Commentary: Keeping Up Appearances

By Council member Val Lerch
9th District, Long Beach

With an increase in vacant houses (some of them in foreclosure) and less money in the City budget than ever, Code Enforcement is pushed to the limit trying to keep up with unsightly properties. I would like to thank those of you in the Ninth District who keep your own property in good condition and report neighborhood concerns to my office and/or to appropriate city departments, and to you who volunteer to help beautify our neighborhoods by picking up trash, and planting, weeding and pruning community flower gardens.
In addition to taking action to report to city departments any neighborhood concerns communicated to me by my constituents, I have endeavored to reduce neighborhood eyesores by having a staff person take monthly tours for Project N.I.C.E. (Neighborhood Improvement and Clean up Effort) of each of the eight neighborhood areas I have drawn within the district. The letters are intended as a friendly reminder of the city’s municipal code standards, to advise residents to correct things that may be in violation, and to help them avoid having Code Enforcement become involved.
The most common reasons letters are sent are: overgrown vegetation, trash cans left out, vehicles parked on lawns, and excess trash left on the curb.
If, by the next monthly tour, the concern has not been noticeably improved, my office may generate a request to Code Enforcement to take appropriate action. While touring the district, items the City is responsible for maintaining are also noted and requests for service are made to the appropriate city department. These include: missing/faded/damaged road signs, dumped items, potholes, sidewalk/curb/gutter repair, damaged or overgrown street trees, and graffiti.