PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Like many Pittsburgh residents, Craig Unger, of Sheraden, lives next to an abandoned piece of property.READ MORE: Westmoreland Co. Board Of Elections Making Changes, Restructuring
“It’s a mess. There are three houses around me that are empty that need taken care of,” says Unger.
All over the city, empty homes, homes with overgrown grass and weeds, and property with junk all over the place create problems for the residents who take care of their places.
“It makes my place look bad in a way, even though I keep it clean,” says the Sheraden resident.
And, says Unger, it attracts crime.
“I’ve seen it on this street and in the neighborhood,” he said.
Cracking down on what are called nuisance or disruptive properties is a top goal of Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Theresa Kail Smith.
“We have some, like every other city and every other borough around us, that have some that are just problematic,” Smith told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Tuesday. “And so we want to make sure that those are the folks that we’re addressing, the people that are repeat offenders and are constantly a nuisance in the community.”READ MORE: Black Bear Spotted Roaming Near Rt. 981 In New Alexandria
Smith says the city has struggled for years to get property owners to clean up the messes, so she has a bill to give the city more enforcement power to make that happen.
Under her bill, the public safety director could declare a property disruptive for any repeat violation of the law, including noise, weeds, garbage, and, of course, drugs and other felonies.
After declared disruptive — and the failure of the owner to fix the problem — the city could arrest the property owner and make him or her pay the costs of calling police or fire to that property.
Delano: “City Council can pass all the laws that it wants. It really comes down to enforcement.”
Delano: “Is this administration enforcing the laws the way they should?”
Smith: “They want to, so we have to give them the tools to do so.”MORE NEWS: Police Searching For Missing 82-Year-Old Merilyn Penn
“I think that’s great,” notes Unger. “Somebody needs to do something.”