The owner/occupant of this three-apartment (!) house at 1018 E. Spring was told by the OEO that his yard could not be used to park his vehicle, so he dumped a load of gravel on the lawn. The black flap hanging from the roof is tar paper; shingles are nowhere to be seen. After frequent complaints by the East Spring Street Neighborhood Association, the owner was given a month to address various code violations. The deadline is February 17.
What do you think will happen?
For the umpteenth time in the short history of the NA Confidential blog, yesterday’s posting about New Albany’s often decrepit and dilapidated housing stock -- and our inability or unwillingness as a community to come to grips with what it means and how we might fix it -- has hit a rather formidable nerve on the part of our collective readership.
To these frequent expressions of conviction in the still sparsely populated blogosphere must be added the constantly repeated expressions of anger and frustration heard on a consistent basis at neighborhood association gatherings, and in public at numerous Board of Works and City Council meetings, along with past letters to the editor to all known local newspapers, as well as the combined totals of hundreds, if not thousands of hours of effort on the part of ordinary citizens to address the lingering problems of non-enforcement of ordinances that are supposed to govern unkempt, hazardous and unacceptable properties and the patently non-responsive entities that own them … and it becomes increasingly obvious that here, finally, is the single defining issue that unites people of all ages, races, classes, political affiliations and musical preferences.
But will they unite?
We have laws on the books, and although it would be helpful to see an official and explicit policy that embraces goals and standards of quantifying them, a full-time city attorney and a city court on hand to help do the job, the tools to begin certainly do exist.
Why, then, do we continue to accept conditions as they are?
Is this purely a monetary issue?
Were successive generations of political “leadership” powerless to prevent New Albany from sinking into the grip of the slumlord lobby, or is it more insidious than that?
Does it strike directly into the heart of this city’s persistent dysfunction – a low common denominator accepted for so long in housing, in discourse, in electoral choices – in culture itself -- that we’re now unable to cope with the therapies necessary to commence a cure?
What on earth are we afraid of?
NA Confidential does not endorse the view that the cancer of which we speak is the fault of this or any previous mayoral administration – not because we are beholden to this, that or another local politician, but because such a simplistic position is simply nonsensical.
It has taken a long time to reach this point.
For reasons that may remain unknown to us – desperation, payola, expedience, lack of imagination or just plain laziness – successive generations of political “leaders” have failed to address New Albany’s culture of unaccountability, failed to articulate a vision of residency that does not rely on the slumlord’s corrosive calculation, and failed what should be a government official’s fundamental measurement of efficiency, namely, fair and equal enforcement of laws that exist to maintain a level playing field for all citizens.
In recent weeks, numerous ideas have been discussed in this space. What is needed now is a strategy for coordinating the time and talents of the people who are willing to unite and make this our moment to try and make this a better place to live.
Much surely can be accomplished by volunteers if they’re properly directed.
It would be helpful to have a display of principled resolve, as well as a smidgen of backbone, from the city’s elected and appointed officials, all of whom at one time or another have paid lip service to the notion of accountability. It is understood that money’s tight, but perhaps there are other ways to approach this problem. We cannot go on using lack of money as an excuse not to make an effort.
There is a newspaper in New Albany, and that newspaper might decide to devote space to exposing the most egregious offenders by publishing photos and public records – or not. The depth of interest in topics like ordinance and building code enforcement and rental property inspections certainly is evident among the Tribune’s readers. Is the newspaper listening?
None of this stands to be easy, but guess what? Almost nothing in life is – never has been, never will be.
Where to start?