It's unsightly, dangerous, and is destroying neighborhoods. Mayor Bob Buckhorn says urban blight is a big problem in parts of Tampa and now the city is cracking down on it.
Linda Coomey is one of the code enforcement officers who started sweeping through neighborhoods Sunday. She's on a 30-day mission to fight the blight in her assigned zone. News Channel 8 followed Coomey as she checked out properties along 99th Street Sunday. She wrote several citations for junk cars and trash piled high in yards.
“We're not asking for permission,” explained Mayor Buckhorn. “We're going to go in and kick some butt and take some names.”
Buckhorn says the crackdown follows the scandalous resignation of Tampa Port Authority Chairman William “Hoe” Brown for being an alleged slumlord.
“I think the situation two or three weeks ago just pointed out to all of us that we have an obligation to do better,” said Buckhorn.
Buckhorn has ordered all code enforcers, in the city's recently reorganized department, to work overtime for the next month to target irresponsible property owners. He says the goal of the sweep is to clean up problem properties, which if left alone, can spread like cancer through communities.
“It just spreads from house to house to house,” Buckhorn said. “Soon if this place isn't boarded up correctly the drug dealers and the prostitutes and the gang bangers will kick the windows in and kick the doors in and basically take over places like this and ruin an entire neighborhood.”
Tampa's Neighborhood Services Director says there are about 6,000 abandoned properties on the books in the city.