Friday, August 29, 2008

Crime and Blight They Go Hand In Hand

On the 1800 Block of Harmon Street in South Berkeley there is a problem house. This particular house is by all definitions blighted--though the City of Berkeley exempts owner occupied, single-family dwellings and cannot require the property owner to maintain his property. The house has peeling paint, most likely the leaded variety, its siding is deteriorated, there are several inoperable vehicles stacked up in the driveway, the weeds are overgrown, and there is garbage on the front lawn, the sidewalk and the gutter.

The house is occupied by an elderly man. At least one of his relatives, who is his son, lives at the property. His other son is often observed loitering in front of the house and along Harmon and Adeline Streets. Both of the children are drug dealers. Apparently, both have spent time in jail for drug dealing and have been on parole. Various residents and neighbors have witnessed firsthand the drug dealing. The used little dime bags tossed onto the sidewalk and into the street provide the clearest evidence of their drug use and dealing. Both adult children are out creating havoc in the community and the neighborhood. They are the magnet for pit bulls, boom cars, loitering of gang members, drinking in public, public urination, and crime. The manifestation of their deeds is evident in the garbage they leave behind--drug packets, liquor bottles, high octane beer cans, cigar wrappers, and fast food wrappers.

While some may characterize the condition of this family as a legacy of slavery and racism, others see it as a lack of individual responsibility and lack of respect for community. Others in the community who see this behavior and ignore it by not calling the Police or reporting it to the City simply enable the behavior. Why do South Berkeley residents allow this kind of behavior to persist? Why does the City of Berkeley allow this activity to continue seemingly unabated? Some in the community have suggested that the City of Berkeley intentionally contains crime and blight in South Berkeley. Is this really true? What would be their incentive? We want to hear from you, the residents of South Berkeley. Do you feel that the City and the Berkeley Police are responsive to your concerns? Do you feel they are working diligently to shut down problem drug houses?


Larry said...

Oakland City Officials not only are NOT enforcing against slumlords, they are colluding with and outright reward them.

And attacking and retaliating against those who resist.

Fight Blight said...


Our experience is that blight is a complaint driven process. The City is not out looking for blighted properties. However, if citizens call and make a complaint, the issue is forwarded to a code enforcement officer. We have had significant success in North Oakland in getting the City to cite homeowners who have properties with overgrown weeds, peeling paint, and abandoned/inoperable vehicles. In fact we are seeing properties that have been blighted for years, being painted. The Police has towed over 60 vehicles at our request. Berkeley is a bit different where the code enforcement division has a particular Supervising Code Enforcement Officer who is does not take ownership of problems coupled with a weak blight ordinance.