An artist and home renter in the city of Phoenix's Sunnyslope neighborhood claims the city is forcing her to remove canvas art paintings from her front yard because they are considered blight.
Susan Applegate started painting at 7 years old. For the past two years, though, she's been locked in a battle with City Hall over a variety of code violations on the property she rents.
"They can't see a work of art in progress. So it's up to them to name it what they do. And they call it blight, rubble, debris, outside storage," Applegate said.
"The neighbors are saying the condition of the property is hurting their property values and it's creating blight in their neighborhood," said Tim Boling, deputy director of the city of Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department.
Applegate believes a city judge will decide what on the property is considered art and what is considered blight.
"They couldn't possibly be correct because I'm right. They can't win. I feel like Charlie Sheen. Winning!" said Applegate with a laugh. "It's freedom of speech."
It turns out, city officials say they have no intention of infringing on Applegate's freedom of speech. Boling says Applegate is mistaken in saying that her art display is a violation of city code.
"It's not a violation to express free speech on your property," Boling said. "The city of Phoenix has not cited the tenant for any of the items she determines to be art on her property."
The code violations Applegate is being cited for include excessive shrubbery and dead vegetation in her yard, including palm fronds and other items.
"Trash, debris, dead and dried vegetation on the property," Boling said.
Applegate has until March 26 to get things cleaned up and bring the property up to code standards or the city will hire someone to do it for her and send her the bill.
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