Perpetual peeves

From the more things change, the more they stay the same file, News Hits offers up the latest list of gripes Detroit residents have about their city. Damned if it doesn’t look a whole lot like last year’s list, which looked a lot like the list produced the year before that.

Doing the tallying is Detroit ombudsman John Eddings, who keeps track of complaints city residents lodge with his office. Once again, abandoned vehicles top the list. The problem is clearly No. 1, reports Eddings, saying 20 percent of the gripes coming in are related to junked cars. But don’t expect to see improvement anytime soon. According to Eddings’ report, a recent court case “had the effect of diminishing the enforcement powers of the Police Department when seeking to tow inoperable vehicles off private property.” Police without a court order can no longer tow junkers away. Instead, they can only issue citations.

Moving up the list from its traditional perch on the No. 5 spot is the longtime scourge of dead and dangerous trees, which hit No. 2 this year. “Falling branches are destroying property, and seriously injuring passers-by,” states the report.

Also prominent on the list was street lighting (or, more specifically, the lack of it). This issue, according to the report, has made it into the Top 15 list every year for a decade.

In a similar vein, illegally dumped garbage and other debris-related issues, holding down the No. 4 spot, is “another perennial problem.”

Rounding out the top five are weed-strewn lots, which Eddings describes as the “complaint cousin” of debris. The issue crept ahead one spot from last year.

And what about our favorite issue? Abandoned buildings — that is, open, dilapidated and dangerous structures, registered No. 7 this year, down from the previous year’s No. 4 spot. Such structures, reports Eddings, “can be the first death-knell of an expiring neighborhood. One vacant building can lead to more and more on a block, until the entire block is wiped out.”

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