‘It’s a continual eyesore,’ Neighbors, city want house cleaned up

OKLAHOMA CITY - One family's trash is an entire neighborhood's displeasure.

Heaps of garbage and discarded items sit on the front lawn, overflowing at times into the street in a generally well-kept area near N.W. 42nd and Pennsylvania Ave.

"You name it, we’ve probably worked it out there," said Charles Locke, Oklahoma City's code enforcement superintendent. "We’ve had a lot of calls. The inspector’s out there all the time."

In all, the city has received 236 complaints on the two properties since 2009.

Common strategies, including fines and liens, have failed to make a difference, Locke said.

"The problem is we can’t change his behavior," Locke said. "All we can do is fine him."

People like Tom Levescy aren't convinced the city has exhausted all its options.

Levescy grew up in the area and moved to a house down the street 11 years ago.

"It’s important that we hold up our end of the bargain and maintain our property," he told NewsChannel 4. "It impacts their perception of people who live in that neighborhood and go to school in that neighborhood."

Levescy's frustration is directed less at the family that lives in the house and more toward the city itself. During public comment Tuesday, he told the council other, better-off neighborhoods would have an easier time getting things done.

"If the city doesn’t have the tools to enforce its own codes, that’s the issue here," he said. "The code enforcement folks are throwing up their hands and saying there’s nothing we can do and, if that’s the case, then they don’t have the right tools."

Code enforcement officials told NewsChannel 4 it will consider defining the property as a public nuisance and taking the family to district court.

The family that lives in the home told NewsChannel 4 it has fallen on tough times and is struggling to pay the fines the city has already levied.

The homeowner calls the property embarrassing and humiliating but said no one - including the city - is offering to help.

"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem," the homeowner told NewsChannel 4 in exchange for anonymity. "It's a process. I'm working on it."