By Gary Jenkins
BAPA Safety Liaison
An often overlooked aspect of potential neighborhood safety concerns is abandoned and vacant properties. Although Beverly/Morgan Park is fortunate not to have an abundance of vacant properties, it is crucial that the community recognizes and responds appropriately to these issues as they arise.
The City of Chicago of Department of Buildings (DOB) accepts vacant property reports through 3-1-1, and is responsible for fielding all complaints regarding vacant and abandoned buildings. According to the City of Chicago’s website, “The City of Chicago requires that an owner of a vacant building register the building with the City once it is vacant for more than 30 days. Each owner of a vacant building is also required to secure, insure, and maintain that building as required by ordinance. Registration must be renewed every six months. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in significant penalties. The registered owner of a vacant building will receive a daily e-mail report of public service requests (3-1-1 calls) and police activity at the property, including 9-1-1 calls. If you register a property, you must deregister the property if it is reoccupied, sold, or demolished.”
Additionally, If residents have safety concerns about remodeling or rehabbing work being done on vacant or abandoned property, the DOB can investigate to determine whether proper permits were obtained. If the proper permits were not obtained, DOB inspectors will come out to the site to halt all work and attempt to contact the property owners. The work will not continue until all safety concerns have been addressed and all proper permits have been issued.
If any type of criminal activity is suspected in a vacant building, people should call 9-1-1. Once a service call is generated, the DOB works with the Chicago Police Department to investigate the complaint.
In the 22nd District, Officer James Connell is specifically assigned to address abandoned and vacant properties. If a property is abandoned or vacant and unsecured, Officer Connell will initiate an investigation to determine the property’s ownership status. If a property owner can be identified, efforts will be made to have the owner address any problems. If the owner does not address the situation or the owner cannot be located, Officer Connell will refer the property to the City of Chicago’s Law Department for legal action.
If residents have tangible information regarding illegal activity in a vacant or abandoned building, or if they have questions or concerns regarding potential troubled buildings, they should contact Officer Connell at 312-745-0620 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information can be found online at 311.chicago.gov.
Police districts across the city of Chicago are hosting District Strategic Plan Community Conversations 1 and 2 in October and November to get input on quality of life issues, law enforcement and community engagement. The first meeting for the 22nd District is Tues., Oct. 13, 6 to 9 p.m. via Zoom. District personnel will gather all of the information from that conversation to determine the top three crime reduction priorities and community engagement goals for the district. At the second Community Conversation residents will have the opportunity to comment and make suggestions on the district’s priorities and goals. Sign up for the first conversation at evenbrite.com/e/022nd-district-community-conversation-1-tickets-120580989987.