Sunday, May 24, 2009

311 Working Overtime On Overgrown Yards At Vacant North Minneapolis Houses...

Photo By John Hoff

Calling 311 to report overgrown lawns at vacant houses is like eating potato chips. You can't stop at JUST ONE. A few days ago, I was walking to the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council offices, and all along my route I called in one in-excess-of-8-inches weedy address after another. It took me...

...about four times as long as it should have to get to my destination, because 311 can't write a report THAT fast. I think I called in about two dozen yards...and that was just walking from Point A To Point B, and then back along a different I could find more weedy yards.

While I was at it, I called in some graffiti, some brush piles, and (my arcane favorite) a couple houses without visible house numbers. (That's a violation, you know) 

Frankly, if any of the houses looked OCCUPIED, I would have turned a blind eye, at least when the yard is merely 8 inches. But since vacant properties are mostly bank-owned foreclosures, heck, who cares? Call 'em all in. It's not like they've posted contact information on the exterior, at least 95 percent of the time. If they did, I'd consider calling that number instead of 311, but most of the time they don't. 

I'm not sure what my all-time record is for 311 reports in a day, but I racked up plenty that day. Recently, a high-ranking public official told me the INITIAL grass complaint call is the most important, because that call triggers a sort of official watchfulness over the house as far as keeping the lawn mowed. This public official has ALSO been turning the phone lines red hot, calling in one overgrown vacant lawn after another.

My feeling is this summer is very important to the future of NoMi, that potential home buyers are descending on our neighborhood in the lovely summer, looking for bargains, looking for the place where they will bring future babies--future residents of NoMi--across the threshold of their doors. Therefore, anything watchful neighbors can do to "spiff up" helps make a good impression including--if it comes down to it--cutting the lawns ourselves.

I have a great lawnmower on loan at the moment. And there's this one house....grrrrrrr.

I'm thinking about it. I'm thinking about it really hard. And, under the Minneapolis City Government "adopt vacant properties" mandate, it is apparently perfectly OK to cut that grass rather than see our city spend a small fortune to have it done by professionals.

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