Facebook page targets Atlanta’s property code violators

Kent D. Johnson, kdjohnson@ajc.com

Kent D. Johnson, kdjohnson@ajc.com

At 1727 S. Gordon St. in a southwest Atlanta, large sections of the brick home’s roof are caved in and noticeably rotted out.

At 750 Cascade Place also in southwest Atlanta, the abandoned apartment complex is now nearly hidden from the street due to overgrowth. On a new Facebook page dedicated to highlighting properties in violation of the city’s code compliance ordinances, one commenter called the building “a drug den and crash pad” for the homeless. Another asked, “Can somebody explain to me how this is allowed to continue…?”

The Facebook page, Atlanta Code Enforcement Problems, states upfront that it is “unofficial” and not connected with the city, but its purpose is clear: to give Atlantans a place to post photos and information about code enforcement violations and problem absentee property owners.

It’s not as if the city doesn’t know it has a problem, which has been made worse by a flood of foreclosures and absentee owners who either don’t have the money or refuse to spend it to bring the properties back up  to code.

On Thursday, the city demolished a longtime eyesore in southwest Atlanta, a privately owned abandoned Jewel Point complex at 2020 Allison Court. (An earlier version of this blog erroneously referred to the Wishing Well apartments, which were demolished last year).

Demolition of 2020 Allison Court was ordered in 2010 but it’s taken this long to prepare it for destruction due to asbestos removal and other challenges, including funding, officials said.

Last year, Mayor Kasim Reed put the city’s code enforcement under the direction of the Atlanta Police Department, which set out to eliminate more than 4,500 backlogged cases and deal with 1,200 inactive code enforcement cases.

“We understand the community’s frustration in wanting these properties demolished immediately upon the order being granted,” Maj. Cerelyn Davis, who heads the Code Enforcement Section, said in a statement on the Allison Court demolition. She said the APD assures citizens “we are moving forward on many similar properties.”

The Facebook page reflects the frustrations of residents who have to live near or pass by dilapidated structures, which police concede are not only eyesores that bring down already falling property values but also pose potential public health hazards, are havens for crime and erode the quality of life.

Many photos so far on the Facebook page are of properties in southwest Atlanta, like the boarded-up residence at 1616 Derry and the burned-out home at 1535 Beecher St. Some are abandoned construction projects that have either been stopped by the builder, like the home at 668 Lawton St, or by the city due to the lack of a building permit.

While the problem can’t be eliminated overnight, do you think the city is moving aggressively in dealing with dilapidated and abandoned properties, and wayward absentee owners?

69 comments Add your comment

Facebook page targets Atlanta

August 23rd, 2012
3:59 pm

Inhabitant

August 23rd, 2012
4:01 pm

I live here and I am still inside. Please get me out before demolishing.

Truth2012

August 23rd, 2012
4:04 pm

Did you know that 1 in every 16 black men now has HIV in America? Teaching your kids that every culture is not the same is more important than ever in todays world.

Shorter2012

August 23rd, 2012
4:17 pm

Shorter2012: I hate black people because I’m a racist.

Justin

August 23rd, 2012
4:21 pm

@Shorter2012

Grow up!

Christopher Seward

August 23rd, 2012
4:26 pm

Let’s stay on topic.

Tag

August 23rd, 2012
4:39 pm

It’s sad that these neighborhoods have not taken care of their homes.
I’m sure a lot of good people live there, but when so few care it hurts everyone.
The ones that let their properties decay will move to the next doomed area.

Bernie Matt

August 23rd, 2012
4:41 pm

Wonderful idea!

Big Question

August 23rd, 2012
4:50 pm

Why have Little 5, East Atlanta, Grant Park, the Old Forth Ward, Midtown and Virginia Highlands all been revived while the SW neighborhoods have fallen apart?

