The trash strewn lot on South 24th Street in Point Breeze, which has persisted despite complaints to CLIP.
2nd District Councilman Kenyatta Johnson introduced a bill today that would grant more far-reaching powers to city cleanup crews in the fight against blight. The bill would allow trash removal agencies like the Community Life Improvement Program (CLIP) to bypass locked gates and fences in instances of persistant dumping. These barriers have prevented CLIP from cleaning out illegal dumps in the past, like one profiled in a recent City Paper story.
Johnson's office said that the bill, which was co-sponsored by Councilmembers Cindy Bass and Mark Squilla, would reach far beyond Point Breeze, stating that they estimated there were a 3,200 sealed lots citywide, a sizable number of which could contain illegally stored debris.
"We're always getting calls about lots that need to be cleaned up, which we forward to the city," said Johnson's legislative aide Steven Cobb, "A lot of times we'll get a [response] back from the city that there was a locked gate...There's a lot of back and forth, wasted energy and money."
However, Cobb acknowledged that the legislation would probably have little impact on the lot at 1109 South 24th, which is made up of six parcels. City Paper reported that local contractor Donald Plummer has dumped construction materials for years on the lot, which is partially owned by community leader and anti-blight activist Claudia Sherrod. The sheer amount of debris that has accumulated in that lot has now likely surpassed the CLIP's trash-removal abilities.
"It looks like it's being used as a large-scale illegal dump, so that's something we're going to have to work on with L&I," said Cobb, who noted legal action was being pursued to rectify the situation.
The move is the latest in a game of one-upsmanship that has taken place between Johnson and area developer Ori Feibush in the battle to clean up the many vacant lots in the 2nd Councilmanic District. Feibush plans to challenge Johnson for his council seat, and recently announced he was funding a sort of private CDC that would execute regular lot cleaning and neighborhood beautification services.
Feibush praised the new bill but, perhaps unsurprisingly, still had criticisms of his future opponent's plan.
"I think the bill is tremendous," he said in a phone interview, "but the City itself is still the biggest culprit when it comes to trash strewn, overgrown lots."
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