News 12 at 6 o' clock/ August 15, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga.--Blighted property and cleaning up downtown have been items on the city of Augusta's to do list for years.
But now, a group of people who call Augusta home say they're tired of waiting, and they're taking matters into their own hands.
Tony Gentry started the Facebook group 'Augusta Slumlords,' a group aimed at exposing code violations around town and properties in poor conditions.
Gentry said, "I hope it embarasses the owners. I cannot go anywhere and say I am proud to be from Augusta."
From graffiti on downtown buildings, to apartment owners not fulfilling their end of the bargain, every single code violation in Augusta-Richmond County has to go through Code Enforcement.
George Patty is the head of that department. He says, "7 code enforcement officers are responsible for the whole county and right now we've got over 7,000 cases open."
No small task. Which is why Patty doesn't think a little Facebook shaming is necessarily a terrible idea.
He says, "I'm certainly not opposed to that."
But, as group members continue to post pictures of blighted properties and dangerous code violations, they're hoping to get the ball rolling faster.
"Don't just let the bills pile up and say we're going to fine you one day, take them to court, let's go to court, let's get this rectified, lets get these buildings cleaned up," Gentry said.
But Patty says, they try to avoid going to court. He says, "We try to work with people within their means if possible,the last thing we want to do is get in the courts with them because that's a time consuming process for us, and we only have one end product really and that's demolition."
So, the Augusta Slumlord Facebook page will continue to do what they can to pressure property owners to clean up their acts.
Code enforcement says, if you see a violation or a problem with a property, call the city's 311 line. They will make sure the complaint gets to the right person from there.