled in the yard, broken beds on the porch, holiday decorations left up year-round? Well, no worries: Ace is on the beat. He just hopes you’ll get a chance to read this before you end up marooned inside your own house because a mound of unpaid bills blocks your only exit.
Good news: If you live in the county, you’re in the clear. According to Pat Mullaney, Albemarle County Parks and Recreation director, there are no County requirements on the removal of leaves from private property. So Lee, if you’re out in Albemarle and you want to leave leaf piles in your yard ‘til they form a rotting, wet blanket of blight and choke your lawn to death, Godspeed. If you’re a city dweller, however, it’s a little more complicated.
Barbara Ronan in the Charlottesville City Attorney’s Office tells Ace that a City ordinance on raking leaves says it’s O.K. if you keep your leaves completely in your yard and don’t intend to put them out for collection. As soon as the dead foliage spills out onto the sidewalk or into the street, however, you’re in trouble—and let’s face it, if you haven’t picked up a rake all season, your leaves are going to be spilling out onto the sidewalk and into the street. So when you finally do give in and get ‘em all piled up for the City to suck away, be careful that the piles themselves don’t extend far enough into the street to obstruct traffic or completely cover any length of sidewalk that might be in front of your house.
The city ordinance goes on to say that if you’re putting out leaves for city collection on any day between October 1 and January 31, you must leave them in uncontained piles on your curb. If you’re putting them out at any other time, however, you have to bag ‘em up. One positive note, though, Lee: the City won’t haul you away for leaves that spilleth over until they’ve warned you at least once through written notice. Good news for some of us, but it sounds like your written notice might just get lost in the shuffle.