Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

wolverine

Minor fire at Cass Tech

14 posts in this topic


The most likely scenario seems to be that scrappers were burning insulation off of pipes and wires in the mechanical shafts and things got a little out of hand. I drove through the area after lunch today on my way back to the office, and it didn't look that bad, fortunately.

Scrappers have gone crazy in this city. The house down the street from me burned 2 weeks ago. The DFD left at 6:00am. By 10:00am the scrappers already had the radiators in the back of a pickup truck and ready to be hauled off. By the time I came home from work at 5:00pm, the scrappers were finishing off the last of the aluminum siding. The next day they had the pipes, wires, and window frames out. There's not a scrap of metal left in that house. Or any of the other empty ones on my street, for that matter. Even many of the Boston Edison mansions, about 30% of which sit vacant, are getting stripped. So it's no surprise that the scrappers are getting into Cass Tech, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Short of more frequent patrols, which I don't ever expect to see happen to a significant extent, and which I believe would only solve a very small part of the problem, what can the city do to clamp down on this scrapping epidemic? I'm totally lost as to a solution.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can think of a of way.

Have the owners of the buildings pay a fine when scrappers are found in their buildings.

Make the fine be high enough so that it would be advantageous for the owners to either secure their buildings or to redevelope them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think you can fine someone for getting robbed. :)

I do think the city should be harsher on vacant buildings. But I don't know if that would encourage people to do things with their buildings, or if it would just scare owners away in the first place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can complain all you want about owners not securing buildings from scrappers, but the fact of the matter is that scrappers are ruthless in their quest for scrap. There are 6 vacant buildings on my block alone. 3 of them are maintained as second homes. The other 3 sit empty and closely guarded by neighbors. One of these properties was vacated in May. Since May, we've called the DPD to evict squatters twice. And we've spent our own money to secure the house with plywood, padlocks, etc. on 3 occasions. Each time, the house is broken into again within two days. Since that time, the house has been torched three times, and is collapsing onto the sidewalk. The scrappers completed the job and moved on to the next house. The property has been sitting unsecured since the end of June. The city won't aknowledge that they need to demolish/secure this collapsing house ASAP. We know the owner, and knowing him, no amount of fines will make him do anything to do something about the house.

The scrappers also cut the telephone lines in our alley. We wondered why we didn't have phone service, walked into the yard, looked in the alley, and saw all the recently-installed wires hanging down. Near my house is Livernois Yard, the big switching yard for trains in SW Detroit. The scrappers park on my street, and also on John Kronk. They take their tool boxes, and they go unbolt parts off the trains to take to the scrap yard. Quite frankly, the only way I see scrappers stopping is if the price of scrap metal drops, which is not going to happen any time soon, if ever.

The story of scrappers at the Park Avenue Hotel is a bit different. I personally reported the scrapping of the building to the owner. His response: "The more work they do, the less we'll have to pay demo contractors...we're demolishing every wall and replacing all the windows anyway." I think it sets a bad precedent, but I suppose that's one way of looking at things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know the city doesn't have the money or the man-power, but, perhaps, would cutting out the middle man discourage scrapping? By that I mean a city department that buys dozen of cheap abandoned homes at a time, and scrapping it, themselves, selling off the parts and then demolishing the rest? Thinking about it, it seems like there is no way the city could do this in the state the city government is in. They can barely afford to demolish the homes they want to. Speaking of housing demolition, Kilpatrick set out an ambitious goal in brining down vacant homes near schools during his first term, does anyone know how many have been demolished since the outset of this promise? Last I had heard, the program slowed down, very fast. On top of not having money and man-power, you first have to clear the titles, which for some properties it takes so long, it's not even practical to try.

What a mess.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's true. It's impossible IMPOSSIBLE to prevent scrappers from getting into buildings unless there is a paid crew to walk around and monitor the building. Scrappers are desperate enough to ram a vehicle through concrete walls just to get in to steal some copper piping.

Let me give an example. Fisher Autobody was sealed up tight recently with plywood and 2x4 framing. The craftsmanship was rock solid, and it's been staying on the windows for over a year now. In fact, it's so sturdy, that some scrappers chose not to pry them off, but simply light them on fire. I mean c'mon, what can you do to prevent that?

