Tampa code enforcement plans crackdown to clean up blight spots - FOX 13 News

Tampa code enforcement plans crackdown to clean up blighted areas

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Sheila Booker and her 4-year-old granddaughter Sapphire enjoy strolling around their north Tampa neighborhood between Linebaugh and Busch boulevard, but their path isn't always so scenic.

"They drive through and they actually throw their trash out of their car and onto the streets. You see things from Pampers to furniture," Booker said.

Couches, tires and other junk litter the streets and roads.

"We see it everywhere. We see it everywhere. I don't like trash. I don't like clutter so it upsets us when we see trash on the side of the road," Booker said.

Sheila is not the only one who has noticed. Mayor Bob Buckhorn has had enough of it. He wants to crack down on cleaning up neighborhoods in north and central Tampa. The push comes after the discovery of illegal apartment trailers parked behind the office of former Port Authority Chairman William "Hoe" Brown.

Inspectors said the conditions inside were so deplorable. Brown stepped down after the find.

"Once it starts happening, you have got to get on it right away or it will just continue to grow," said Code enforcement district supervisor Susan Wenrick.

Inspectors like Wenrick will issue citations, fines and court dates to slumlords and violators.

"Even if you get it all cleaned up, you've got to continue to monitor it to make sure it is maintained and stays cleaned up," she said.

Those in the neighborhood like Shelia and her granddaughter can't wait.

"I'll be glad when they do stop. Maybe if they give them enough fines they will stop making such a mess," she said.

Neighborhood enhancement officers will target serious blight issues. Inspectors will issue only civil citations, essentially fines for minor code violations, or a Notice to Appear before a Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge.

There are three specific areas with known blight issues within central and north Tampa that will be targeted over the next month. Those areas are:

Florida Avenue east to 22nd street between Busch Boulevard and Linebaugh Avenue

Central Avenue east to Florida Avenue between Bird Street and Sligh Avenue

50th Street East to 58th Street between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Interstate 4.

To complete the operation successfully, six inspectors will be dedicated to the program, and will be out in the community seven days a week. The program will be re-evaluated after the first month.

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