Military officials urge residents to go the extra yard in caring for housing
August 26, 2010
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Troops planning to move into a military housing unit in Kaiserslautern better be prepared to weed, edge, mulch, trim, mow, water and seed – or risk an eviction notice.
The Air Force recently adopted a “three strikes and you’re out” policy for base housing residents at Landstuhl, Ramstein and Vogelweh after leaders noticed people were “getting lax” in complying with family housing standards, said Karen Leonard, Kaiserslautern military community housing director.
“It’s not just about appearances. It’s about maintaining the investment that’s been made by the Air Force in these houses,” Leonard said.
The Air Force has spent more than $800 million over the last five years to build 655 town homes and renovate 225 stairwell apartment units in the Kaiserslautern area in an effort to improve housing quality and create a base community that residents can take pride in, Air Force civil engineering officials said.
“We want to make sure everybody is doing their part,” Leonard said.
Doing one’s part means some serious yard work:
Grass must be kept between 2 and 4 inches in height.Shrubs must be trimmed and kept from growing over curbs, sidewalks or through fencing.No weeds in sidewalk cracks and no debris next to the curb.Oil spots in driveways and parking areas must be cleaned.Patches of dead grass aren’t allowed and must be reseeded and watered daily.And that’s just a partial list.
Housing inspectors perform weekly inspections on about 1,600 units in the area and issue violations to those not up to standard. Upon receiving a first warning, residents have five days to fix the problem or face a second warning. Failure to comply could mean a third warning and eventual termination of on-base housing privileges, officials said.
Most common infractions are weeds in mulched areas and in sidewalk cracks, lack of mulch in planting areas, and shrubs growing over sidewalks, said Ron Uecker, Kaiserslautern military community housing facilities chief.
Since mid-July, the housing office has issued 159 first notices and seven second notices.
No one has been asked to leave yet, but base officials know they won’t have any trouble filling vacant homes, if it comes to that. Unlike some overseas military communities, base housing in Kaiserslautern is much desired for its proximity to schools, shopping and work stations.
“We have hundreds and hundreds of people who want to live on base,” Leonard said of the waiting list for base housing. “It’s not a right to live on base housing – it is a privilege."
Upkeep can be a chore on top of regular duties, said Staff Sgt. Gordon Hicks, an Air Force computer systems administrator.
As the building leader of Building 1146 on Vogelweh, Hicks is responsible for ensuring the facility meets standards. In the past, before the stricter housing policy existed, “it was not kept, to be honest.”The building recently earned “stairwell of the month” in a new housing incentive program that also recognizes town home yards for maintaining standards. Winners receive an Army and Air Force Exchange Service coupon book worth $170.Hicks said his building residents picked up grass seed and other gardening supplies from the base self-help store to spruce up their place.“Once you get it there, it’s not so bad” to maintain, he firstname.lastname@example.org