Droopy Drawers

August 23rd, 2012
4:53 pm

I voted for TPLOST. Why? Becuase of the belt line. Every African American deserves a belt.

casper09

August 23rd, 2012
5:10 pm

i recently purchase a property off milton ave near turned field i recently call my counsel person in that area and complained about the vacant housed and ignored streets where the grass had growned as high as the light polls in the area and her people reply to me was the city dont have the monies i left it at that but i inted on contacting the mayor office directly for one whern i go to buckhead nad virginia highlands you don;t see that problem there ireally feel the city isl lacking when it comes to neighborhoods with vacant houses and such with all the new development in atlanta i am just really upset with the city right now but we have to keep reminding them we are not gonna go away

El Guapper

August 23rd, 2012
6:07 pm

Shorter is a school for clowns who suffer a mid-life crises and go back to school to get a degree. Maybe I should start a FB page about those suckers.

Bernie

August 23rd, 2012
6:39 pm

Mayor Reed and his staff should know and something deep down tells me, that they do know. Very few residents South of I-20 have Facebook pages or even access to it. Those that are the most active viewers and users in the respective areas of concern are under the age of 23years old and certainly not home or property owners. possible property owners over 40years old are not regular Facebook users
therefore this action of city labor costs to posts is a waste. Someone should review a visit count to evaluate its worthiness in comparison to city labor costs.

One then would have to question who is the intended audience for such viewing?

Maybe to influence potential campaign donors?

Joe

August 23rd, 2012
6:41 pm

Inconvenient truth: “African-American” describes a nationality, not a race.

Christopher Seward

August 23rd, 2012
6:45 pm

As the blog points out, the Facebook page is neither produced by nor connected with the city.

Westview Resident

August 23rd, 2012
6:51 pm

I have to say, casper09 has some very valid points. As a resident of SW ATL, I find it very interesting that other intown neighborhoods, the ones with a greater tax base such as Inman Park, Va-Hi, etc., seem to receive fairly decent city services while those with a lesser tax base seem to languish. I truly take care of my property, as do many of my neighbors, but when we have a problem here such as overgrowth or deteriorating property, we get very little response. And don’t even think about asking to have your sidewalk repaired. The city’s response is to inform you that YOU are responsible for it, all the while sidewalks are repaired and replaced at the city’s cost in more northern neighborhoods. I’m not crying racism, but I am whispering classism. This may be the answer to Big Question’s question as to why very little revitalization has occurred in SW Atlanta; prospective residents probably don’t want to deal with the hassle that the SW ATL stigma brings when trying to deal with the city. Thankfully, Westview has a thriving neighborhood association, so there is a bit of strength in numbers.

Chris Murphy

August 23rd, 2012
6:54 pm

Problems with code enforcement are up, down and sideways. Despite Judge Jackson’s claim that he was hired to close cases, the only cases closed are those of responsible property owners. How can responsible owners end up in code court? It’s pretty easy: if you have a disgruntled neighbor, they can call in and have you cited for peeling paint, say. So the owner takes care of the problem, goes to court, gets fined and pays it and it’s over. Absentee owners just ignore the process, and Judge Jackson in all his imperial majesty doesn’t do a damn thing.

Jesus was officially the first zombie

August 23rd, 2012
6:54 pm

How about the Medical Arts building on Peachtree and Ralph McGill…..It\’s become a large urinal for the homeless.

Catgirl1968

August 23rd, 2012
7:39 pm

Ok Bernie. Apparently you don’t live in or know anyone who lives in any of these neighborhoods below I-20. I am over the age of 40 AND have a FB page AND live in Westview AND I am a property owner. There are many intelligent people who have seen the promise in reviving these neighborhoods. Many artists, architects, attorneys, etc. call these neighborhoods home and that’s just the professions that start with an A that I can think of off the top of my head. I know someone within 3 blocks of me that work in each of these professions. These are the last affordable neighborhoods in Atlanta that still have beautiful historic homes at rock bottom prices. We are just now gaining our voice and are taking on the city with the code enforcement problems. Our voices will be heard and this won’t be the last time you’ll hear them. These areas have a lot to offer, you just have to have the vision to see it. If you are looking through Buckhead glasses, you will never see the beauty.

