Negligent property owners make blight a city challenge | News
(WMC-TV) - The city of Memphis says it is doing its level best to clean up blight, but they say picking up the slack for many property owners is making it hard to keep up.
Boyd's Lawn Service is busy doing contract work through the city. The business works six days a week.
Robert Boyd says the lawn service averages about 60 houses a day.
"We [take] care of the grass. As much as we can," he said. "Grass is chest high."
Boyd runs three crews; the city has 102 others just like them cutting overgrown lots one 25-square block at a time.
The Action News 5 Investigators featured a property on Ingle Street Monday night. The city says the property belongs to Shelby County's land bank, but city crews cut it on Tuesday as a matter of coincidence – because they were already in the 25-square area.
The Ingle Street lot is just one of 80,000 across Memphis.
"We're embarrassed that we can't get to all of them. But we're very proud of the increases we've made," said deputy director of public works neighborhood improvement Onzie Horne.
Horne says in a perfect world all 80,000 would get six cuts per year.
"In spite of the fact that we've increased our productivity 500 percent, we simply do not have the capacity to do half a million mows per year," he said.
Horne says blight is one of city hall's biggest concerns.
"If it's a private owner, cut your lot. If you're Shelby County, cut your lot. If you're a corporation, cut your lot," he said. "If you are the owner of that property, it's your responsibility to cut that lot. When you don't, all of the taxpayers of the City of Memphis have to bear the burden of that cost. That's not fair."
The city council passed the vacant property registry. City officials says it is scheduled to go into effect very soon.
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