Orphaned properties becoming an urban epidemic in Dallas



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Posted on June 30, 2014 at 10:10 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 30 at 9:54 PM

DALLAS — Twyla Thrasher lives right in the middle of a double whammy: “A jungle, a mini-jungle of bamboo."

The lot behind her and the one beside her both appear abandoned and overgrown by bamboo. In fact, the invasive vegetation is taking over her fence, towering over her house, and is traveling underground; springing up in her yard now.

And that’s not the only thing migrating from the vacant plots.

Thrasher said animal sounds also come out of there. "Like screaming for their lives; like they are getting attacked," she said. "I’ve found muskrats, squirrels, dead dogs, and dead cats in my backyard."

Thrasher said she has complained about the situation. "This has been since last year when I moved here, and nothing has gotten done," she said, adding that it seemed the adjacent property owners didn’t care if they look bad to their next-door neighbor.

But nobody likes to look bad on TV.

News 8 contacted the people in charge of the properties next to Thrasher's. We were told they were in a meeting and no one ever called back.

But a week later, we returned to the address — and it appears that they got the message. The owner chopped down all the stalks of bamboo.

The lot still doesn’t look beautiful, but it is better.

The derelict grounds behind Twyla Thrasher remain a full-fledged mess. We weren’t able to reach that owner, and the City of Dallas isn’t having a lot of success, either.

Five official warnings haven’t spurred action. The property looks like so many others that have been neglected or outright abandoned by owners.

Dallas Code Compliance estimates there are now 50,000 vacant lots in the city. Municipal workers now make about 30,000 maintenance visits a year cleaning up and mowing many of those orphaned addresses across Dallas.

Code Compliance says the number of the problem properties has been increasing, and they expect the number to rise again this year.

Anyone who is having a problem with a nearby property that appears overgrown or abandoned should contact City Services by dialing 311.

E-mail jwheeler@wfaa.com