It's really not fair to fine owners. Many have tried their best. Can I break into your house, steal your stuff, and then call the city on you? Have you fined, where I walk off happy with your belongings and not get arrested? That just doesn't seem right does it. :)

The only fines I see fair, are citing owners for improperly securing their building. For example, if a board is left hanging open for weeks, that's not right. It means the owner is not checking their property to make sure it's safe. On the other hand, many owners are diligent in make sure their buildings are sealed whenever there is a breach.

Okay, I'm probably going to get a lot of nasty flack for saying this, but IMO the collection of scrap metal piping and wire for cash is ridiculous. What person who holds a respectable position in society gathers up left over wire from their house and cashes it in. Nobody does that. People just throw the crap in the recycling pile and let the city or some other service take it away and benefit.

What I'm trying to say is the most scrap metal the average person would accumulate is relatively low. I'm sure if any of you have ever renovated a house and needed to replace some wiring, the excess was tossed in the garbage or put in recycling. At most you'd receive a few dollars, but is it worth the time? Absolutely not. So its probably true that a large amount of scrap wire and plumbing turned in was acquired illegally. You think there is something that can be done at this point where the sale occurs?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


No, because it's no different from any other shady businesses, such as shady corner stores that sell "hot" cell phones, or other stolen merchandise. In a city with a devastated economy, a desperate citizenry scraping along to make a living, and poor retail establishment after another, the market for this will always be strong. This is not even to mention the huge suburban market for this stuff. It's much more valuable than you think, and when you have people making money day to day, it becomes even more valuable. That's why I'm at a total loss for how to attack this, or if this is just a bad situation the city has to find the good in for the time being, if that is even possible, and I don't think it is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with you LMich, I'm at a loss as well exactly how I feel about the situation which is why I left my last post open ended.

What I want to make clear is my belief that the majority of scrap material turned in was acquired illegally. Anyone with a job wouldn't be doing this since it's not a practical use of their time. I categorize it with collecting cans out of trash bins. So yes, it's the poor and unemployed. Unfortunately for them, if there comes a point where there are sweeping regulations for the scrap business, it would crush this group of people. It's good and bad in many ways... primarily good for the building owners who want a future for their property, bad for the scrappers who need to put food on the table.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's the similar to crakdowns on drug dealing. Very rarely to they ever get the suburban lords running the business, but the low-level guys that no matter how many of them you squash they materialize. That is not to imply that I sympathize with any of these types, but our laws aren't actually designed to solve problems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I totally agree that our laws aren't designed to solve problems, and I think we'd be better off if they were more well thought out.

And I agree about the shadyness of scrapping.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

LMich, the problem with your plan is that all the copper pipes and wiring out of an abandoned house won't even make a dent in the demolition cost. You can strip all the aluminum siding off of a house and get like $100. Copper is worth significantly more, but the house would have to be solid copper for the plan to be feasible.

Scrapping is generally pretty shady. You do what you have to do to make ends meet, though. I know of people who have stripped aluminum siding off their house because they needed the money. Sometimes you just have to.

I have not seen any firm numbers on the number of demolitions that have taken place near schools. I live near an elementary school, and there are perhaps a dozen (maybe more) vacant homes within a block. Most are in ok shape, but a few are in a severe state of collapse due to fire damage. I'm not going to hold my breath. I do remember seeing that the number of houses demolished each year has fallen significantly in the last few years (since the beginning of Kwame's reign).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, it was Kilpatrick that implemented the ambitious derelict housing demolition plan. They've dropped, most likely, from a lack of political will (they were a campaign promise, after all, something politicians break like they weren't anything), and a lack of funding considering all of the holes in each year's budget. The mayor and council could bolster the program, but they'd have to take the money from some other city function, or forces concessions out the union, something they don't have the political capital or the guts to do.

Yeah, I didn't think my idea would be profitable, but I was throwing it out there as a impromptou brainstorm, hoping someone would throw some other solutions out there if any exist. It seems like none do sort of the city and local economy miraculously turning around.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.