Westview Resident

August 23rd, 2012
7:47 pm

Catgirl1968, that’s just the SW ATL stigma I was talking about. I love Westview and West End and hope to live down here for the rest of my life. In just the 3 years I’ve been here, the changes (for the better) that I’ve seen have been amazing. And these were changes that occurred by due diligence of our neighbors, mostly without ANY help from the city. So glad that you are happy here, too!

AB

August 23rd, 2012
8:15 pm

Casper, stay on your council persons a$$ and get your neighbors involved. There is power in numbers. Also it is a grass roots effort so you may have to do mowing and cleanups on a volunteer basis. Join your neighborhood association, it works. Don’t give up!

Dee

August 23rd, 2012
8:24 pm

Here in Virginia-Highland, sidewalk repairs here are the responsibility of the home owners, too. The city’s policy is that sidewalks that were built by the city are maintained by the city, but sidewalks that were built by private developers (in our case, decades ago) are the responsibility of the homeowner.

Beltiline is a waste

August 23rd, 2012
8:26 pm

Why put code enforcement in the jurisdiction of APD? The beltline’s Brian Leary could have written off all of expenses and had a great time doing it. Just send him a bottle of wine, pay a parking ticket or two, some dry cleaning and swanky places to stay on the tax payer’s dime. Brian Leary for mayor! Perhaps the single dumbest hire by an incompetant mayor.

Richard Simmons

August 23rd, 2012
8:34 pm

It seems some people imply racism when it simply isn’t the case. I’ve often been amazed at people in Atlanta crying “racism!” when 98% of the city government, including most all of those in top power positions, and a vast majority of the police force are all African-American. So, if the “Northern neighborhoods” get better services, don’t blame the white folks!

Fulton

August 23rd, 2012
8:44 pm

“This may be the answer to Big Question’s question as to why very little revitalization has occurred in SW Atlanta”

Very little revitalization has occurred in SW Atlanta compared to the other parts not because of race or class it’s simply a matter of property taxes. How are you going to pay property taxes for city services when you are receiving unemployment, disabilty (another name for unemploymen)t, food stamps, etc, etc, etc? I say strike a match like Sherman did.

Just sayin

August 23rd, 2012
8:50 pm

“Also you may have to do mowing and cleanups on a volunteer basis”.

Well I hate to say it but that rules out some of the southsiders. They won’t even work for money.

Rocky

August 23rd, 2012
8:55 pm

Get President Obama to take care of the sidewalks. Whats an extra Million or even Billion when you spend a Trillion dollars a year?

Walter Little, Jr.

August 23rd, 2012
8:56 pm

“Fulton” I hope you’re joking about “strike a match like Sherman did”. If you’re not, please do all of us who live in the southwest portion of the city a favor and turn yourself in to the police with the explanation that you encouraged others to commit arson.

Chris Murphy

August 23rd, 2012
9:07 pm

@Westside: the rest of the city doesn’t get any more services than SW does (nor the SE, where I live, either). Like I mentioned min my earlier post, the code enforcement only on responsive owners. Going after the deadbeats would require energy and expertise, and the city gov’t isn’t overflowing with either.

Westview Resident

August 23rd, 2012
9:07 pm

Fulton, city resources are not meant to be distributed based upon neighborhood tax base. Also, I pay my property taxes, receive no government aid, and even have a (lucrative) job. In fact, I paid cash for my house. Perhaps I should find out where you live and advocate burning your house down. And Richard Simmons, I said specifically that I wasn’t crying racism. Thanks for the info, Dee. We have sidewalks that were built by the city, but are not maintained.

Westview Resident

August 23rd, 2012
9:10 pm

Chris Murphy has a good point.

