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Should landscape maintenance be regulated?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by Critical Care, Sep 26, 2005.

  1. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,654

    How do you feel about having landscape maintenance state regulated? How about requiring people who perform landscape maintenance to be licensed through an exam process? And how about requiring landscape maintenance businesses to be bonded and insured?

    The following is a link to House Bill 2391 introduced by the Oregon Landscape Contractors Association that would have put landscape maintenance under state control of the Landscape Contractors Board. This would have been interesting if it had passed, but it failed. Imagine how many John Doe maintenance outfits would have been affected, requiring them to employ a licensed landscape maintenance contractor as well as having a licensed landscape maintenance business license.

    Landscape Maintenance HB 2391
  2. GreenUtah

    GreenUtah LawnSite Senior Member
    from SLC, UT
    Posts: 866

    Can't imagine why that failed <smirk>. Seriously, someone so far overstepped anything even remotely realistic with that bill, even in Oregon where this sort of thing has the greatest chance of passing(I'm still not used to not being able to pump gas there). It would have been interesting for sure, but it would have been much more realistic if they approached it by limiting the scope. For instance, say it was just regarding those that worked on publicly funded projects or along waterways, something not quite so broad. Much more likely to clear away objections by limiting scope. Then you establish a precedent to build on and slowly work toward that goal. Instead, they shot their whole wad upfront and made a grab for the power to control the market. That's the sort of thing that would make everyone pucker...baby steps.
  3. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,654

    Well, this came as a surprise, and since it would have had huge repercussions on thousands of people it doesn't surprise me that it didn't pass. It would have created a lot of headaches for people. But why regulate landscape maintenance in the first place? I honestly don’t know if it would be good, or bad.

    This bill may have been just an effort to assimilate the maintenance industry into the same framework that we, the contractors, must adhere to. There are current laws that regulate the extent of what a landscape maintenance person or company can do, however, many maintenance operators overstep these boundaries. This problem isn’t uncommon, though I wouldn’t call it all-out pandemonium. Would regulating maintenance harness this problem?

    What’s an interesting analogy to this is how the Federal Communications Commission handled one problem years ago. The Citizens Band (CB) was originally set up for specific short range business use, such as from base to mobile communications. People used callsigns and everything was in order… for a while. But along came the 10-4 good buddy trucker era, ionospheric skip conditions, and then total chaos. The only thing that the FCC could do was to step back and let the swarm take over.

    GreenUtah, you have an interesting thought there about the baby steps approach. FWIW, the Marine Board of Oregon began phasing in that all people operating motorized boats over 10hp – be required to pass a written safety test. They’re phasing this in by age groups. Hmm… “All landscape maintenance operators under 20 years of age must be licensed by 2007, 30 by 2008…”
  4. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Posts: 4,205

    And who's going to keep an eye on the "landscape contractors board" ????

    Isn't government in our shorts enough?
  5. sildoc

    sildoc LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,925

    Talking with one of the old men that work for the LCB as Point Comand Checking, said that it would most likely come back around reformed to a point. He specifically stated that regulations in fert and pesticide would be a major area that will be reformed. He couldn't tell me time frame as of yet but said it would be in the next 5-10 years. He also stated that in such will keep out illeagals to which are taking over here in the southern portion of Oregon.
    It would not surprise me if the gov of Oregon would pass this to pull in more revenue from small businesses. Can you imagine at a 50 dollar fee x well over 5000 LCO's would pull in a small fortune with a minimal amount of work.

    This specific bill was what pushed me to working on my LCB instead of waiting for a while.
  6. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,654

    Well, yes and no. Having jumped through all of the hoops to get my contractors license, I don't mind having some enforcement to keep things legal. Oh yeah, there's limits, things are always changing, and I don't always agree with what is etched in stone.

    And Sildoc, it wouldn't surprise me at all if the use of all pesticides, even non restricted types, becomes totally reserved for licensed applicators. Other states are more restrictive, but I'd guess that this would fall under the Oregon Dept. of Agriculture, rather than the LCB. Oh yeah, if that bill would have passed it could have generated quite a bit of revenue, but at the same time new expenditures would offset some of that.

    $50 fee? Gosh, I wish that was all that I had to worry about.
  7. sildoc

    sildoc LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,925

    Don't get me wrong. I just threw a number up at which they would start. I know after paying LCB board for Contractors license and then for landscape business license it gets pretty expensive. Not to mention the bond and other misc expences.
    To one point I think the test would be rather easy. The one good thing about it would be that my rates on the maintenance side could go way up. Reason is that it would get rid of all the illeagals running if there were any enforcement at all. Keep Joe Blow from starting up a small business out of whim.
  8. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,654

    Would your rates go up for maintenance? I'd imagine that it would be next to impossible for the LCB to police the whole maintenance industry. Competition would still be fierce, and having a license doesn't automatically mean that you can charge more. For example, last week I was handing out flyers for blowing out irrigation systems, $45 for four zones with $5 per each additional zone, but some company in town was offering four zones for $25 within subdivisions. Beats my price. So, what can you do other than to lower your price?
  9. sildoc

    sildoc LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,925

    Where we are a intencely growing community such as yourself there in bend it would weed out half of the small companies. Most of the small guys here(I put myself there) are not willing to go the extra mile to take the next step in thier business. (thus is why I am looking more towards the Landscape side instead of the maintenance side) This would take roughly half of what is out there and also limit the new guys starting up. Thus the guy charging a cheap price will fill up fast allowing us that know what we are worth and what the market will bear to charge a higher price. It will also allow those larger companies to up their price and make it more competitive for me to make a living on a decent wage.
    One guy here has almost 3 blocks locked up roughly 180 houses, I have 2 in the area and charge 2x what he is getting. He gets 60 a month for full service roughly 200 sq ft houses. I get 115 a month for the same services. His guys are lacking. He cant micro manage them because he has to work also becase he is not making as much. I have told him a hundred times that he needs to raise his rates but he is timid and will not do so as to loose a few customers. I said raise 25 percent and will increas his income, his income 70-90 thousand a year. Just one day. He wont. That is why I say that it will allow a definte increase in cost to the customer.
    Now Like you say just like regulating the Landscapers for being leagal it will be hard but it will also get out that some guys get fines and that will curb others from not being legal.
    We are far from saturated with all the californians coming in but it would be nice not to have to drive all over hell to get a decent clientel.
  10. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,654

    Well, lets put it this way. I don't think that a licensing program would weed out half of the maintenance companies. Some would take that little extra step and comply with the new regulations, a whole lot would continue to operate just as before, and then some would merge with other maintenance operators and to form larger licensed maintenance companies. Bottom line is that one way or another most would still be out there doing work.

    I mentioned this one company that is charging $25 for blowing out irrigation systems, but I didn't mention that the company is fairly large and has been around for a while. Its not one of these hole-in-the-wall outfits. Larger companies don't always raise their prices, but as in this case may undercut others. And you know the sad thing about this is that the typical J. Doe client is primarily focused upon price rather than quality. License or no license, this cutthroat game goes on. By the way, just now a fellow called up and asked about blowing out his irrigation system. I dropped down to $40 for four zones but I could tell that, again, price was the bottom line. "Do you offer senior discounts?" I told him that I was a senior, and probably should have mentioned that he surely has more money in the bank than me. “I’ll think about it,” was his reply.

    Sildoc, I sure wouldn't mind having a three block maintenance route servicing 180 homes, but for $60 a month??? That price is roughly what my basic lawn care rates are for postage stamp size lawns in trailer parks. For $60 bucks a month, what service does this guy offer?

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