UPDATED: Despite Complaints, Mosquito-Infested Toilet Remains on Boulevard

Old Fourth Ward homeowner asks: Why won't Atlanta enforce its own rules.

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.

Among them:

  • 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."

Chris Murphy September 07, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Bud, if you think *any* area of the city gets good service from Code Enforcement- or from Municipal Court- you're out of your mind. And- just tip the darn commode over and drain it.
Jeffrey Landers September 07, 2012 at 12:26 PM
If you need to, break the toilet up and throw the remnants in your trash can over several weeks...If the problem is rats, call Fulton County Health Department and complain. They do not play. Fines are astronomical. NOT kidding.
Eddie Nodal September 07, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Now we know why the city is a hot mess!!!!!
Space Ship September 07, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Anyone tried parking in the pastor's spot to see if it would spark the second coming? Just sayin'.
Marc Acampora September 07, 2012 at 01:42 PM
These are lame complaints. Instead of spraying and working for years to fight mosquitoes, while repeatedly calling the city, empty the toilet yourself or break the toilet into pieces with a hammer and drag the pieces to the curb to be taken out with the trash. If the church's painting of the street is illegal, it means it is not legally enforceable, so just treat it as any other section of street and, when the space is available, park there yourself. This is the victim mentality that you get from poor areas like this. They'll spend untold time and resources trying to get the government to solve the problem, but it wont even dawn on them that they may be able to solve the problem themselves.
Patch September 07, 2012 at 02:12 PM
got to agree with the comments above. Quit whining and take action in your own community. The Atlanta city govt employees are inept.
Péralte Paul (Editor) September 07, 2012 at 02:53 PM
I'm not sure it's fair to say it's whining. I'm not sure any homeowner would be expected to to police their neighbors and cleaning up human poop or pick up trash when there are enforcement codes that exist for that very reason. Besides, trash is a very serious concern as it creates the potential for vermin and then outbreak of disease.
Tomathy September 07, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Call the department of health on the guy who loves pooping behind the church, and the police the next time you see him pooping or changing in the road.
Zewditu Demissie September 07, 2012 at 03:45 PM
I wouldn't touch that toilet with a 10-foot pole.
Elizabeth A. September 07, 2012 at 04:15 PM
At a certain point, you have to take the responsibilty upon yourself to make changes. Since the city won't clean it up, why not organize a neighborhood clean-up day & just get it done?
Tomathy September 07, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Why doesn't the church take responsibility for their own property?
Elizabeth September 07, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Something has to be done about Wayne's block on Boulevard. The vacant lot is an eye sore and the rats and mosquitos are a concern for everyone. It is not whining when you have taken every step possible to remedy the situation and I would not have touched that filthy toilet either. Think of the disease!
Ashland88 September 08, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Ummmm, I read on the neighborhood blog that the guy who is complaining parks cars for his salon business on the vacant lot for free, yet he's complaining that it should be kept clean. Well if he has free parking on the lot, why doesn't he clean it up? Problem solved.
Ms. September 08, 2012 at 11:02 PM
"We don't mess with Jesus!" Considering the churches are the first place politicians stop to pander for votes, I almost believe some city employee was dumb enough to say that.
FamilyOfFour September 09, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Yeah, if I was getting a free parking lot next to my business which is on a busy street, I would clean up that area myself and claim it as my own. :) When I go on my daily walks, I now bring a plastic bag and just pick up trash here and there. I hate seeing it, it makes me mad, so I pick it up, throw it away..... problem solved. :) Neighborhood clean up days are tons of fun and very rewarding.
Tomathy September 09, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Donate the toilet to the church. They can install it behind the building so the "mad pooper" has a proper place to defecate.
E Keathley September 09, 2012 at 10:36 PM
I feel for the person calling the city over and over again about illegal dumping. Not that this helps, but I have to do this as well, and I live in Inman Park. This is a city wide issue. I absolutely believe the Jesus comment, and I also believe a lot of the city departments are likely understaffed. Now...I'm off to clean up the mess the homeless campers left next to my house, AGAIN.
PL January 03, 2013 at 09:23 PM
Hi Peralte (and all). Was there ever a follow up to this? Considering buying the property directly across from the church and curious if the parking or, more importantly, the "public defacation" were resolved - or if all of the above are still being witnessed around the neighborhood. And does anyone have info regarding popularity/Sunday foot traffic around the church? Wondering if it's a mess that would be routinely annoying to live in. Thanks for the article - always appreciate direct information pertaining to a particular block of town.
Péralte Paul (Editor) January 03, 2013 at 09:29 PM
Hi, PL: I haven't heard anything lately about it, but let me check and see what the latest is. I'll let you know what I find out.
PL January 03, 2013 at 09:30 PM


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