No one likes housework. I grumble when I change sheets ; sweeping is a chore. But like all–okay, most–humans who inhabit a built environment (aka a “house”), I know that failure to tend to these mundane tasks will eventually make my home unlivable or dangerous or both.
What is true for houses is true for cities. I realize that the everyday tasks of running a city–cleaning and paving streets, tending to parks, dealing with budgets and myriad other necessary chores–aren’t the fun parts of being a Mayor. But that doesn’t make them less important.
One of my persistent gripes with the Ballard Administration is its neglect of the essential housekeeping tasks that keep a city livable. To be fair, some of those tasks are assigned to municipal corporations like the Health and Hospital Corporation, but those corporations are part of city government, and citizens have a legitimate right to expect the city administration to monitor their performance and ensure that they are doing their job–especially when public safety is at risk.
That isn’t getting done.
Case in point: We own a property–a double–across from Brookside park. Several weeks ago, a really bad fire destroyed the house immediately east of that double. You can see through what is still standing. The remaining roof and sidewalls are clearly dangerous, and burned timbers lie haphazardly on what was the front porch.
It’s very dangerous. And it is still unsecured, weeks after the fire, and despite repeated calls to Health and Hospital. If neighborhood children decided to play in it–or if a homeless person tried to squat there– the likely consequences would be serious.
When I was in City Hall, promptly securing such properties was a high priority. (So was Code Enforcement, which by the looks of several neighborhoods is currently nonexistent.) Money isn’t a problem–a lien against the property secures repayment of amounts spent to make the premises safe.
I understand that things like weed control, securing abandoned properties, and managing city services is anything but glamorous. I’m sure it’s much more fun to bid for a Super Bowl or build a cricket stadium. But there is no excuse for ignoring the boring, necessary work of managing the various agencies that are needed to run a city.
I know that when Mayor Ballard announced that his administration would make “public safety number one” he was thinking of crime. But securing dangerous structures is also a public safety issue.
He’s batting zero on that one, too.