The Virginian-Pilot reports that the Norfolk City Council had its annual retreat in Smithfield today and one of the things they addressed was the increase in crime in the City. Specifically they mentioned increasing efforts in Denby Park in the Wards Corner area, the Pleasant Avenue area of East Ocean View and Huntersville initially. Later this year efforts will expand to 10 other troubled neighborhoods, including Park Place and Fairmount Park.
The tools that the City intends to use are increased police patrols, code enforcement sweeps to clean up blighted property, and the rental inspection program that the Partnership has already been briefed on:
The interior of most rental units in the three neighborhoods would be inspected for code violations. If a unit passed, it would not be inspected again for four years.
Landlords also would be required to register a name, address and phone number with the city.
Norfolk also would initiate landlord-city neighborhood improvement agreements. Landlords would be encouraged to do criminal background checks on tenants and to ban illegal behavior, such as drug dealing. In return, the city would provide enhanced services, such as improved lighting and sidewalks.
Surveillance cameras also would likely be used along several blocks of the three neighborhoods, although details haven’t been finalized.
Notably, the Council did decide to follow through and turn Denby Park, Oakdale Farms, and Monticello Village into a conservation area:
The council also directed Williams to begin the process of turning three Wards Corner neighborhoods into conservation areas, which is required for the city’s housing authority to be able to offer loans to rehabilitate housing.
Denby Park, Oakdale Farms and Monticello Village “were promised this,” Councilwoman Theresa Whibley said. “We need to keep that promise.”
Although not entirely clear or explained, it appears the increased patrols and code enforcement will only last a year:
“We believe we have to focus an intensive effort for a year to get these neighborhoods empowered,” Williams said.
Let’s hope that a year is all that it takes to empower those neighborhoods and let’s hope that there is a “bold move” around the corner.