July 19, 2001 11:00 pm

Wed like to sugarcoat it, but we really cant. Once again, we are tired and frustrated with the way many property owners in La Grande have decided to let their lots get tackier and tackier.

You say, why should anyone care? Its the right of every property owner to do as he pleases. That just isnt the case when you live in a city. Everyone has an obligation to keep his property up to a minimum standard: a level that reflects community pride.

Take a walk along Fourth Street between N and Washington avenues and youll see many examples of neglected property.

Four weeks after a windstorm blew through

La Grande and caused a portion of a large tree to fall on power lines, portions of that tree remain in the yard and along the parking strip. Why hasnt the city demanded that this eyesore and potential danger be removed immediately?

Only a block away is a vacant lot that once housed a car wash. For years, patrons of the city library and some of the surrounding businesses have used the lot, even though the owners lives outside of La Grande. Weeds grow along the parking strips and across the lot. The sidewalks are breaking up as massive tree roots push upward.

During the fall, the leaves from the trees fill neighbors yards as the wind carries them about. In the winter, snow and ice are never cleaned off the sidewalks. Why hasnt the city demanded the lot be cleaned up and fenced off? Neighborhood children ride their bikes and play basketball on the property. When will someone fall and injure himself? Who will be liable?

Just down the street and next to the Methodist Church sits some apartments where the owner recently had two tall birches cut down because they were diseased. After the trees were removed, the stumps were chipped, but the chips were not removed. For several weeks now the chips have slowly worked their way onto the public sidewalks, making an even bigger mess and eyesore. Will this mess ever be cleaned?

Only a block away, toward Washington Avenue, a corner lot has become a weed garden. As pedestrians walk along the sidewalk, they must walk single file or brush up against the weeds. Trees also come over the sidewalk. As summer temperatures increase, this area has all the makings for a good fire. What does it take from the city to get these weeds cut down every month?

Finally, just down the street from this lot is the vacated Dragon Garden restaurant. Along the parking strip, weeds are approaching 2 feet high, while a row of shrubs is leaning into the sidewalk area.

Where is community pride? How much effort does it take to remove a fallen tree, clean up a parking lot, replace bulging sidewalks, remove fallen leaves (in the fall), clear snow, remove wood chips or mow down a sea of weeds?

Fourth Street, of course, is not the only area in La Grande that shows major neglect. Whether the city forces these property owners to act or the owners clean things up on their own, some positive action is needed. And theres no better time than now to start.