Birmingham’s Inglenook neighborhood neglected, community voices concerns

Your Voice Your Station

This is a Your Voice Your Station Special Report.

Christmas Day
December 25 2021 12:00 am

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – CBS 42 is Your Voice Your Station. We are reporting on a neighborhood that Inglenook community members call “neglected.”

Inglenook Neighborhood President Rev. Gwen Cook Webb said the area has gone unnoticed by the city for years. The communities concerns brought CBS 42 to Jackson Street, right at the city of Tarrant line on the edge of Inglenook.

On this street alone, we found an uncovered manhole, a mangled-up car that one neighbor said was hit by someone speeding on the street, and a home that runs a car repair business on a property zoned for residential use.

“It is the city’s responsibility to deal with situations like that,” Webb said. “If he has been allowed to do this all these years, the question to the city officials is why.” 

City spokesperson Chanda Temple said in a statement that the property on the 4300 block of Jackson Street has been written up by inspectors for operating a car repair business.

We took that information to the home with cars filling the front lawn and street in front of it.

“This wouldn’t be a business because most of these are my dad’s cars right here,” Ervin Hayes said.

Hayes said he lost his day job because of the pandemic. He claims he is not running a full-time repair business and was unaware that he could be violating city code when we asked him about it. He was also willing to move the cars immediately if needed.

“When people do come to have work done that they can’t afford to go on the outside, yeah I do make a little extra money now and then, but nothing major where you could put some legitimate business out on the corner,” Hayes said.

Temple said the city has taken the owner in the 4300 block of Jackson Street to court. Even after court actions, the cars have returned.

“As taxpayers we pay for services and we’re supposed to receive those services,” Webb said.

Our cameras spotted several overgrown lots and junkyards in addition to those issues on Jackson Street.

Webb said she used her own money to cut back the vacant lot adjacent to her home. Around the corner sits an old burned-out home with missing steps. Across the street from that, several cars sit on another lot. Webb said she has reported these properties multiple times.

Temple said the city’s code enforcement efforts connected to Inglenook include:

  • 40 demolished structures since January 2018
  • 5 condemned structures in progress, ready for demolition
  • 148 vacant properties active in weed bill
  • 60 occupied properties in violation (inoperable vehicles, junky yards, etc.)
  • 55 housing code inspections investigated since January 2021
  • 64 active zoning violation cases (parking in the required front yard, fences, business use of residential property, etc.)

Temple said Environmental Code Inspectors in Birmingham’s Department of Public Works have been working toward compliance at the property in the 4300 block of Jackson Street. She said any inoperable vehicles parked in the street will begin to be tagged and towed by the Birmingham Police Department.

According to Temple, compliance on properties can be delayed if the city is working with the property owners to clear those violations through education and granting extensions, or if the city is unable to locate the abandoned property owners for a court appearance.

“Overall, the City is aware of these challenges and we are currently working towards implementing a more comprehensive and aggressive strategy to help drive compliance of code enforcement issues,” Temple said in an emailed statement to CBS 42.

We also took these issues to newly elected City Councilman J.T. Moore for the district. He emailed us a statement:

“One of the main reasons I decided to run for office was to help improve the quality of life in blighted communities. The best tool we have to help residents remove problems like this is through code enforcement.  

While I have not spoken to or been contacted by residents about this specific property, I know that situations like this can be hazardous and should be taken care of expeditiously. I would encourage all those who are concerned with this property to go through the City’s 311 portal to report the problems of this abandoned property.  

That can be done through the City’s website (https://www.birminghamal.gov/311-portal) or by calling 205-254-2489 to speak with a representative. Residents can also email their complaints to 311@birminghamal.gov 

I am open and receptive to speaking with any residents who are concerned about this property and advocating for the removal of dangerous structures. As a City Councilor it is out of my purview to direct city resources or officials. However, I will do what is within the scope of my office to ensure that issues like this are taken seriously and addressed in a timely manner.”

– City Councilman J.T. Moore

Stay with CBS 42 as this is a developing story.

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