Landowners fed up with blight
BATON ROUGE - A Baton Rouge landlord said the city is moving too slow when it comes to dealing with blight, and that the entire neighborhood is left paying the price.
Charlene Sims-Brown owns a house on Van Buren Street in Old South Baton Rouge. Right next door is a dilapidated abandoned house.
"This is my rental property," Sims-Brown said. "(It's) hard keeping tenants because next door looks so bad."
Squatters have apparently taken up residence in the abandoned property, bringing in a mattress and box spring.
"She has two children," Sims-Brown said of her tenant. "She's afraid she may come home and somebody is in the house or hiding in the bushes."
City leaders said the blame lays squarely on the property owners, and not city government.
"Someone does own this house," said David Guillory, director of Public Works for East Baton Rouge. "We've notified (him) several times to correct the deficiency and they have not."
The home was condemned by the city and crews are working on a list of 50 homes that will be torn down. The house on Van Buren is on that list.
"There are a lot of absentee landowners in Baton Rouge who create eyesores for neighbors," Guillory said. "And we're just responding to that issue."
"All I want to do is get this torn down and cleaned up so it'll be a decent place for people to live," Sims-Brown said.
Public Works said they've created a new Code Enforcement division this year that will allow them to take quicker action against violations. Guillory said they expect to have the entire list of blighted properties dealt with by summer.
To report problems with blighted property, call DPW using 311.