JASon

August 23rd, 2012
9:33 pm

“Facebook page targets ATL eyesores”

I thought this was referring to any number of disgusting buildings in the city
-the terminus building
-1180 peachtree
-any building built by the novare group

way to go Atlanta

Atl abandoned

August 23rd, 2012
10:00 pm

First code enforcement in Atlanta is a joke…. They lie about how quickly they respond to complaints. Second, wealthy areas get completely different services. This would never happen in vahi / inman park.
Reynoldstown, edgewood, cabbage town and grant park get poor service but I can only imagine how Terrible it is in sw

Atl abandoned

August 23rd, 2012
10:05 pm

Finally, I think there is a lot to be said about demolishing whole areas of Atlanta. For instance 30310. There are great people there, but there are tons of abandoned homes as well. Personally I think that this crisis presents an opportunity that may never come again. It would be very cheap to purchase all of that zip code. Tear everything down, completely redo. Make it an area for office parks, give special tax breaks for companies there. Redo the streets the layout, everything. Of course create affordable dignified housing so you don’t displace people…. But build a new area that is safe, that has economic opportunities, that is a 21st city. We are a Phoenix but the Phoenix has to burn to be reborn…. And it has been a long time since anything has burned.

O4W

August 23rd, 2012
10:08 pm

No neighborhood is immune from this problem. The Old 4th Ward still has its share of eyesores, Irwin St in particular.

There's a sickness in GA

August 23rd, 2012
10:29 pm

@Atl Abandonded Even VAHI has a few houses like on this. Difference is people don’t wait for the city to mow the laws and trim the bushes, they do it themselves. And they certainly don’t put up with squatters

Kevin

August 24th, 2012
12:08 am

Citizens should occupy VaHi and Inman Park and demand their sidewalks and green lawns be moved to SW Atlanta! After all, VaHi people didn’t build those homes and they’re not paying their fair share.

Whew. That took some effort, but I think I got all Obama’s points into one paragraph.

Julie

August 24th, 2012
6:38 am

I looked at the page, some of the problems can be easily resolved, like the homeowner of renter, who left furniture and trash on the front lawn. Try hauling it off to the local dump. If said person doesn’t have a way to get it there, then pay someone to do it for the person. I paid someone to haul off an old sofa once, instead of leaving it at the complex dumpster. It cost me a whooping $50.

Default Settings 2.0

August 24th, 2012
7:11 am

There should be a statewide contest to see which municipalities have the best blight.

Adair Park Resident

August 24th, 2012
8:23 am

I truly forgot how racist and backwards some Georgians can be. The conditions in SW Atlanta are not much different than the conditions in rural North and South Georgia – except the houses are closer together. I have been all over the rural areas of GA, and have seen some pretty crappy trailers with junk all around them, multiple rusted cars, etc. Its not race, its class.

I live in southwest Atlanta. I am white. We have over 140 people in our neighborhood Facebook group. We have teachers, police officers, business professionals, artists and more living in our neighborhood. Many of us selected this area for low housing costs and for diversity. Do we have crime? Sure. Vacant homes? Sure. Blight? Sure. Unemployed lazies? Sure. But we have banded together to fight back. We do cleanups, we have neighbors that board up empty homes, we do our part. The city doesn’t appear to want to go after banks though, they just throw up a placard for a violation and walk away for a few months.

I guess it is easier, and the Georgia way, to remove anything historical and start over. And to make sweeping general statements when you obviously know nothing about the area. There are a lot of people here trying to make this a better place to live. But hey, you are right, let’s torch the cool historical homes with huge front porches and 100 year old oak trees. Let’s clear cut the entire area and build cookie cutter homes right up against each other.

I have no issue with VA HI, Inman Park, Grant Park, East Atlanta, Candler Park, etc. They have some beautiful homes. Took some of those neighborhoods awhile to get to where they are. Southwest Atlanta is rebuilding after the rampant mortgage fraud.

