This is my favorite time of year. Winter is finally over, plants are just beginning to pop out of the ground, and the results of the College Park Resident Survey are in.
I like everything about the resident survey. I appreciate getting the opportunity to fill it out—it’s nice that the city even bothers to ask—and I especially like reading the written responses from residents. Who wouldn’t? Like comments on a website, the survey is anonymous, so residents are free to speak their mind, and if the Internet Age has taught us anything, it’s that people like to criticize and complain (and insult) anonymously.
That said, my favorite responses are found in the section that asks, “What do you like least about your neighborhood?” As you also might expect, a lot of the serious answers to this question pertain to the city’s perennial challenges: raucous students, crime and public safety, traffic, the lack of neighborhood amenities (grocery stores or restaurants) and problems caused by inconsiderate (or oblivious) residents, like noise and litter .
What’s interesting about the last item on this list is that, unlike the preceding issues - which the city can’t address without assistance from the university, additional revenues or state funding, or interest from developers - many of the problems caused by inconsiderate residents can be addressed through the city’s code enforcement process.
Yet, based on the survey responses like, “no code enforcement for the things that really matter,” “unkempt yards, yards filled with garbage, houses in poor states of repair,” “dog owners who keep their pets out at night and ignore their howling,” and “noisy student rentals,” one gets the feeling that the residents who are upset about the neighbors’ inconsiderate behavior are either unaware or reluctant to file a complaint with the city’s code enforcement staff.
I know: it’s hard to tell from these brief written responses whether the folks who wrote them are aware of how the city’s code enforcement process works or whether they feel comfortable registering a complaint. But, based on my experience with my neighbors on the things that have taken place on my street, it’s clear that few people enjoy “telling” on a neighbor who doesn’t play nice with his or her neighbors.
Nevertheless, because the city’s code enforcement process is “complaint based,” residents who really want something done about those houses in disrepair, questionably parked cars, or noisy neighbors, have two options: contacting code enforcement or grin and bear it.
Smith, a resident of north College Park, blogs at www.ncpinformant.com.