CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago building inspection records show more than 10,000 open cases for minor code violations. CBS 2 Investigator Dorothy Tucker has been following two specific cases that have lingered for years and have only gotten worse.
“All told, our inspectors in 2018 did almost 300,000 inspections,” Chicago Buildings Department Commissioner Judy Frydland said.
Two of those were at buildings on South Keeley and North Newcastle.
The first 311 complaint about broken gutters at a four-bedroom single-family home on North Newcastle arrived in June 2015. Nancy Rizzo’s neighbor’s gutters are so wide, they hang over her property, and she is afraid of being hit by icicles that hang over the gangway. She also gets up to two inches of ice on the gangway in winter, and bucketfuls of water that flood the gangway when it rains.
Nancy Rizzo didn’t believe her complaint was resolved, so she called 311 again in 2018.
This time, inspectors did cite the owner for downspout problems.
“We really want to work with the owner and try to find a resolution,” Frydland said. “Our code says a violation is a violation is a violation; and we can write up that violation and send it to court, absolutely.”
The Newcastle only case went to court after CBS 2 started asking questions.
Meantime, Deborah Torres is worried about her 91-year-old father, who lives next to a house with bricks falling from the wall along the gangway between the two homes on South Keeley.
“This has to get fixed. This has been going on too long,” she said.
Torres first complained about the falling bricks at 2836 S. Keeley Ave. in December 2011. At that time, the property owner was slapped with five citations; among them CN062024 for failing to “maintain parapet wall in good repair and free from cracks and defects,” and CN061014 for failure to “maintain exterior walls … free from holes, breaks, loose or rotting boards or timbers and any other conditions which might admit rain or dampness to the walls.”
“We will cite them, and if they repair it, that’s great, and we don’t need to seek fines,” Frydland said.
Apparently no repairs were made in the Keeley case.
“I complain, complain. They come over, they look, take pictures. Nothing is done,” Frank Torres said.
In October 2018, seven years after her first complaint, Torres complained again. Inspectors wrote up another four citations, including the same two violations regarding maintenance of the walls. This time, inspectors noted even worse wall conditions; including bulging masonry, large cracks, and shifting.
“People are going to get hurt, because bricks are falling,” Torres said.
“There’s always a breaking point everywhere, and if people don’t want to be cooperative or be a good neighbor, then we have to deal with it,” Frydland said.
The breaking point in the Keeley case might been questions from CBS 2, because the property owner cited for code violations now must go to court next month.
In the Newcastle case, the homeowner might be struggling to make repairs. In scenarios like that, Frydland said the city is willing to help a homeowner fix the problem, or find someone who can.