Blight

I drive down my city streets and I am mostly embarrassed by what I see:

  • Long boarded up buildings covered in graffiti and overgrown weeds
  • Piles of rubble
  • Muddy roads where streets used to be
  • Pot holes that will swallow your car
  • Day laborers on every corner
  • Opportunists trying every car door as they walk down the street
  • And so much more

This isn’t the city I grew up in.  This is a city that nobody cares about any more.

The roller skating rink closed down when I was a kid.  The property wasn’t sold, leased or redeveloped in any way.  It was left vacant for almost 20 years.  Each year it looked a little sadder, a little droopier, a little more neglected.  Inevitably squatters came in and set fires in garbage cans to keep themselves warm at night.  Three years ago it burned down.  There has been a pile of rubble in its place since then.

The bowling alley closed down about 5 or 6 years ago.  It’s not that it wasn’t turning a profit, it’s just that the original owner gave it to his son who decided that he didn’t want to “bother” with it any more.  He tried to sell the building and the land.  It has been vacant ever since.  Well, vacant if you ignore the prostitutes, drug dealers and vagrants who call that property their home base.

I often wonder if I’m looking back at the city I grew up in with rose colored glasses.  You know how it is: things were always better “back then.”  But then I see pictures of the way it used to be even just a few years ago and I know that my rose colored glasses theory is a fallacy.  Things really were better back then.

I know I don’t have all the answers, but I do wonder why our city doesn’t do more to address the problem of blight.  The city’s leaders claim they want to bring business and people to our community but I don’t see them doing anything to attract either group.  If I were to open a business, I probably wouldn’t open one here.  Why would I open a business in a community that doesn’t care enough about itself to look nice?  If I were to buy a house, I definitely wouldn’t do it here.  With all the rowdy people living in my neighborhood, crazy people, and the murders (can’t forget about those) I wouldn’t want to make my life here.

The people in a community have to want a better life for themselves too.  I say this, because I know that there’s only so much the leaders can do.  But I do believe that our leaders need to lead.  They need to get the ball rolling because most lay people see all this ugliness and despair as too big to handle.  If you lead, the people will follow.

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2 Comments

  1. I would start with fining the hell out of the building/property owners for the blight. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be getting $500+ a month in fines from the bowling alley alone, eventually the property owners will do something one way or another. Harsh, but they have had 5 years and this isn’t residence.

    The revenue there alone can help a school or put another cop on Mission to deal with these nut jobs.

    Since local government has shown no interest in making changes it’s best to leave.

    • I think the fines should be increase with each time you’re fined in a 2 year period. Start with $500 and increase by $250 with each repeated problem to a maximum of $5000. Eventually the property owners would have to do something.

      Even if you leave a property vacant, there’s no reason for it to look like crap. I could understand if this were a ghost town, but it’s not.

      Why is our city going after residential people who haven’t cut their lawns or don’t bring their trash cans in while ignoring the major problems business property owners are bringing to our economy? It’s just ridiculous.


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