CBS42 is “Your Voice, Your Station,” where viewers call in with concerns about what’s going on in their neighborhoods, and the CBS42 news team works to find answers.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Yvonne Ball called in feeling frustrated about an overgrown property next to her home. She said the unmaintained lot was covered in weeds, tall grass, and trash, and it became a den for pests.
For years, she asked the City of Birmingham for help, but it was always a matter of who owns the land and whose jurisdiction it was. However, an investigation by CBS42 got Ball the answer — and the solution — she was looking for.
“It’s ridiculous for somebody to live like this,” Ball said about the lot next to her home on 17th Place Southwest.
Ball, 70, has lived in her home since 1984, but in the last few years, she said the growth on the vacant lot got out of control.
“It’s upsetting — when you walk out your door, and you got to see all of this out here,” she said.
To her, it wasn’t just an eye sore but a safety concern. Strangers would stop by to dump trash, and the land attracted some unwanted guests, including snakes and rats.
“The rats are just about as big as jack rabbits,” Ball said.
She added that these rats tore holes in her house and her furniture. They also kept her up at night. She had to pay for pest control and weed whacking out of her own pocket, and she tried calling 311 multiple times without any luck.
“I had been calling 311, this year makes four years, to get somebody to come out here and cut this lot, but I haven’t got any response yet,” Ball said.
That was until now. On Monday, the city responded.
“The property was approved [by the city council] for grass cutting in September. It is on the list and should be cut sometime this week,” said Rick Journey, the director of communications for the City of Birmingham.
Then, the city made good on its word. On Tuesday, less than a day after CBS42 spoke with Journey, contractors cleared out and cleaned up the property.
Ball was in disbelief.
“I heard a noise out here [Tuesday morning], and I was still lying there in bed. I said, ‘Oh my God, what is going on out there?’ So I got up and looked out, and I went, ‘Thank you Jesus, Thank you Jesus!'” Ball exclaimed.
Journey said the city had a record of Ball’s case number. He pointed out that this lot is private property, belonging to a former business, but since the property had been causing so many problems, the city could officially step in.
When CBS42 followed up, the city sent zone enforcement inspectors back out to the property, and now the building there is set to be demolished.
“Private property owners are responsible for maintaining their own properties. In those cases where private property owners don’t maintain their own properties and create problems for neighbors or others in the neighborhood, we encourage folks to call 311 … Report those properties to the city. The city will investigate those properties and will take appropriate action,” Journey said.
That’s exactly what Ball has been asking for, for years.
“I got the works … Everything is just lovely out here. I can come out here and enjoy my porch now, and I don’t have to worry about the wilderness,” Ball said.
If you find yourself in a similar situation dealing with an unmaintained lot in your community, the city says to call 311, and hold on to your case number.