As a follow-up to the article about blight in yesterday's Rep-Am, I'm posting some photographs and comments about the two properties next to mine. They are both on Oak Street--one at the corner and the other next to it.
First up, the building on the corner. There is a mini-grocery store on the first floor, apartments on the upper two floors. Behind the building is a small driveway with a dumpster for cardboard only--but it is not marked as such, so people sometimes put garbage in it. The driveway runs alongside my front yard.
As you can see, the property owner and the store owner make no effort to cut back the weeds. The only time the weeds get cut back is when I or another neighbor complain to the city. Which happens several times a year.
The weeds hide the garbage that is strewn about the property, but when the weather is dry and the wind blows, the garbage moves to my yard.
Seriously, they do not clean up. They must see the weeds and garbage when they put their cardboard in the dumpster, but they never clean up around the dumpster. Every time I complain, they are given three days to clean up. They do the bare minimum cleanup, and then we wait a few months for it to get bad again. This is an extremely frustrating cycle, like beating your head against a rock wall. Why should I have to waste my time complaining again and again about exactly the same thing? Why should the city waste its resources again and again for exactly the same thing? Shouldn't there be stiffer penalties for repeat offenders? Stop giving the same people the same warning. Slap them with a fine and require that they attend some sort of class to teach them how and why to clean their property.
Here's the view beyond the dumpster into the next yard, which is an even worse problem. They did cut down the weeds between the two properties so that people can walk through. Ironically, they don't shovel the snow from the sidewalk in the winter, and right now their weeds are partially blocking the sidewalk.
Beer bottles, wood slats, plastic cups, motor oil containers, roofing material, and sometimes feces. This has been going on for years and the city is completely incapable of doing anything about it.
Moving on to the next property, here's the view from my upstairs window. The vulgar graffiti on the ground is new. There are a couple of new items on the wood pile that are also new. Everything else has been there for at least a year.
This property was fine when I bought my house four years ago. But at about the same time, this property was purchased by an absentee landlord. According to the city, she lives in New York, so they can't do anything to force her to clean up her property.
The only work I've seen done on the property in four years was the blocking off of the building's back door. I guess the landlord did that because she wants to pretend there is no backyard. Earlier this summer, I saw whoever she hired to clean out the vacant second floor apartment take a bag full of garbage, open it up out the back window, dump the contents onto the ground, then take the empty bag back inside.
I showed the filth to an official from the Health Department at the beginning of June. He agreed that it was unacceptable. The last thing I heard was that the warrant (I assume that's what it is) was in the hands of the State Marshall. That was on July 6. The only thing that has happened since then is that more garbage has piled up.
The fence dividing our properties has a four-year-deep pile of leaves and litter on their side. It also has weeds and numerous trees starting to grow, which lean over my property and threaten to destroy the fence.
It is clear to me that the city is impotent. The current "system" for dealing with blight is useless and a total waste of money and people. When faced with a property like this one, the city should be able to send its own workers in to clean it up, then place a lien on the property to cover the cost of the cleanup. Maybe there's another option that will also be effective. There has to be a better way that what we're doing now.