Props to the city and the APD for being responsive and cleaning up blight within 2 weeks of my reporting it to CM Russo’s office: a broken down truck with a camper shell and a tarp over it parked in someone’s yard (not even in a driveway). It’d been there for at least 5 years. So I’m wondering why, if this is illegal—to have broken down cars on a property in front of the house forever—, that the APD doesn’t regularly initiate these sorts of clean-ups on their own? If they did, we’d know the city cares about the conditions we live next to, right? So why hasn’t the city cared until now? Evidence: in my neighborhood there have been several broken down cars for years with tarps over them and they have never been required to be moved, until now. Until I complained.
Maybe it’s all the blighted front yards we all have to view in our West End neighborhoods and that everyone drives past. That’s right: far too many West Enders really don’t care….the evidence is in the number of front yards left to overgrown weeds, trash, and trash containers.
Now, I’m not asking for upscale landscaping, just a neat clean yard, litter-free, ... with hidden trash containers with working vehicles parked in driveways (not yards). Failing this—and in some West End neighborhoods most of the properties do in one or more ways—conveys to the city that we simply don’t care; so why should they?
The city’s behavior towards the West End is consistent with West Enders’ own behavior. That’s right: West Enders themselves—-homeowners and rental property owners alike—have created a city-wide tolerance for blight in the West End.
It’s our responsibility as residents to change this.
Daily: clean up your front yard, sidewalks, and street-tree strip from trash and cigarette butts that the night time denizens tossed into your space the night before (you know they do this regularly). Be sure to call the APD if you wake up to find drug paraphernalia or gang tags (non-emergency APD line is 510-337-8340).
Weekly: keep your front yard swept, trimmed, and mowed, or whatever it takes to keep it neat. Show the city we care and we want them to too.
Change your behavior: if you have off-street parking spaces and/or garages, use them. This might even save a life: it makes it easier for the APD to do their job and for ambulances to arrive on scene when needed.
Report blight: Call the non-emergency APD line (510-337-8340) and ask them to do what they can to clean it up the problems that you’re seeing in your neighborhood. Send the message that we want them to prioritize this too. And contact a landlord or property management firm and demand better property maintenance; then follow up in writing, restating your complaint(s).
1. It will lower crime rates: neater front yards and fewer cars parked on the streets lowers crime…and might even save a life: it makes it far easier for the APD to do their work and the ambulances to arrive on scene when needed.
2. The city will start paying attention and help by enforcing laws that will cause those contributing to blight, to stop doing so. This is an interdependent two-way street between the city government and the residents to effect our own improved quality of living.
3. Maintaining a nice front yard is simply better for ourselves and for everyone around us.
If we keep our own front yards neat and report egregious problems we are seeing in our own neighborhoods, then the city and the APD will know this matters to us.
One neat front yard leads to two, which leads to four, and so forth. Pretty soon we have an entire West End with neat front yards and lower crime rates. And those few minutes every weekend? Well, getting out into the front yard makes a difference: you’d be amazed the interesting conversations that transpire. I learn a lot about my neighbors, what’s important to them and their communities, and our city as a whole. It’s the kind of relationships and information that can lead to better knowledge about one’s city, informed voting, and improved government.
Note to APD: it’d be awesome if our nighttime patrol cars could have a lookout for cars parked overnight on front yards/lawns/dirt and ticket them. Thanks!