Gang violence, drug use, graffiti spark renewed push to clean up West Berkeley park

City maintenance workers have been cutting back and clearing out brush as part of an effort to clean up Strawberry Creek Park. Photo: Emilie Raguso

City workers have been cutting back and clearing out brush as part of an attempt to clean up Strawberry Creek Park. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Stepped up police patrols, trimmed-back bushes and increased efforts to clean up graffiti around Strawberry Creek Park are among a slew of recent steps by the city following two troubling incidents in March, including a drive-by shooting nearby and the violent robbery of a Berkeley middle school student.

Community members around the West Berkeley park have been asking for help from the city to make changes. They cite frequent problems in the area related in part to its use as a hang-out by youth — including many who reportedly have gang ties. Drug sales and the smoking of marijuana at all hours are said to be regular sights.

Police have been called to the park, which runs from Addison Street to south of Bancroft Way just west of Bonar Street, numerous times since November. A variety of incidents have been reported: from drive-by shootings and robberies to ongoing problems with gang graffiti on buildings in the vicinity. And it’s not the first time the area has been a source of concern. In 2012, neighbors rallied after two shootings nearby — which both involved multiple victims — that led to community meetings and grassroots attempts to get organized to combat the violence.

Recently, Councilman Darryl Moore (District 2) called for a meeting with several city staffers, who are involved with local parks or work at the police department, to come up with potential solutions to cut down on crime and improve conditions.

“I’ve been getting a lot of calls about groups of kids smoking marijuana,” said Moore on Thursday. “A lot of people use the park, but residents have been telling me they don’t always feel safe.”

Police have identified the area around Strawberry Creek Park repeatedly in recent months as a known hang-out for gang members. In late February, police arrested two men identified as gang members after they allegedly hurled bottles at an officer patrolling nearby. Approximately two weeks later, just west of the park, several males identified by police as gang members allegedly punched a teenager and robbed him of his cellphone. In late March, a drive-by shooting upset local residents; police haven’t publicly identified the culprits as gang members or otherwise.

The neighborhood was also featured in a rap video posted earlier this year that promotes gang activity, drug use and violence.

Councilman Moore, right, met with four city staffers earlier this month to discuss how to fix up Strawberry Creek Park. Photo: Ryan Lau

Councilman Moore, right, met with four city staffers earlier this month to discuss how to fix up Strawberry Creek Park. Photo: Ryan Lau

Moore and his aide Ryan Lau met with Parks Recreation & Waterfront superintendent Susan Ferrara, parks director Scott Ferris and two representatives from the Berkeley Police Department — Capt. Erik Upson and Sgt. Spencer Fomby — to walk through the park recently to identify problems they could try to fix.

Among their recommendations: trimming back low bushes and other vegetation to open up ground-level views into the park; replacing a light post at the basketball court that had been taken down and ensuring that existing lights are in working order; working with property owners and city staff to paint over graffiti promptly; installing several new trash bins; and considering the removal of two little-used community bulletin boards that tend to attract graffiti.

Many of those steps have taken place since the meeting, though Moore spotted new graffiti on the back of the Berkeley Youth Alternatives building, which abuts the park, during a brief walk Thursday. (He said he would report it promptly and was confident it would be addressed.)

Moore said his office is also investigating what it might take to get pedestrian lighting, which could potentially be paid for with Measure WW money, installed along the park’s pathways to increase safety. And he plans to look into the possibility of getting cameras installed on at least one nearby building to help discourage criminal activity and help identify those responsible for causing problems.

The corner of Bonar Street and Allston Way in Berkeley, as seen in the "Hot Boi Weez Mob Nigga" video.

The corner of Bonar Street and Allston Way in Berkeley, as seen in the the “Mob Nigga” video by Hot Boi Weez. (Click to view the video.)

Recent rap video disturbs residents, officials

In recent months, some residents became concerned after seeing a rap music video, posted online on YouTube in February, that was shot in part on Bonar Street and promotes gang activity, drug use and violence.

Moore said he saw the video about two weeks ago, and had been “shocked” by its contents and “how brazen it was.”

“It’s celebrating all the wrong things,” he said.

Moore forwarded the video to police, who told him they were already aware of it and knew many of the people featured in it. Moore said police also told him that many of the youth who are causing problems in the area grew up in Berkeley but have since moved out — though that hasn’t stopped them from returning to hang out in the park and its environs.

