Thursday, May 31, 2012

Home wreckers

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 8:52 AM

In our story "Ramshackle Blues" in this week's Indy, we note there are dilapidated houses across the city, as well as condemned buildings.

For a complete list, as provided by the city's Code Enforcement Department, see this: Placad_Condemned_5-24-12.pdf

A view from West Colorado Avenue.

As you can see, there aren't many (if any) in the ritzy parts of town, a point made by the neighbors we interviewed regarding to houses on the list.

"If this house was in the Broadmoor area, it would be down in a week," says Ernie DiFiore, who lives next door to 1726 W. Colorado Ave., a house owned by Mark Cunningham that's been a rundown mess for more than three years.

Of course, by their nature, ritzy parts of town aren't ramshackle places, so it's not surprising that dilapidated houses are scarce in the Broadmoor area, or Briargate, Interquest, Rockrimmon, etc. (That said, DiFiore also notes of the Colorado Avenue house, "If city officials were living next to it, it wouldn't have lasted this long.)

His point is that the city has budgeted only $50,000 a year to demolish these kinds of wrecks. It will spend $46,000 tearing down just one, Cunningham's place.

Below you'll find more images of the two houses we wrote about in our story, most of which were taken by Indy intern Madalyn Hanson. The first set of photos were taken at 405 S. Cedar St. At the beginning of that set you'll find a photo of the house where the building's owners, Norma and Sam Dunlap Jr., live in northeast Colorado Springs. The second set of photos, of the West Colorado house, is followed by a shot of the house where that building's owner, Cunningham, lives in northwest Colorado Springs.

Code Enforcement does what it can, but it's run ragged keeping up with all the notices and inspections for the condemned and dilapidated houses, not to mention hundreds of complaints it receives about weeds, junk and illegal dumping.

Says Code Enforcement chief Ken Lewis: "I have six code enforcement officers. That’s for the entire city. We’re so inundated with bedbug complaints, illegal dumping, tires, construction debris, landscape debris. Dumping is epidemic. I had to respond to the mayor’s office for a house on Marlow [Circle] because people there are screaming. The whole side of the house is missing. Insulation is blowing around. They're pushing Regional Building [Department] to demolish it.

"I’m trying to leverage my own people to let the weeds complaints go and spend more time on these houses," he adds. "They’re time intensive with all the notices and inspections. But then their calls pile up on them. We’re drowning and we’re trying to swim, and it’s hard to keep up."

We asked for a comment from Mayor Steve Bach last week, since he's the guy who oversees every operational aspect of the city funded by taxpayers, and has the power to spend more money enforcing the city's rules on dangerous buildings, including demolition. But he didn't get back in time for our print edition.

Finally, at 6:29 p.m., Tuesday, city communications director Cindy Aubrey sent us this e-mail:

Sent the questions to the Mayor. Re: the dilapidated buildings, he said that Chief Pete Carey would be more appropriate for comment. It looked as though you had a response from PD.

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