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West Central works to spruce up

Thu., Oct. 29, 2009, midnight

Neighborhood, city work to improve curb appeal

The city of Spokane and the West Central neighborhood are joining forces to encourage property owners to clean up the neighborhood. If the program is successful, it may be extended to other neighborhoods.

Last Wednesday city code enforcement officers and West Central volunteers walked the streets looking for yards with too much trash and buildings that showed signs of neglect.

“The city didn’t go looking for anything; it was the neighborhood that called us and asked for help,” said Jonathan Mallahan, neighborhood services director. “We are trying to address the ‘broken window syndrome.’ Properties with boarded up windows, piles of garbage or abandoned vehicles can attract crime because criminals assume that people aren’t paying attention or don’t care.”

As part of this cleanup program, the West Central Neighborhood Council can make arrangements for elderly or disabled residents who can’t clean up the property by themselves.

For residents who can do the job themselves, there are $25 dump passes available to cover part of the disposal fee at the Waste to Energy Plant or solid waste transfer stations.

Part of the idea behind this program is to help people identify what constitutes a code violation and what doesn’t.

“A vehicle in the front yard may look a junk car to the neighbor, but the owner doesn’t agree,” said Mallahan. “To be deemed a junk vehicle, the car has to be worth more if it’s sold as junk than if it’s sold as a vehicle.”

Garbage piles are often reported to the city as code violations as well, and sometimes they are.

“If you took all the trash in the yard, could you fit it into a garbage can? If the answer is no, then it could be a code violation,” said Mallahan.

Owners who are cited for a substandard building or too much garbage on their property can also hire the city to clean things up. The cost of that solution is $62 per 15 minutes of labor and disposal time.

“We realize it’s a tough economic time for everyone,” Mallahan said. “One concern we are trying to address with the $25 dump passes is to avoid creating a bigger problem with code violations during tough economic times.”

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