Bonar Street, at Allston Way, appears prominently in the rap video. Moore said the block of Bonar south of Allston is one of the “top three” problem blocks in his West Berkeley district.

He said the city has been working hard in recent years to reach out to property owners on the block to make physical adjustments — such as adding gates or doors on buildings to increase security — and also to pursue Section 8 contract violations to remove tenants who seem to be “causing major problems.”

But some property owners have been more receptive to those ideas than others, said Moore. There have been definite successes as a result, he added, but substantial room for improvement remains.

Gang-related graffiti is a common sight near Strawberry Creek Park, particularly on the Berkeley Youth Alternatives building, as shown here. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Gang-related graffiti is a common sight near Strawberry Creek Park, particularly on the Berkeley Youth Alternatives building, as shown here. The number 14 — spray painted on both of these murals — signifies an affiliation with the Norteño street gang. Photos: Emilie Raguso

Gangs, graffiti, problematic properties, drug use among most common problems

Local residents and frequent visitors to the area have written to Berkeleyside, as well as in its comment section, to share concerns about the prevalent graffiti, as well as issues related to partying in the park, drug sales, abandoned vehicles, weapons, acts of violence, negligent landlords, apparent gang activity and other problems.

In the past, residents have complained about slow response times to deal with local blight and behavioral issues, and a seeming lack of concern by the city.

“The Berkeley Youth Alternatives (BYA) building and mural are routinely tagged,” wrote one Berkeleyside reader, who identified as a park neighbor, last fall. “Tables in the park are routinely repainted by a neighbor who keeps a supply of paint in order to maintain the park. While the park’s appearance is one thing, the violence is of course the more serious issue. Sure wish there was some sign that the city cared. I am guessing the recurring dice games and graffiti would not be tolerated in playgrounds in the hills.”

One resident said this week, however, that he’s seen at least one sign of progress — albeit likely a temporary one — in that the building on the southeast corner of Bonar and Allston has remained graffiti-free for several weeks, since it was last painted over. In the past, he said, new tags tended to be slung back up within a couple days of cleaning.

Residents have said, previously, they believed local authorities and officials have tried to minimize the gang issue in Berkeley, and have resisted acknowledging it in public settings.

Moore said this week that Berkeley Police officers he has talked with appear to be well informed about the gang problem, and added that he has appreciated that the department has been “recognizing and verbalizing that gangs exist.”

The community needs to do more work to provide positive opportunities for local youth, said Moore, but must also not hesitate to continue to crack down on people involved with gangs or other criminal activity.

In the wake of the recent violence, police stepped up patrols in the neighborhood to try to discourage incidents of crime. Berkeley Police Lt. Dave Frankel — who oversees public safety in West Berkeley — said, however, that while that approach can work in the short term, police don’t have the resources to allocate those units indefinitely. Residents need to be proactive about reporting problems to police, he said, if they want continued action.

The city is planning to remove two unused bulletin boards in the park. Photo: Emilie Raguso

The city is planning to remove two unused bulletin boards in the park; one is shown on the left. Planks in the bridge over Strawberry Creek have been replaced, and new trash bins (right) have been added to clean up the park, which is popular with cyclists. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Moore said he feels optimistic about a new campaign underway by the Berkeley Police Department to reshape its beat map to redeploy its limited resources around the city, and is hopeful there will be more officers in West Berkeley as a result. (Moore is in the process of planning a community meeting to collect feedback about that plan, which will be considered by council in coming months.)

And he said he wants to see the community and city work together to continue to better the park, which he described Thursday afternoon as “in fairly good shape.” Members of the public walked their dogs, cycled over sun-lit gently-rolling pathways, and sat by the creek as it gurgled beneath verdant trees. The mood was peaceful and the park’s facilities were tidy and inviting.

But the play area — with its popular slide — was nearly empty, perhaps due to the time of day. And several young visitors were indeed smoking marijuana in the park where it intersects with Allston Way.

“These need to be sustained efforts,” Moore said. “I don’t want to see the improvements or the energy go away in a few months.”

