They've had their chances, and if several residents of the Colonial Acres neighborhood in East Memphis don't clean up in the next week or so, they'll be cited for code-enforcement violations. A community-wide clean-up project netted 156 addresses that have remained in violation after three months of reminders to tidy up.
In January, volunteers from Colonial Acres canvassed the neighborhood with flyers listing the top-10 code violations. Residents were given three weeks to get their properties into compliance. After three weeks, volunteers performed a follow-up check and 356 addresses were recorded and sent to the district attorney's office. Letters were mailed to those homes warning residents to clean up in two weeks or their addresses would be turned over to code enforcement.
"One of the main problems we found was people parking in their yards," said Anne Shafer, president of the Colonial Acres Neighborhood Association. "I wouldn't want to put anybody out of their house on that account, but the city has suggested they pave part of the yard if they want to park there. That keeps from creating ruts."
According to Carolyn Lloyd, information assistant for the Mayor's Citizens Service Center, there's also a big problem with people storing junk and wrecked cars on their property. The Mayor's Citizens Service Center spearheaded the Colonial Acres project, which was a pilot program that will eventually carry over into other neighborhoods.
She says a similar project has already begun in the Glenview neighborhood, but on a much smaller scale. The Glenview neighborhood has about 300 homes, while Colonial Acres has nearly 3,000.
Those smaller numbers may be a good thing for the code-enforcement office. Johnny McKay, manager of code enforcement, says there simply aren't enough inspectors to address the Colonial Acres situation very quickly.
"It's going to be nearly impossible for the two inspectors assigned to that area to answer all of those complaints in a short span of time," he said. "Memphis is a big city and we've got to be responsive to the entire city, but we'll keep our nose to the grindstone. We'll do what we can to see what's been reported and determine which homes are actually in violation."