Sunday, August 1, 2010
3019 4th St. North FINALLY boarded
Photos and blog post by Hans
While investigating a strange noise a few weeks ago I noticed a vacant property that looked like it needed a call to 311. Vinyl records were strewn across the backyard and many windows were broken. I checked the back door and Lo and Behold...
it was unlocked... making this property Open To Trespass and in need of boarding. While standing in the rear entryway I noticed an open/broken window in the kitchen, presumably where entrance was gained. I also noticed a refrigerator that was plugged in and it looked like the criminal had some leftover Wendy's stashed in the fridge. I wanted to check out the rest of the house to see what other damage had been done, but considering that I didn't own the building I figured I didn't have much justification to investigate further (but really I just didn't want to bump into a group of squatters).
I unplugged the fridge and pushed it in front of the window, locked the door on my way out and promptly called 311 to report the situation. I also called Xcel Energy to report electricity use at an abandoned property (one of the meters was still turning even after I unplugged the fridge).
A week went by and nothing seemed to change, except that the fridge was no longer in front of the window and the door wasn't locked anymore. So I made another call to 311 to inquire about the status of this 'open to trespass' property.
A few days later I called 311 again and was told that an order to board the building had been issued and would be completed 'soon'.
I patiently waited for 'soon' to come around, but the house still wasn't boarded a week later. Again I called 311 and this time the operator made an attempt to escalate the case, whatever that means. More time passed and still no boards on the doors or windows. I made a fifth call to 311 and was again told the order to board had been issued, but at least this time the operator was confused as to why the house hadn't been boarded yet.
FINALLY, a few days ago I received a call from a number I didn't recognize. When I answered a friendly 311 operator told me that the house at 3019 4th St. North had been boarded that morning. I wish it hadn't taken as long as it did, but at least Minneapolis has a system in place for normal folks like myself to get problems in their neighborhood addressed.
Thank you 311!
But now I digress...
Sometimes I feel bad calling 311 excessively about one particular property. I wonder if I'm wasting the city's money and employee's time by hounding them about one particular issue that doesn't get fixed right away. I understand there are legal procedures that must be followed and often property owners have several days or weeks to address the problem before the city does the work and bills the owner for it. However, in this case I doubt that 3019 would have been boarded by now if I had not called 311 several times. How did I reach this conclusion?
I give you 2917 4th St. North:
I called in the condition of this house on the same day I called about 3019... but I didn't make any follow up calls. As of today, 2917 4th is still open to trespass (although I doubt anyone would squat in that burned out stink-pile of a structure).