Teen punched during robbery by Berkeley gang members (03.31.14)
Police on 3 shootings: ‘Responding to these incidents is our top priority’ (03.28.14)
Police respond to shooting in West Berkeley (03.25.14)
Neighbors talk surveillance, robberies, code enforcement at community meeting (03.07.14)
Gang members arrested after hurling bottles at police (02.25.14)
Teen arrested after cellphone robbery in Berkeley (01.31.14)
Teen arrested after robbery tied to medical cannabis buy (12.12.13)
Shots fired early Saturday near West Berkeley park (11.02.13)
Berkeley residents tackle safety issues after shootings (03.21.12)
Community meeting called in wake of Berkeley shootings (03.13.12)
Three men shot, wounded early Sunday in West Berkeley (03.05.12)
3 people shot on Bonar Street, no life-threatening injuries (03.02.12)
Neighbors fight to save Strawberry Creek Park slide (12.02.11)
Berkeley youth program gets temporary reprieve (07.01.11)
Crime prevention top of mind for Berkeley community (05.05.11)

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  • bgal4

    Chief Butler (4 chiefs back ) requested an environmental analysis and a set of recommendations from one of BPD most competent officers working flatland areas. That report (essentially CPTED) was reviewed by city hall yet and police brass. Nothing changed, I repeat NOTHING resulting from yet another effort to address the obvious. One of the primary factors at Strawberry Creek park making it difficult to police is line of site from surrounding blocks.

    Moore knows the police dept is down at least 40 cops, so who is he kidding about more cops to west Berkeley. Rather than educate the public on how to improve policing and gang prevention services Moore like all the council members plays to his uninformed constituent emotions.

    Operationally BPD is improving slowly. I am hoping the beat realignment exercise results in re-establishing a citywide unit for violence and gang suppression which operates smarter and focuses on recidivism, particularly in the era of realignment.

    As for neighborhood level empowerment, implement a citywide framework of neighborhood council based on monthly problem solving methodology. Oh yeah, we can’t do that, accountability to the public is against Berkeley politics.

  • EBGuy

    The owner of the corner apartment building, 2201 Bonar, lives in the Outer Sunset in SF. Many of her SF properties passed title to her company TP Pham LLC in the 2008 time frame. It appears she is under a lot of financial duress due to a 2011 judgement against her and other loan guarantors in Cupertino Square LLC vs GRAMERCY WAREHOUSE FUNDING I LLC (see Santa Clara County Superior Court Case 1-08-CV-109461). She is on the hook for $8,797,500 and Gramercy recorded a NOTICE OF PENDENCY OF ACTION in January, 2014 in SF. It looks like Gramercy is trying to force the sale of properties that she (and her LLC own) in order to fulfill her indebtedness. All this to say, I don’t think she’ll be sprucing up that place any time soon. Hopefully there will be a forced sale of the property some time (soon?!) in the future, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  • guest

    Why does the Council and City even bother with requesting so many costly reports when they never seem to do anything to solve the problems that they outline?

  • Just Sayin

    A few cameras looking out of the homes on the West side of Bonar could go a long way to providing some video evidence on these acts. Just so long as the cameras can’t see into someones window/door they are totally legal.

  • bgal4

    BYA should be required to install cameras on their building.

  • TN

    As much as that corner building needs re-sprucing, that building isn’t the property where the problems originate. The problem property is in the middle of that block. The address can be clearly seen in one of the videos.

    Those buildings can be made to look better and also attract and keep better tenants. The buildings at the south end of the block were at one time virtually identical to the ones at the north end. The buildings closer to Bancroft are now reasonably attractive and look well maintained. It doesn’t look like there’s much trouble in those either. The differences in ownership and management are now very clear.

  • neighbor

    they should re-connect Allston through the park to increase foot traffic and eyes on the street.

  • emraguso

    We checked in with Kevin Williams, associate director of BYA, and he said police had previously told BYA they would be making the recommendations listed in the article: “trimming back low bushes and other vegetation to open up ground-level views into the park; replacing a light post at the basketball court that had been taken down and ensuring that existing lights are in working order; working with property owners and city staff to paint over graffiti promptly; installing several new trash bins; and considering the removal of two little-used community bulletin boards that tend to attract graffiti.”

    He said: “When we met with the Police Department in the fall, they said that they would be making these recommendations. Also, BYA invested in graffiti resistant paint at our own cost and the Police Department is also supplying some to deal with the tagging. BYA put a trash can on the sidewalk and attached it to the street sign pole and that has really worked to help mitigate some of the trash. We have our youth janitors empty it daily and we are thinking of adding another one closer to the park at our cost because it can some time for the city to address some of these tasks.”

