CHICAGO (CBS) — The 7100 block of South Champlain Avenue is burdened by blight — it has racked up more 311 complaints for abandoned buildings than any other block in the city over the past year and a half.
There are at least six boarded up houses on the block, many of them surrounded by unkempt lawns and empty beer cans.
“People will throw their garbage when they see there’s nobody in the house. They use it as a dump,” said Clifola Coleman, who lives in the neighborhood.
And Coleman said it’s not just houses — but vacant lots causing problems.
We found one lot that was overrun with unkempt trees, overgrown grass and trash.
So CBS 2’s Morning Insiders decided to look into who’s in charge of the property. Turns out, it’s owned by the City of Chicago.
The lot was in poor shape and had plenty of garbage in it, despite a city ordinance stating owners must keep their open lots free of trash. The penalty? A $300 to $600 fine.
“They were not following their own rules,” Coleman said.
So we emailed the city.
A deputy commissioner of the city’s Planning and Development department tells CBS 2 that city-owned lots are “not subject to the municipal code provisions involving the maintenance of privately-owned lots.”
But we checked back a couple days later and lot was not just cleaned, but drastically improved. The city had cut down many of the trees and weeds.
“It was after it was called in by someone, by the station or whoever, to tell them to come out,” Coleman said. “They should have somebody walking around the neighborhoods all the time.”
According to the deputy commissioner we spoke with, the city has lined up a potential buyer for the property through the Large Lot program, which lets people buy vacant lots for next to nothing. Coleman hopes they’ll turn it into something.
CBS 2 discovered the lot while looking into other problem properties in the Park Manor neighborhood, including one house owned by BMO Harris Bank.