A Clean Community is a Safe Community
As children, many of us were reminded by our parents to clean our rooms. As adults, keeping our living space clean and declutterd is still important, but our responsibility now stretches beyond the confines of our own bedrooms and homes to touch our community as well.
It is the responsibility of community members to keep their neighborhoods safe and free of blight. Blight refers to an urban area that is subject to neglect, and it can come in many forms, from abandoned homes to graffiti on the sides of businesses. Blight negatively impacts the entire community. It leads to a decrease in community engagement and an increase in crime, as well as a negative impact on property values.
How can residents help to fight blight in their neighborhoods? There are multiple ways communities can come together to clean up their streets and take a stand against blight. These include:
Document the costs of inaction: Commission studies show how blighted properties drain local and county budgets, as well as the social and economic costs on neighborhoods.
Organize blighted/vacant property working groups: Convene a cross section of public, private and nonprofit leaders to develop more comprehensive and coordinated responses to blight, including changes in state and local laws.
Launch a good landlord program: Offer incentives to review landlords who maintain their properties blight- and crime-free.
Conduct targeted code enforcement: Place-based code enforcement can stimulate market activity in selected neighborhoods through comprehensive property maintenance actions.
Explore urban greening opportunities (gardening, urban agriculture, green infrastructure, etc.) to address vacant lots and blighted land.
Safe Streets is no stranger to helping neighborhoods fight blight. Every year, they partner with the City of Tacoma to host Community Clean-up events, where people can bring in trash from their communities to throw away free of charge, encouraging people to clean up their yards and their homes. In fact, this program has been so successful that Pierce County held their first County Clean-up in Parkland on Saturday November 7th.
We had about 40 people volunteer at the Cleanup, with 30 students from Washington High School leading the effort. We had around over 100 people come through to drop of trash, many of them multiple times. We had around a dozen garbage bins full of garbage and reusable stuff taken away. The County’s clean-up event was a great success and showcased how when neighbors and county officials work together to achieve a goal, great things can be accomplished.
We also would like to take a moment to recognize our community and government partners who have helped to make this clean-up possible! A big thank you goes out to the following groups:
● 117th & A Street Neighborhood Group
● East Parkland Blockwatch
● Parkland Neighborhood Group
● Garfield Street Business Association
● Pierce County Public Works
● Waste Connections
● Solid Waste Advisory Committee
This will certainly not be the last County Clean-up! We currently are in the process of working with Pierce County Public Works and Waste Connections to organize a South Parkland clean-up for the spring. Check out Facebook and Twitter pages for updates as the project develops.