According to today’s DNA Info, West Ridge ranks third in rat complaints in the City of Chicago. Of the 46,879 resident complaints about rats in 2016, 1,529 came from West Ridge. The 2017 City total is already 1,500 complaints higher than 2016.
The article notes that the areas with the greatest number of complaints also have the highest-density population, the greatest number of restaurants, and the largest amount of trash. Construction also plays a role. To be fair, West Ridge includes parts of the 40th and 48th Wards as well as the 50th.
But doesn’t Devon Avenue immediately come to mind?
The Mayor now admits that Chicago’s rat problem is serious enough to warrant “preventive work,” like baiting before tearing up an area for utility and other construction.
Chicago is way behind the times. Pre-construction baiting is routine in other cities, large and small. Here’s the ordinance for Alexandria, Virginia. It requires that an area be baited for seven days before construction work begins. Boston requires that proof of anti-pest measures be furnished before building permits are issued.
The Mayor is also supporting a proposed ordinance that would extend responsibility for cleaning up dog poop to property owners. This being Chicago, no program can go forward unless it includes a way to extract fines and/or fees from residents.
Existing ordinances require dog owners to clean up after their pets, but far too many don’t. Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa has proposed making property owners and/or managers responsible for what pet owners refuse to do. Fines would be the same as those levied on irresponsible owners ($50 – $500). They, of course, can’t be found, but the building isn’t going anywhere. This makes it easy to identify and fine an owner who is in no way responsible for the pigs who won’t clean up after their pets.
It’s a bad idea.
By all means let’s require pre-construction baiting for city services and utility work, and let’s include construction work, like streetscapes and building renovation.
But leave the property owners alone when it comes to dog poop. Responsible owners have enough to do picking up the oceans of garbage dumped on lawns and parkways every day.
The very least pet owners can do is clean up after their dogs. The City should find a way to identify irresponsible pet owners and fine them. It should do the same with the people who dump their garbage all over our streets.
To control the rodents, we have to start controlling the pigs who feed them.