Thursday, June 28, 2007

are those orange stickers on vacant houses a really bad idea?

With population declining in some neighborhoods in the city, inevitably some houses are vacant.

And as summer progresses, many of these homes have high grass growing around them, extending many inches (if not feet) into the air.

To notify the owners that their lack of grass cutting has broken a city ordinance, the city has placed large orange stickers on the windows of the main entrances to the home to notify the occupants of the situation.

But to solve the primary problem, is this policy creating a secondary problem that's even worse?

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At some point, the grass is cut at the house.

It's mowed by concerned neighbors, or the city, or maybe it even doesn't get cut in a reasonable time.

But what's now apparent, for everyone to see is that there is a bright, eye-catching, orange sticker alerting any person driving or walking by the possiblity of a completey vacant house.

In fact, the orange sticker is crying out:

"Hey, I'm free for the taking. Please steal my copper pipes. Please break my windows. Please perform other illegal activities inside."

And to say the least, some residents are really upset that the city has taken the step of marking these houses in this manner. Here is a nice article from the Youngstown Vindicator looking at the problem in Boardman.

Wow, if it's bad there, imagine what the case is like if they were to look in the city.

Metro residents claim that not only do the orange stickers look ugly, but they make other houses around them look bad as well.

So here are some questions:

What is the intent of these orange stickers?

Is it to alert the owners of their violation? Are there other ways to accomplish this goal without producing a visible sign of vacancy to all who pass? If the house is vacant, then is an orange sticker really useful if no one is there?

Youngstown has some neighborhoods that are labeled "in transition" by city leaders. They are the ones starting to slip down the slope of disinvestment and will either rebound or fall into oblivion . . .

The central quandry I want to leave with all of you readers is this:

Are these orange stickers helping our neighborhoods, or speeding up their downfall?

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And speaking of things growing like crazy, nine, count em, nine new blogs have been recently added to the Youngstown blogging machina. Good luck to them.

Please update your reading lists and blogrolls accordingly.
and finally, our congressman is now blogging (with much frequency) at his site:

come on in folks, the water's warm. start your own blog!

and welcome to the party . . .


The YBI said...

Great post! I only hope that the message is not lost to City officials.

Joseph said...

When I lived in Brooklyn, NY the city's dept of sanitation would do street cleaning 4 days a week on alternate sides of the street.

If your car was on the street during those hours and a cop saw it, he/she would issue you a ticket.

If your car was on the street when the dept of sanitation came- then the guy would get out of his street-cleaning machine and put a big orange sticker on the driver-side window of your car.

The sticker was WAY worse than the ticket.

The sticker was not only embarrasing to the car owner (which, I suppose, is the intention of the orange sticker on the houses) but it was nearly impossible to remove.