  • _guest

    While the building in the center of the block was the target of the recent shooting, most of the trouble in the area stems from the corner building. All you have to do is spend an afternoon in the neighborhood and you’d see that you’re assertions are incorrect.

    The people in the central buildings are families who are just trying to get by. The gang members congregate on the corner.

  • BB

    After a quick search of the area, the park, and surrounding streets via Google Street View, I can understand why this park is attractive for a gang to congregate. West St. and Allston St. both dead-end at the playground area. Making the spot an easy place to view anyone approaching, yet, with multiple on-foot escape routes in all directions for anyone at the playground. Any attack made on this gang, via vehicle, would also be forced to turn completely around with a time-stalling 3-pt. turn. I support what is being done. Take away gang members’ ability to hide, for one. And create a space that would feel more “open”, more prone to being surprised, by police or their perceived enemies. Deny them the refuge environment.

  • TN

    The building at the center of the block was the target of not just this recent shooting but of another shooting two years ago when three people were shot.

    It isn’t just where the gang members hang out on the street. It is where they run to, hide their cars and other stuff.

    It isn’t just coincidence that the shootings occurred at the same place.

  • Chris

    But there needs to be substantial infrastructure changes. Just trimming the vegetation won’t solve the problem, as we all know it will regrow quickly and be neglected again by the Parks Department.

  • Mbfarrel

    It keeps their beloved staff at work

  • neighbor

    connecting Allston through will solve most of the the visibility
    and access problems.

  • Agreed, the Parks Dept. is a joke that is managed by people that are either completely incompetent, or just don’t care. I reported a city tree with a history of falling limbs and damaging cars to the Parks dept in Oct 2013 asking them to cut it down before a winter storm.

    In a phone conversation with management there they refused to even trim it until late winter 2014. In Nov. 2013 it dropped a massive branch on my car., parked on my private property in my driveway! I told Parks this would happen, but it took over $3k in damage to my car and fence AND the help of my Councilman (Moore) to get the tree removed.

    There is no way Parks is going to stay on top of this, they simply are not capable of the task.

  • pursue Section 8 contract violations to remove tenants who seem to be “causing major problems.”

    Good luck with that. BHA is unresponsive and quite frankly NEGLIGENT in addressing Sect. 8 violations. We struggled with this on my block for YEARS and where the BHA failed to do their legal duty, the mortgage crisis helped substantially.

    One sect 8 property on my block went into foreclosure (thank God!) and resulted in the eviction of tenants that invited in known gang members and parolees, another sect 8 property was forced into a short sale & when that happened our neighborhood group threatened to sue the new owner if he didn’t get rid of tenants bringing in gang members, and a third sect 8 property was red tagged by the city manager’s office after the owner admitted he couldn’t afford to fix all of the building code violations. That property was used as a drug den and was being used to run hookers out of.

    This all on ONE block in West Berkeley and BHA didn’t do one damned positive thing to help! I personally filed a complaint with the FHA in DC, but only the recession and eventually the city manager’s office helped my block

    Never place any faith in BHA to follow federal law. That agency is ineffectual and rotten to the core.

  • Lester St Gwen

    re: “Residents need to be proactive about reporting problems to police, he said”
    Em’s and Frankel’s implied suggestion (follow Em’s links) is to email my police regional coordinator?
    If this channel is anything like BPD dispatch, we’re already forever lost.
    There is a trick to composing such email that it will jolt my regional coordinator out of flak catcher mode?

  • Lester St Gwen

    re: removal of bulletin boards. Not a great idea. Better to preserve them as a ‘dashboard’ meter — like any taggable surface — of who made the latest gesture to control the public space, no? Especially located at such an active hot spot! Is it so much more costly/difficult to sling back (clean) a BB than a fence, wall, window?

  • Long-time neighbor

    But kill the park.

  • Is that the building in the video? It is often covered in racist and disturbing graffiti. We call 311 for it often. I hope the landlord is paying the repainting bills, not us neighbors.

    One idea would be to add LED lighting and make it a better bike path. We and many others commute, even at night on bikes through there with our headlights and are more than happy to call police if we see anything.

