Since pandemic, Miami neighborhood overrun with abandoned properties, dumping

MIAMI, Fla. – Many city agencies haven’t held their regular meetings in at least six months, which has created a backlog of complaints, especially when it comes to code enforcement of unsafe structures.

Residents in one Miami neighborhood are demanding action after they are growing tired of living amidst abandoned homes that are turning their community into a dumping ground.

Local 10 has learned right now that there is a backlog currently of 33 cases in the city of Miami because of COVID-19. It’s because unsafe structures’ hearings in Miami have been put on hold.

Steve Wright feels like he’s surrounded.

“Within spitting distance of my house, there are four vacant lots. They have all been neglected for more than a year,” Wright said.

Next door, there’s an abandoned duplex, two doors down is an abandoned house and behind that, there’s another abandoned structure.

His street is across from Bryant Park in the District 4 section of Miami.

Wright said the situation has attracted squatters. The abandoned property is being used as an illegal dumping spot. The resident said the scenario sends a message and that trash breeds trash.

“It says, ‘We don’t care. Pile it on. It’s already crappy,” he said.

And, Wright is frustrated with what he sees as a run around about the problem.

“Every time we call, it’s five different department deputy heads saying, ‘It’s right around the corner, sir. We will have this fixed up.’ And then it falls right back,” Wright said.

Miami Commissioner Manolo Reyes said: “We are on top of it. We are doing everything that is with in our power.”

The commissioner’s chief of staff showed Local 10 emails between city departments dating back to June on the issues that plague the area.

Because of COVID-19, the city’s code enforcement board and unsafe structures panel hasn’t met in over six months, which has caused a backlog. Reyes said it can’t happen overnight as there is a protocol that needs to be followed.

In the case of abandoned property, Reyes said owners have to be found, put on notice, given adequate time to rectify the situation, and, in some cases, the city has to go to court.

“We don’t have the authority of going into the place and taking possession of the place or (to) demolish it or sell it. No, it has to go through the process and we have to go to court,” Reyes said.

Wright believes there is only one thing that has to be done.

“The city has to fix this,” Wright said.

After the months-long absence of the unsafe structures’ panel meetings, code enforcement is expected to resume in person meetings this week. One of the properties is scheduled before the panel on Friday, Local 10 learned.

And there are also efforts to find a way to stop the dumping. Reyes’ office has requested that the the city of Miami police department install cameras to catch the illegal dumpers in the act.

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