2707 Penn Ave N – Help me close it down!

There is one last property on the 2700 block of Penn Ave N that is a real “problem property.”  Yes, Bob Zeman’s property at 2707 has been a problem for at least five years.  Lately, however, it  has been going down really fast.

Last summer, tenants there carried out buckets (large buckets!) of urine and dumped them on the property behind my garage.  It leaked into my garage, creating a real stinky greeting when I drove into the garage.  I called Mr. Zeman and suggested there might be a problem with his plumbing at this address, and he told me there were no problems.  I had to argue with him fiercely to get him to agree to check it out.

This year, tenants have been coming and going with increasing rapidity.  Mr. Zeman has told a mutual acquaintance that he tries not to let his buildings  stand vacant for more than a day and that he easily finds new tenants by waiting outside eviction hearings at the courthouse and offering his properties for rent to those who have been evicted.

The previous tenants were there for less than three weeks.   Worse, within 24 hours of their moving in, (1) there was a driveby shooting across the street (the person who was  shot in the leg seemed to be well  acquainted with one of the tenants), (2) the alley filled with litter as the tenants went through the trash to salvage clothing from the previous tenants, and (3) an old man who offered to rake my yard was beaten up.  During the time they were there, someone at the address backed his/her car into the garage across the alley, and neighbors observed people urinating in the backyard (that plumbing problem?), and our backyards were plagued with litter. We were all grateful to see them leave.

The new tenants, however, promise to be worse than any we’ve had before.  They moved in about midnight a few days ago.  They asked a neighbor if they could borrow a plunger today.  Will the plumbing ever get fixed?  The house has only one bathroom.  After that, the neighbor observed the tenants carrying a soggy bag of something semi-liquid out to the trash can.  Later, tenants were observed emptying what appeared to be a bucket of urine just outside the back door to the house.  Does this sound like a health hazard?

When I came home from work today, a car was getting ready to leave the driveway at 2707.  He got a bit impatient that I was coming from the opposite direction and he had to wait until I got my car into my driveway.  He drove very fast when he passed me.  He was back a few minutes later making a huge  amount of noise.  When I had come down the driveway, I had noticed that a neighbor’s brand new compost bin had blown partway into the alley (there was enough room to get past it).  The noise I heard coming down the alley was the same car that had left a minute earlier.  The driver had grabbed the compost bin and was dragging it down the alley alongside his car.  He deposited it in Zeman’s backyard (isn’t this theft?).

Then the fun really started.  There were ten (yes, 10) “kids” playing in the back yard.  Ages were probably 12-13 and  up.  It was extremely dangerous play.  Several of them climbed on that same car and laid down over the roof and trunk.  The driver then drove forward as fast as he could and slammed on the brakes, apparently trying to dislodge the kids.  Everyone was laughing, but it was alarming to see how much speed was achieved over the short distance between the alley and the house.  Someone could have been seriously hurt.

One of the new tenants backed into the garage across the alley.  This garage belongs to a really sweet man in his late 80s. He plows the alley and driveways for a number of us every winter and also clears the public sidewalk for about half of the entire block.  He doesn’t deserve this kind of behavior from Zeman’s tenants.

There appear to be a number of housing code violations at this property (plumbing that doesn’t work, screens missing from upstairs windows, etc.).  The owner refuses to screen tenants.  If  enough of us complain, tenants are kicked out, but they do a lot of damage before they leave and, in some cases, retaliate against those of us who complain.  Mr. Zeman lets them know who has complained.

We need to finish the work of cleaning up this block.  One more property to go…2707 Penn Ave N.


3 Responses

  1. Oh dear, this sounds awful!! Does Tim Hammett know about what’s going on? Also, do you have two other neighbors who could join you in submitting impact statements? My understanding is that three impact statements = attention from problem properties unit.

    Let me know what neighbors can do to help!

    • It’s suddenly very quiet over there this week. Tenants still there. Maybe they got word we’re watching…or maybe they’re just waiting for the weekend. I’ll be watching and waiting with camera in hand.

      Thanks for the support.

  2. I saw a post about this over on John Hoff’s blog. I am so sorry to hear about what you’re going through. I hope you’re able to do something about this guy and his tenants.

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