    Also, Pizza Pastifico has been seen actually driving their old delivery Suburban through the north end of the park as a shortcut. This has to end, better poles should be installed to prevent this egregious misuse by neighbors.

  • Exactly, the building is often tagged. Do they pay for repainting or do we?

  • For bicycles, they should. The trees and greenery are needed for neighbors.

  • Connect for bicycles, but we don’t need more traffic and loss of trees and habitat.

  • guest

    Parks management is caring and competent, but the department has lost 30 jobs in cutbacks and is threatened with the loss of 8 more. It’s too bad about your accident but you could have gotten permission from the city to hire a private arborist if your failing tree was too far down on the list. It would have cost a lot less and a lot less bother but you wanted your complaint to the City to go to the top of the list ahead of others rather than shell out the money to pay a tree company. The City has 46,000 street trees and a long list of those who need attention. Besides the forestry department, parks has 52 parks and a camp than burned last year.

  • guest

    Moore has been thumping the Council table for months about creating a park in the southern rump of the Santa Fe right of way which would create exactly the same problems as Strawberry Creek Park. The area has a high crime rate, and a linear park would promote the same problems. In fact Strawberry was created out of the right of way.

  • guest

    It is already connected for bicycles. I bike through there all the time.

    I think it would be possible to create access for police cars and emergency vehicles without any loss of trees or habitat – by using the area that is already paved with asphalt just north of the basketball courts. That is where I bike through, and it would just have to be modified a bit to let occasional cars through.

    Ohlone Park is a good model of how this could be done. Emergency vehicles can cross the park on all the north-south streets, but these crossings are landscaped and the places where the emergency vehicles can go look like sidewalks.

    As BB pointed out, this is a hard place for police to patrol, and an easy place to look out for and escape from the police. That could be fixed without any damage to the character of the park, by creating a path for pedestrians and police cars, similar to the paths through Ohlone Park. It would also make it a bit easier to bike through here.

  • Tasersaurus

    Who are the responsible officials? Don’t they report to the CM?

  • Tasersaurus

    If that were your neighbor’s tree you could sue. Is that an option here?

  • guest

    Why should a private citizen have to hire a private company to care for a public tree?

    Perhaps if the city wasn’t wasting so much money on services like our redundant city heath department (one of only THREE in California) we’d have more money for the parks department.

  • Guest

    Like gang violence, graffiti, drug peddling…? Increase the minimum wage and make it harder for these kids to find productive uses for their time.

  • guest

    Increase the minimum wage, and give these kids more of an incentive to get a job.

    Some people think that we have to lower taxes on the very rich to give more incentives to CEOs, but they don’t want to give incentives to the poor.

  • guest

    If we added up all of the things that Berkeleyside commenters have said we can do by by eliminating the health department, the total would be more than the city’s entire budget.

  • Guest

    That’s not what I think. I don’t want to give anybody anything. The market will decide. Are you going to go start a business that will pay these kids the higher minimum wage? Ever put anyone on a payroll and absorbed all that risk and expense yourself? Very few people really want a life of crime there are just no viable options to get on a productive path. The higher we set the bar the harder it is for untrained people to get over it. Before you reply give some thought to who produced everything you consume and how it was produced. We’ve exported everything – all the “bad” labor and environmental practices are now overseas along with te jobs. What we’ve got left is debt and idle youth that become criminals. Just because you don’t have to see it and don’t mind mortgaging my kids future to put people here on the dole, does not mean there are not consequences to making work illegal here in the US through state imposed artificial barriers to employment.

  • hotboi weez

    their solution is to lock us all up , that is not gonna solve anything . give the youngsters some jobs and that will keep them out of trouble

  • hotboi weez

    cleaning the park up is not gonna help , it starts with us the people. the police rather arrest us then help us

  • Guest

    Hotboi weez – I believe the city council is meeting may 1 at 7 pm to discuss an increase to the minimum wage. You should bring a crew of folks that have not been able to find employment and come out and support eliminating barriers to employment, not increasing them. Know what the minimum wage is in prison? $0.25 an hour. If people can’t find work now how are they going to find it when it is much more costly to an employer. How are people going to learn how to show up on time, every day, do what they are told, have a good attitude…? All the things people need to learn to be worth more than minimum wage one day if they can’t get the first opportunity at a wage reflective of their ability to deliver value when thy possess no skills.

