News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


City's duty to halt slide in older neighborhoods

A conflict between Mardi Gras

Mark Street Southwest is a microcosm of the forces that send neighborhoods into decline.

It takes one resident to start the slide and, if the city doesn't step in, it's gone.

Take homeowner Don Dial. He said he moored a cabin cruiser in his yard as a barrier to his next-door neighbors and because he's building in a rural area to get away from the neighborhood's environment.

His next -door neighbors, he said, were in a rental house that had holes in it a person could crawl through. He described it as an unkempt place, yet that's what a neighbor says about the cabin cruiser parked in his front yard, a boat trailer and camper in a side yard and a second cabin cruiser in the backyard.

He said the items were there to create a barrier from the former neighbors. He says there is a growing bad element in his neighborhood.

Gail Warren can cite other signs to support a neighborhood in decline. She sees seven window air-conditioning units stacked under a backyard carport. Then there's the old truck that obviously is not in use, and piles of wood scraps.

Why is the decline obvious to most people, but not to city officials? Why are the causes for the decline not evident?

David Lee, city code enforcement officer, was timid about resolving the problems on Mark Street. He said there might be violations if the vehicles are not current with licenses and registration.

Gee, that shouldn't be too difficult for a city official to check. And what about the old truck covered with a tarp? Is there a presumption that it's not in use?

Neighborhoods begin to go down when cities decline to enforce housing codes. Bad housing brings on fouled premises.

A resident in the Larkwood Subdivision lost $11,200 on the sale of a house because of the number of cars at the house across the street.

Many residents are fed up with having to leave their neighborhoods; from having their property values drop; and from contending with unruly neighbors.

The city can stop this deterioration. This will be a major issue in the next city election. The city can't grow when City Hall won't protect people's property values.

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