WILKES-BARRE -- To clean up the city of Wilkes-Barre, health and code officials were handing out fines for unkempt properties near Coal Street.
Video shot by Newswatch 16 shows Michael Torres wondering why a ticket was posted on his front door.
“They cited you for what’s in your backyard,” Mayor Tony George explained.
“Cited?” Torres asked.
That was the kind of confusion some people woke up to in homes across the city.
Code and health inspectors handed out these fines under a new operation called Taking it to the Streets.
Torres was cited for an unregistered car and junked construction debris. He wished he was given a little warning.
“It's a surprise to me right now. Every day is something different,” Torres said sighing while looking at the fine.
People were ticketed anywhere from $50 to $500 for overgrown lawns, abandoned cars, even couches on the front porch. Most of the fines were in the $100 range.
Wilkes-Barre Director of Health Henry Radulski said every violation has a direct effect on people’s health or safety.
“You have accumulation of trash or refuse in a yard on a porch, that attracts vermin, rodents, things like that,” Radulski said.
A few doors down, Raymond Kupris said he has felt cheated.
Living in his home for 83 years, he saw the neighborhood deteriorate.
“I'm just about out of sympathy for what's been going on here. So no, I'm not sympathetic to them,” Kupris said.
He hopes this ordinance brings back the area’s former glory.
“You could go anywhere on the street. Talk to the people. By the time you walk to the corner it might take 15 minutes because you're talking to this person, that person, that's gone,” Kupris said.
Some people we spoke to were relieved the tickets were being given out because the value of their homes have been going down because of these issues.
“Nobody should live next to garbage. You buy a house. You take care of it. Everybody on the street should do the same thing,” Mayor George said.
However, for people like Torres, coming up with the money to pay these fines will be difficult.
“It's real hard, especially with the bills, winter coming up and all that. It's really hard. Every day is a struggle,” Torres said.
People can refuse to pay these ticket. A citation will be issued, and then they can fight it in court.
In total, the three teams of inspectors on Wednesday issued 66 Quality of Life Ordinance Violation Tickets.
The top three violations were:
- Accumulations of Rubbish/Garbage
- High Grass Weeds or Plant Growth
- Abandoned Vehicles
Code and health officials will be checking each neighborhood one day a week in Wilkes-Barre until every area is covered.
The first neighborhoods being looked over are those with a higher-than-average number of complaints.