Citizen Code Enforcement Volunteers Set To Help City Fight Blight

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(Memphis) People tired of what they see and ready to reclaim their neighborhoods packed a room at the library.

"Back yard full of tires, rusted cars that cannot operate," said Tanja Mitchell of Uptown Memphis.

Mitchell has been looking at old tires and junk near her Uptown home, wondering when it will get cleaned.

She and about 50 other people learned what they can do at  the Code Enforcement Volunteer Orientation Monday morning .

They will be the eyes and ears in the fight against neighborhood blight.

Memphis covers a 324 square mile size, and with only 33 code inspectors, the city needs help.

"Citizens want to be a part of the solution and this will allow them to do just that," said Memphis Public Works Director Dwan Gilliom.

Volunteers will go through background checks, then, after classroom and field training, they will hit the streets with an eye out for  junk, weeds, and parking violations.

When neighbors see violations like old cars left in the front of houses, they can talk to the owners or, if they are not comfortable, turn it over to a code inspector.

Some neighbors still aren't sold.

"I want to make sure everyone is treated fairly, not falsely accused or there is too much invasion of a person's privacy," said Donna Bohannon of the Sea Isle Neighborhood.

Robert Gurley of Westwood said he hopes this effort doesn't die out like others in the past.

"It's a need, but you gotta follow up with enforcement. If you don't enforce, it's gonna be like it was before," said Gurley.

Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter was at the meeting Monday and says having another environmental court is going to help.

"We can hear double the cases we were able to before," said Potter.

With citizen help, they hope to get more problems cleaned up.

Anti-blight volunteers will begin training in March and should be working in neighborhoods by April.


  • Little Detroit

    You can swing a dead cat and hit several houses that don’t meet code in the Sea Isle neighborhood. Code Enforcement in Memphis is a joke. And has been for years. We could hire more Code Enforcement workers but then again we must renovate Beale Street and purchase Red Bird stadium first.

  • John John

    A code inspector can’t cover 10 square miles? So if they cover 1/4 square mile a day, it would take them 40 days?

  • sueq

    This just sounds like a recipe for disaster. Who says neighbors with a long history of disagreements won’t be harassing each other?! People don’t like to be confronted about their property by Code Enforcement–they REALLY won’t like it when a nosy neighbor confronts them. I see guns getting pulled and police intervention in the future…

  • Ohhhh Really Hmmmm!!

    This effort is not going to work as long as people continue to throw trash on the ground, park their cars across the lawns, landlords evicting throwing the items out on the curbs and not professionally having the items removed like in germantown. Memphis is nasty I feel bad for the people who want things to look better, the faster they pick up the trash the faster they will throw down more.

  • 1midtownmike

    Memphis never had a problem like this until forced integration.

    And an exhibit at the Pink Palace has the nerve (all in the name of political correctness) to say “we’re all the same.”

  • Melanie

    In theory it’s a great idea, but if code doesn’t follow up any better than the city follows up on 3-1-1 requests, then we’re back at square one. Wharton said with 3-1-1, that the numbers won’t lie about the needs of the city, but they close requests right and left without anything being remedied, so the numbers are looking GREAT, but we’re still stuck with curb trash spilling out into the street for over a month! The city charges for trash pick up, but never picks it ALL up. The city charges us for street light maintenance, but we’ve gone nearly 2 months without a streetlight…now they want help with code enforcement? I’m happy to help my neighborhood, but the city needs to step up and DO what the residents of Memphis PAY them to do first!

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