I recently got a call from a good friend who lives in West Humboldt Park. My friend had just had a “visitor.” It seems the “visitor” was the local drug boy whom my friend had called the police on. My friend, being tired of the drug dealing in the neighborhood had allowed the 911 operator to pass on my friend’s name and phone number to the responding officers. Those officers in turn had given the drug boy my friend’s name and phone number. That was the reason why the “drug boy” had ended up in my friend’s living room, pissed that my friend had called the police.
The drug boy wanted to let my friend know that the police had given him my friend’s information. My friend said the drug boy was trying to be intimidating, but my friend is so sick of them selling drugs on the block, that my friend refuses to be scared and no longer cares.
When my friend first called to give me this story, my friend was shocked to learn that I hear of this occurring all the time. Go to any BEAT meeting and someone will tell of the police knocking on their door asking about them having called the police. So I offered my friend a solution to the problem. Buy a cell phone that requires you to buy your minutes using a calling card. Only use that phone to dial 911 to report the drug dealing. If you don’t ever register the phone and only call 911, you can be anonymous. It’s less than a $100 investment, but if it means the difference between being scared for your life and putting those criminals out of business, I opt to put them out of business. Remember that all 911 calls are logged. If a district has an upsurge in calls, then the police will have to explain to their superiors why the surge in calls to 911.
Speaking of calling 911, here are a few ordinances that you might want to quote when asking the police to come out to deal with some issues: Do you have young men playing basketball in the alleys or street?. What about gambling on the public sidewalk? Do you have neighbors who want to sit all in the front yard-or try to BBQ in the front and feel it’s their property and they can do whatever they want? Well one of my favorite ordinances that covers any activity that blocks the public way (streets, sidewalks or alleys) is 10-8-350: Performance in the Public Way. This ordinance, in a nutshell, basically states that no one can do any type of show, performance or exhibition, be it on their own property or on the public way, that causes or attracts a number of persons who end up blocking the public way. The fines can range up to $100.
I know no one wants to think of winter’s snow, but we do seem to have a lot of businesses and homeowners who don’t shovel snow. Well, Chicago has ordinance 10-8-180: Snow and Ice Removal which says you must remove snow and ice from the sidewalks in front of your building. Now I know you’re thinking how you can be sued if someone slips because you removed the snow. Well, there is a secondary ordinance 10-8-190: Liability for Civil Damages which makes you not liable should someone fall because you removed the snow. So no excuse, Westsiders, when the winter comes for leaving that snow on the ground for children and the elderly to have to trudge through!
Did you know it’s against the law in Chicago to cement over your entire backyard? Several people have called me because someone did it, and the rain ends up running to their property and flooding their sidewalks and basements. Chicago has a set of landscape ordinances and ordinance 13-172-140: Obstruction of Courts and Yards, which states that you can only cover 20 percent of the legal area of a yard.
Lastly, one of my neighbors had her roof collapse. The reason was that some roofers who did her new roof added a fourth layer of shingles to her home. If you’ve ever tried to lift one package of shingles, you know how heavy they are. So imagine adding that weight times four to a bungalow that was built in the 1920s. I have since learned that the city now only allows two layers of shingles on a roof before they want you to do a complete tear-off. So before another neighbor gets taken by a firm that is willing to put your roof and home at risk of collapse, I wanted you to know what the law requires.
Every Sunday at 9 p.m., I host a conference call to hear your opinions. Call 605/772-3200 (this is long distance so use your cell) and enter this Access code: 806598#.