Annual Neighborhood Inspections Begin
COLUMBIA - The Office of Neighborhood Services started its annual neighborhood inspections for central parts of Columbia Wednesday. The city has conducted these on-the-street property inspections for about 10 years, but since the Office of Neighborhood Services started in 2010, officials have expanded to about 3,500 properties. Compliance rates are also up from less than 50 percent to more than 80 percent since the program started.
The inspections occur once a week, usually Wednesdays, from about 9:00 a.m. until about 10:30 a.m. ONS officials said residents are always warned about the inspections about three weeks prior by a yellow door hanger on resident's front doors. Each week the team looks for code violations like peeling paint, sagging roofs and gutters, cracked foundations, trash in yards, unlicensed vehicles and standing water. Officials look for these violations from the public right-of-way, then follow-up depending on the type of violation.
"The whole program is based on the "broken windows" theory," ONS coordinator Bill Cantin said. "The idea being is that in a lot of neighborhoods where there is high crime and a lot of problems, what has happened is the physical environment has deteriorated to a point that it looks bad, so people think it's bad and don't take ownership of it. So our idea is to reverse that."
Cantin said by addressing the physical environment, he hopes to bring properties into compliance and also address social problems.
City officials are focusing on homes primarily in central parts of Columbia. The area is broken up into grids, and the Neighborhood Improvement Team looks at about 250 homes per week. Target spots include areas of Ash St., Worley St., West Blvd. up to Business Loop 70 and over to Old Highway 63. For a map of the boundaries, click here.
Cantin said if you live in those boundaries, you can find out when a team will be in your area by calling his office at (573) 874-7248 or email him at bpcantin@GoColumbiaMO.com.