CHICAGO (CBS) — Overgrown weeds, empty beer cans, and frustrated neighbors; the Morning Insiders uncovered a pattern of vacant city-owned properties falling into disarray, leading to more than 100 complaints last year.
CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas discovered those complaints don’t always lead to solutions.
4129 West Grenshaw; that’s how a lot overgrown with weeds and grass and littered with trash is described in Cook County records, but neighbors simply know it as the eyesore down the block.
“They should maintain it,” Anderson Jackson said. “It devalues your property.”
“It makes me feel disgusted, because you want your neighborhood to look nice,” Lederius Richardson said.
Last year, the lot on Grenshaw prompted at least three complaints to the 311 city services line.
Neighbors complained about trash, debris, and three abandoned car tires.
“I did wonder who owns it. I always did,” Richardson said.
The lot is owned by the city.
“That makes it even more worse, because they should care about what the neighborhood looks like,” Richardson said.
City records showed 311 fielded more than 100 complaints about vacant lots owned by the city in 2018, ranging from trash and debris to high weeds.
The city said they completed all of those service requests, including the ones regarding 4129 West Grenshaw, but some of the problems are back.
“It should be constantly, continuously making sure that it’s cleaned,” Richardson said.
CBS 2 visited four other city-owned lots across Chicago, all with overgrown weeds and grass. They were all littered with beer cans and plastic bags, despite a city ordinance requiring owners of vacant lots to keep them free of trash.
If they were private property, the city could fine owners $600.
Trash and weeds aren’t the only problems created by vacant lots.
Javier Anaya said a vacant lot at Gladys and Karlov is a hot spot for drug deals.
“People see this; they’re scared to buy here, they’re scared to rent here,” he said.
The city encourages people to help them out by reporting problems to 311.
The Department of Streets and Sanitation also schedules weed cutting at vacant lots two or three times a year, during their weed-cutting season which begins in the spring. Anaya said that’s not enough.
“Clean it up and secure it,” he said.
CBS 2 has learned the Chicago Inspector General’s office is auditing the city’s weed-cutting services.
The city would not agree to an on-camera interview about the vacant lots, but when the Morning Insiders sent them photos and addresses for some of those properties, the city said it sent crews to work on cleaning them up.
The same thing happened in October when CBS 2 discovered another city lot in bad shape at 71st and Champlain.