[Source: Michael Clancy, Arizona Business Gazette] — Uncut weeds, graffiti, outdoor piles of junk: These are the norms in the world of blight remediation. But a new, potentially more dangerous problem has emerged as the economy has declined. Vacant homes, usually the subjects of foreclosure, are keeping the city’s team of 43 blight inspectors on their toes.
At a recent Neighborhood Services Department presentation of its program, Put the Diamond Back Into Your Neighborhood, about 20 people showed up at the Paradise Valley Community Center to hear what the city offers and to share issues they are facing. Of those who spoke, each was concerned about abandoned homes, whether down the street, on the next block, even next door.
The concerns were different from the kinds of things Neighborhood Services inspectors usually see. Vacant homes often present a combination of more common violations. “It is absolutely a growing problem,” said Patrick Ravenstein, a neighborhood-preservation supervisor who presented the program.
He said the department’s normal concerns are related to trash and debris, outdoor storage, untamed or dead vegetation, broken fences, junk cars, vehicles parked on surfaces that are not dustproof, graffiti, and open, vacant structures. He pointed out that residents can play a big role in keeping up their neighborhoods when those kinds of problems crop up.
Some neighborhoods do quarterly cleanups, which the city supports with tools and trash bins. Some groups have landscape crews that assist with maintaining properties for people who are unable to do so. Individuals get involved by painting over graffiti, with supplies from the city. A new program from the city is Blight Busters, which trains individuals or groups to lead neighborhood efforts. [Note: Read the full article at Big problem for Phoenix: Abandoned homes.]