Wayne Brawner isn't trying to fight Atlanta City Hall.
All the Old Fourth Ward homeowner says he wants is for the city government to enforce its codes.
But two issues stretching over a year — one involving an illegal church parking sign and the other a mosquito-infested toilet in the lot adjacent to his Boulevard home — has him flustered and flushed.
"The city not following their code," Brawner explained, showing scores of e-mail correspondence with city officials over longstanding problems he's identified in his community.
"I can e-mail all of this to them, but its specific departments that do not follow through. What's the point of me e-mailing when the city departments don't follow through?"
Brawner, who lives in the 70 block of Boulevard and purchased his home in 2006, says the toilet bowl has sat there in the lot at 67 Boulevard for over a year.
Despite reams of complaints and e-mails to City Hall and the lot's owner, the Historic District Development Corp., it remains.
He said he has sprayed his yard with pest control products to keep the mosquitoes at bay, but that's proven to be an exercise in futility since the adjoining lot not only is a breeding ground for the bugs, but a magnet for rats.
"I can't even enjoy my backyard for the swarm of mosquitoes," Brawner said, adding he believes the issue stems from a lack of respect from city departments for the Old Fourth Ward.
"If it were Inman Park or Virginia-Highland, this would not have happened because it would be taken care of," he said, explaining he lived in Inman Park for 12 years and noticed a stark difference in response and action with respect to that community compared with Old Fourth Ward.
"They don’t want to do the work," he said of city agencies. "It's like they're holding this neighborhood captive. They don't want to see this neighborhood grow."
On Friday, Jesse Clark, the Historic District Development Corp.'s executive director, told Patch the toilet had been removed on Tuesday, and that in the short-term, the plans are to clean up the lot and convert it into a temporary public space.
He said he sent an e-mail to the neighborbood residents informing them of the immediate plans for the lot.
Long-term, he said the lot would be redeveloped and that HDDC is reviewing development options for other properties it owns in the neighborhood.
The toilet bowl issue is just one example that he said underscores several systemic problems and — as he sees it — inaction from city government.
All of the problems are in full public view, he said, because he sees them on a regular basis on morning walks with his dog.
At 64 Hogue St., home to the Zion Tabernacle F B H Church, there's a giant box painted on the street in front of the building that says the parking for its pastor.
The sign is illegal and despite complaints from him and Matthew W. Garbett, the president of Fourth Ward Neighbors to city parking and police officials, the sign not only remains, but also has been expanded to take up an even wider portion of the street.
No one answered the door at the church Tuesday nor answered telephone calls Wednesday and Thursday.
Jay Tribby, chief of staff to Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall, whose district includes Old Fourth Ward, said the sign is illegal.
"The church cannot paint the city street and claim it as 'the pastor's,' " Tribby wrote in an e-mail to East Atlanta Patch.
"When we received a notification about this a few weeks ago, we asked the City's Public Works Dept to follow up. Even residential permit parking does not guarantee a permit holder a specific or "private" parking spot. In a neighborhood such as Inman Park, anyone with a residential parking permit is allowed to park on a given block."
One interaction with the Atlanta Police Department last year over the sign left Brawner particularly floored, he said.
Brawner said that when he called APD's Zone 5, which had enforcement jurisdiction over Old Fourth Ward at the time, to file a complaint, he was rebuffed.
" 'We don't mess with Jesus,' " Brawner said he was told, recounting the exchange.
A public works department spokeswoman said Friday the agency is investigating.
That it remains after year, underscores why some of the arguably bigger problems that he and his neighbors have pointed out remain.
- Heaps of trash and dirt left in lots on Boulevard
- A man off Hogue and Old Wheat streets who routinely strips and changes clothes on in full view of pedestrians
- Public defecation behind the church itself
"Every neighborhood has issues," Brawner said. "I want to know why the city has not taken action. It’s called neglect and it's neglect from the neighbors respecting each other's property and the city departments, they just brush it under the rug."