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One Block at a Time Making a Difference

Code enforcement and blight are top priorities of most neighborhood councils. I have been advocating an approach like Chief Magnus describes below since before I was on the City Council. I am excited to see that he is pulling it off.

 

From: Chris Magnus [mailto:cmagnus@richmondpd.net]
Sent: Saturday, September 13, 2008 5:49 PM
To: Leslie Knight; Viramontes, Maria; Marquez, John; Thurmond, Tony; Bates, Nat; Gayle McLaughlin; Police Commission Dept; Rogers, Jim (2); Lindsay, Bill; Councilmember Ludmyrna Lopez; Butt, Tom; Sandhu, Harpreet
Cc: Yader Bermudez; Darren Monahan; Dong Yoo; Chris Castanchoa; Manjit Sappal; Janear Ashley; Trisha Aljoe; Milam, Michelle; Brown, Allwyn; Michael Banks; Monk, Rochelle
Subject: One Block at a Time Making a Difference!

 

This Saturday, RPD implemented the City's 2nd "One Block At A Time" project in the Historic Iron Triangle Neighborhood.  Just a reminder, "OBAT" focuses on neighborhoods that have been especially challenged by blight, foreclosures, crime, and neglect.  The idea is to take a small area--basically a square block--and intensively focus resources from the City and the community to make a difference in the look and feel of the neighborhood.

 

Today's OBAT effort involved Code Enforcement, Patrol, Crime Prevention, City Attorney, Public Works, Parks and Rec., City Manager's Office, Planning Dept., Fire Dept., and others.  Most significantly, many residents in the neighborhood, including members of the Historic Iron Triangle Neighborhood Assoc., were also involved in the clean-up effort.  All these folks were assisted by RPD's Cadets and Explorers--a great group of young people.  Michelle Milam, RPD's Crime Prevention Manager, played a key role in helping to set up and manage OBAT. 

 

Among the many accomplishments associated with today's Iron Triangle OBAT (which was the area bordered by Barrett, 4th St., Nevin, and 5th St.), were the following:

  • Numerous vacant properties in critical disrepair (many unsecured, some actually occupied by squatters) were boarded up and secured.  Intensive follow-up will take place with the banks and mortgage companies responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of these properties.
  • A large number of yards and lots were cleaned up, with a significant amount of junk and debris cleared out (special thanks to Sims Metal Co. for their assistance with dumpsters).
  • Overgrown grass, bushes, and trees in the area were trimmed (or removed if necessary).
  • Graffiti was removed or painted over.
  • Each resident in the neighborhood was contacted regarding RMC requirements for property maintenance.  They were also provided with crime prevention materials and referral information.
  • Multiple abandoned vehicles were towed or otherwise removed from properties.
  • Squatters who were illegally occupying various properties were removed from those properties.
  • Residents were given information about City and County services.
  • Fire prevention information was provided to residents.
  • Litter was picked up throughout the area.

Both Channel 2 and Channel 5 News reporters covered the event and heard very positive feedback from neighbors in the area.

Although today was an important day in terms of "kick-starting" progress in this block, there is obviously a LOT of follow-up to be done, especially by our Code Enforcement officers and our C.E. City Attorney (Trisha Aljoe).  This work will continue over the next several weeks to assure we gain compliance from property owners in maintaining the homes and lots in the area.  As many as 75% of these properties are either already vacant or in the foreclosure process!  Talk about a challenge!

OBAT is a very positive steps towards a healthier community.  We intend to continue these efforts on a quarterly basis, rotating through different high-needs neighborhoods throughout the City.  It was very exciting seeing so many different departments, groups, and individuals working together today--and real progress was made.

If you have questions or would like more information, please feel free to contact me.  Many thanks to all those who were involved in today's effort.

Chief Chris Magnus