More homes cited under city's Operation Urban Blight program

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Hundreds of homes are getting cited by code enforcement under Jacksonville's Operation Urban Blight program.

The city says the code enforcement is part of the ongoing program that began in July 2013. Code enforcement has been visiting several zip codes including the Northside area of Jacksonville, Riverside and Springfield to clean up the city. Downtown is next.

Some residents, like Amanda Searle in Springfield, say they've seen an increase in citations in Springfield and they think it's getting out of hand.

RELATED LINK: Residents can earn extra cash while ridding of blight

Searle's home was cited for nuisance vegetation and debris in her yard. She just put in garden beds on her lawn.

"We were shocked. The garden had just been put in and only half of the bed was full and its cedar so it's nice wood. We have an open permit because we're renovating our house so we do have some construction material behind our house," said Searle.

She soon realized she was not the only one.

"I walked the four block area around my property and I photographed over 40 citations in this four block area," said Searle.

Searle says she spoke to a supervisor and is working to remove the citation. She says at first she was told to appeal it, which would cost $10. Over 400 homes in Springfield were cited.

"The Urban Blight program is great, it's a great idea, but it can't be an excuse for code enforcement to come through and be overzealous, it needs to be effective code enforcement, it needs to be used with discretion," added Searle.

The children's community garden was also cited for tires in the back of the lot. Searle says the tires were removed from vacant lots by sustainable Springfield, in an effort to remove blight.

The citation says if the conditions are not fixed in 15 days, and there is no written appeal, the city can issue a lien against the property.

The city is holding a tire and sign buy-back event Saturday April 5 at EverBank Field from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can trade in up to 10 tires and get $2 each, or up to 40 illegal snipe signs for 50 cents per sign. The city expects to collect about 25-thousand tires during the event.


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