The alderman is proposing an amendment to the municipal code that would allow the city to tow away vehicles left abandoned in the vacant lots several days in the row and, if the vehicles are unclaimed, dispose of them. Ervin also submitted a resolution calling for a hearing on how the city is enforcing existing regulations on “loitering for purposes related to gangs, prostitution, or narcotics trafficking.”
Both pieces of legislation, each of which deals with concerns that are regularly brought up during Ervin’s community meetings, still need to be heard on the committee level, but, as of Sept. 24, it is not clear when that might happen.
Residents of East Garfield, West Garfield Park and Austin portions of the 28th Ward have long complained about garbage and abandoned vehicles being dumped on the vacant lots near their homes.
Ervin has repeatedly acknowledged the problem, but said that the city lacks an enforcement mechanism to deal with the problem.
The new ordinance would address that problem. Under the current regulations, the city can tow away “any hazardous dilapidated motor vehicle in full view of the general public.” If the city can track down the owner, the owner must be notified and have an opportunity to retrieve it. But if the owner doesn’t retrieve the vehicle or if the owner can’t be tracked down, the city has a right to dispose of it.
Ervin’s ordinance would expand that provision to any vehicle that has been left on a vacant lot and is either so damaged that it can’t be driven off the lot or has been left abandoned for seven or more days (if it has valid state-issued plates) or four or more days (if doesn’t have plates).
The ordinance is being referred to the Committee on Budget & Government Operations, which is chaired by South Side Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd). The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 30, but its agenda has not been posted as of Sept. 24, so it’s not clear whether the ordinance will be considered.
Ervin also introduced a resolution calling for a hearing to examine the effectiveness of the city’s anti-loitering ordinances. Ervin argues that the enforcement of existing ordinances has not been effective, because their prohibitions only apply to certain zones in the city that are designed by the police superintendent.
The resolution has been sent to the Committee on Public Safety chaired by Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), who has the discretion to decide when the hearing would take place and whether the hearing would even take place at all.
It’s not clear when the hearing will take place.