New Law Will Help Cities Clean Up Eyesore Properties

LONG BEACH (WLOX) -- The home at 201 Lawler Avenue is rotting away, and neighbors want something done about it. One lady, who wants to remain anonymous, says the city should bring in a bulldozer.

"A lot of people think it ought to just be torn down and just a slab sitting there," the neighbor said.

It's obvious why property owners in the neighborhood want the owner of the abandoned home to fix it up. Mold is beginning to grow throughout the home. There's a pile of lumber in front of the garage and the garage door isn't completely shut, leaving an opening for stray animals and rodents.

Junk is piled up inside the garage. There's an opening above the overhang, again, giving squirrels and other animals the ability to seek shelter inside the attic.

Neighbors say they saw homeless people going inside during the winter.

"I would like the owner to show up and have the yard done and either put the house up for sale or rent it," one neighbor said.

There's a note on the door stating that this house is not for sale. WLOX News tried contacting the homeowner, Kelly C. Walker, but the telephone just rings with no answer and there's no way to leave a message.

Long Beach building code official Earl Levens said, "Normally what we do is try contacting them by registered mail to get them to close the property up."

Neighbors keep their lawns mowed as well as the front yard of Ms Walker's home, but the backyard is a different story. Levens says he'll begin steps to try and contact Ms Walker.

"If they don't do what we ask, then it goes before a judge. We bring all the paperwork to a judge and file it with them. An injunction to clean up the property, if he files for us," Levens said.

Levens says there are 10 to 15 residential homes in Long Beach that are in need of cleaning up.

Long Beach Mayor Billy Skellie says a new law will help cities speed up property clean up.

"House Bill 572 was signed by the Governor in March, and it's a bill that will allow you to recover your expenses that you spend on cleaning up a property, whether you contract it out or do it with city employees," Mayor Skellie said.

House Bill 572 will go into effect in July, and should help in cleaning up blighted properties throughout the state. Mayor Skellie says the city may wait until June when the new bill goes into effect to aggressively pursue cleanup of residential properties.

If you have a complaint about a residence in Long Beach, you can call the Building Code Office at (228) 863-1556.