And to the moron wanting to build office parks. Um, don’t you realize we have enough as it is? We have buildings downtown and midtown that are not full. I worked in Alpharetta for awhile, and there were buildings there not full. Why build more? Again, the Georgia way. Keep building until you can’t build any more. Condos, lofts, houses, office parks, strip malls, etc.

jerome

August 24th, 2012
8:52 am

African-American neighborhoods in atlanta don’t get the same services that rich white neighborhoods get, causing them to go down. I’m tired of this–I may move back to New Jersey next year if I can find a job.

mb

August 24th, 2012
9:00 am

To all of you who think the city gives preferential treatment to the “wealthier areas,” think again. I live in a solidly middle class section of Buckhead with homes that are approaching 100 years old. Yes, we have code enforcement issues, too. No, the city does nothing to help us out. Yes, we have sidewalk problems, too. No, the city does not repair them. Neighbors pickup trash, mow lawns, cut back vegetation, and clear away debris from property of absentee property owners. We take responsibility for our own neighborhoods and don’t wait around for government to take care of us! We hire contractors on our own dime to fix broken sidewalks for pedestrians, strollers, and wheelchairs, while our high tax dollars are wasted. So, stop complaining about not getting your fair share and fix up your own neighborhoods!!

Angus

August 24th, 2012
9:04 am

In lieu of Mr. Murphy’s posts:

http://blogs.ajc.com/food-and-more/2012/08/24/police-raid-food-truck-wednesday-in-virginia-highland/?cxntlid=thbz_hm

Food trucks are easy targets/money – negligent property owners are not.

Whirled Peas

August 24th, 2012
9:13 am

Christopher Seward, stay on topic. This column is called the Biz Beat and so I click here to get the business news. We are having an economic meltdown in Europe, the US has a $16 trillion debt and 9% unemployment, 40 cents of every dollar the feds spend is borrowed money, people trying to retire on their life savings find they get 1% interest on their money. There are 100 interesting business topics to talk about.. this country is in a finanacial mess, but you feel the need to report on Atlanta property code violators.
Seems to me that you are the one off topic.

Casandra

August 24th, 2012
9:48 am

Maybe another Olympic bid will get every thing cleaned up in eye shot of the camera and visitors cleaned up for a minute.

Sick and Tired of the Racial Argument

August 24th, 2012
9:55 am

I live in Buckhead and (GASP) we have the same issues. Suspend your disbelief for a moment, but the city is not at our beck-and-call. Guess what folks – we adopt our parks from the city and maintain them with our time and our money, take our own lawn mowers, gloves, and weeders and take care of vacant over-grown lots, and we pick up trash littered in our roads and sidewalks ourselves. I’m tired of ignorant racist individuals claiming that it’s a white/black neighborhood issue. The city is NOT taking care of our neighborhood, the neighbors are!

If you are so concerned about the overgrown vacant property next to you then take out your own lawn mower and mow it. Too much effort? Then, head down to your friendly home improvement store and buy some industrial strength weed killer and dowse it, but stop sitting on your arse complaining that it’s someone else’s problem.

huntersdad

August 24th, 2012
9:57 am

I think it is funny that we can build a billion dollar stadium we don’t need, but cannot get rid of these eyesores because we don’t have the money.

know what?

August 24th, 2012
10:09 am

You plant corn, you get corn.

In Rem Hater

August 24th, 2012
10:16 am

A big part of the problem in Atlanta is that the In Rem Board does not meet regularly. They have the power to get these houses torn down, but they monthly meeting is often cancelled due to lack of quorum.

The city almost always says there is an asbestos issue or there needs to be an asbestos inspection, but a lot of the homes not in such disrepair were built well after asbestos was banned from building products in the US. A lot of these homes were built in the early 2000s and have no asbestos issues. It does seem to be a way to get a contractor paid though.

Christopher Seward

August 24th, 2012
10:24 am

I would argue property ownership and the forces that impact the value of that property are important topics in any discussion about the economy.