Nightmare code application saga | WIVT
BINGHAMTON, NY – A Binghamton landowner who feels terrified by the scourge and neglect surrounding him calls for procedural changes in the way the city goes after neglectful slum lords.
Steve Menz runs a business at the corner of 2 rue Fayette, where a big pile of garbage has been lying in the aisle for over 3 weeks.
Every day he contacts the city code department for help, but the garbage remains.
Menz says the persistent problem is emblematic of shortcomings in the way the code is enforced.
If a landlord receives a violation summons and doesn’t rectify the situation, there is a mechanism for the city to come and clean it up and bill the landlord, the process can take months.
Menz says that in the meantime, the neighborhood must suffer from visual and health assault.
âWe should be doing it so that it can be done in 24 hours, not in 3 weeks. Why should our neighborhood have to live with this for 3 weeks? If this property was next to City Hall, if it was on Riverside Drive, if it was on Beethoven next to Rec Park, it wouldn’t exist. It would be gone, âsays Menz.
Richard Knowles, Junior has been living at 2 rue Fayette for about a year.
He says Monaco bought the building earlier this year and let it fall into disrepair.
His front door doesn’t have a door knob, the electrical outlets don’t work, and the roof is leaking.
Knowles says he can’t bring his kids to visit him.
âIt’s mold. I have to cancel the job. I’m calling the office. They don’t cooperate, everyone has an attitude. The roof collapses. It’s crazy in there, âKnowles says.
City Councilor Aviva Friedman says complaints about the code are the first thing she hears from her constituents.
Friedman says she thinks the city’s code enforcement officers are doing their best with limited resources.
She thinks they need more staff to be able to act more proactively than reactively.
âI think we have to think creatively. Instead of just saying âOkay, we’re doing our best with what we can,â let’s think creatively about reinventing this process to help prevent problems in the future, which will benefit everyone, â Friedman said.
Friedman suggests looking for a law in Minneapolis that regularly inspects rental properties, ranks them up, then subjects them to higher or lower fines and more or less frequent inspections depending on their classification.
Menz is pushing for a system in which, after an initial notice of violation, the Slumlords would no longer receive notices.
Instead, the city would hire contractors to immediately clean up trash, mow tall grass or shovel sidewalks and add the cost to the property tax bill.
Menz says that after ignoring his suggestions for nearly a year, city officials finally responded to him to tell him the system was working fine as it is.
A message left in Monaco was not returned.