CHICAGO (CBS) — The CBS 2 Morning Insiders are staying on the case of ugly abandoned properties in Chicago.
Following stories on a bad block in Avalon Park, we were curious about weed filled lots citywide. CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas discovered that indeed there are more.
Bonciel Griffin-Burress is proud of her neighborhood.
“This was historic Bronzeville,” she said.
But when it comes to the overgrown grass, weeds, and trash, Griffin-Burress said: “It’s an eyesore. It’s a rodent problem. It’s a litter problem.”
And that is where the pride stops.
“I don’t even let my kids go around this area as far as unaccompanied because of vacant lots and the things that it attracts,” Griffin-Burress said. “I don’t want my kids playing next to rodents.”
Take the city-owned lot next to a park at 47th Street and Champlain Avenue. Records from 311 show 27 weed complaints for the lot in the past two years.
Griffin-Burress said the city should be cleaning their lots more often.
“Every so often, you’ll see a mower come around to clear the lots, but you think about how fast vegetation grows,” she said.
We looked at the top 20 addresses for weed complaints since 2018. City and county records list more than half of those addresses as city-owned.
“I get tired of looking at them,” Griffin-Burress said.
But when we asked the city, they said their own employees filed most of the complaints – and they are investigating whether the high numbers are from a data entry error.
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It is not the first time unclear data have affected the city’s efforts.
Back in July, the city’s Inspector General weighed in on the problem.
The Inspector General’s Office found the city is coming up short when it comes to weed-cutting – in part because they don’t have an accurate and complete list of city-owned properties.
Avalon Park residents complained to us earlier this month about a lot at 78th Street and Woodlawn Avenue.
“I wanted to write to the owner to say, ‘Hey, clean this up,’ but I can’t find an address,” Linda Hudson said of the Avalon Park lot.
We looked into it and found the 78th and Woodlawn lot is at least partially city-owned. But they’re now working to clean the property up.
As to the list we sent the city, they said the weed requests were all completed. But in some of the spots, it looked like the weeds were already back.
All of the properties with the most weed complaints were on the South Side. We’ll follow up with the city about that possible data entry error, and let you know what we find out.