  • guest

    In the days when I was long-term unemployed, I didn’t expect anyone just to “give” me a job. I realized that I needed to learn skills to get a job, so I went to Vista College (now Berkeley City College), and I eventually got a good job.

  • bgal4

    “us” are you committing crimes? Because I and my sons have NOTHING in common with criminals.

    as for your assertion, society has been funding programs to stipend youth on probation programs to attend job training (show up on time, talk nice, dress decent) for decades with NO positives outcomes.

  • bgal4

    get help from your mommy and daddy, the cops arrest criminals fool.

  • hotboi weez

    none of those programs you talk of have never been offered to me or any of my friends , you just sound negative , ignorant and bitter. its people like you why these hoods dont change and dont wanna change . you dont know where to even start . i been through it from juvenile hall to prison . i did a music video and people wanna get their panties in a bunch . instead of being scared of “us” its better to reach out and work with us

  • hotboi weez

    the cops frame people as well , innocent people at that . you know nothing about that because your are probably white and dont see what really goes on

  • John Freeman

    give the youngsters some jobs and that will keep them out of trouble

    I don’t think they can, not in enough numbers to make much difference. That’s just the state of the economy.

  • John Freeman

    eliminating barriers to employment, not increasing them.

    Interesting offer.

    You want to lower low-end wages, have the working class put in more hours to make up for that, and you have nothing that will lower rents or reverse inflation on consumer goods. Lots of people will have to work harder to stay in place or work harder and fall further behind anyway. The consolation you offer these people (most of whom are over 25) is that you’ll teach them to “show up on time”.

  • hotboi weez

    true , locking us up isnt the answer tho and thats what they want

  • Woolsey

    Give the youngsters some jobs? Why don’t they get a job? The government estimates some 2,830,000
    illegal immigrants reside in California which is about 7.5 percent of the CA population. Most of these foreign folks manage to find jobs even though they lack language skills and often education. So what’s the problem with our homegrown unemployed. Maybe the want to be given something high-paying and cushy?

  • John Freeman

    locking us up isnt the answer tho and thats what they want

    I agree, of course.

    It’ll eventually bankrupt them, would be my guess. Nearly has already. This isn’t a good thing. Organized crime can invest money in concentrations of poor people and walk away with a profit. The government keeps spending more and more trying to keep the problem contained, digging itself a deeper and deeper hole. Nobody wins (except criminal fat cats).

  • “…give the youngsters some jobs and that will keep them out of trouble”

    Perhaps I’m reading the intent of your post incorrectly, but nobody in life gives you anything unless you show initiative. I went out pen in hand putting in applications all over town 30 years ago when I was a teen. I got a lot of rejection before I started to get work, but I didn’t quit because I knew what my parents and what society expected of me.

    Life doesn’t help those unwilling to help themselves.

  • Darned good point Woolsey. I never have a problem finding illegal immigrants that are chomping at the bit to work. Funny that these unskilled folks that don’t speak the language can manage to find work, yet unskilled youth that do speak English complain about jobs not being served up on a silver platter.

    If I saw an American kid out on the street hustling to get work like the illegal immigrants do, there’s no question who I’d pick up for odd jobs first — yhe American kid of course!

    Berkeley youth complaining about there not being jobs have a few things to learn from those that have come crushing poverty in Latin America, risk their lives crossing a dangerous border, risk arrest & deportation every day they are in the US, but still manage to find honest work to not only make a buck, but save cash to send back home to their families in Latin America.

    It’s all about initiative and motivation. If you don’t have it, you’ll fail in life.

  • Just Sayin

    Exactly! An officer being able to get a spotlight into the park would be a huge step in the right direction!

  • I pay a lot of property taxes, so I already paid to have the tree trimmed before it caused damage. You are saying I should be double taxed. That’s absurd.

    I’m aware Parks is short of people. I’m also aware that people in this city are trying to create additional parks, which is also absurd. It’s time to start cutting down problematic trees since Parks obviously cannot keep up with the workload. It’s time to right size the work load for the department.

    My clients don’t except excuses from me if I don’t get the job done they have paid me for, so I don’t accept excuses from the City that has collected my property tax for years and allocated funds to the Parks Dept. to take care of these issues for me.