For more than a decade, Kay McGill has been picking up litter and removing illegal signs in her Stone Mountain subdivision.
“I got so tired of trash on the sidewalk,” McGill said.
“We have homeowners that simply will not take care of their properties,” McGill said. “There are…homeowners that will cut their yard but won’t cut that strip of grass near the curb which makes the rest of the neighborhood look bad.”
McGill said she is excited about a new county initiative that DeKalb leaders say will help clean up the county.
“I think it’s one tool in a toolbox of many that DeKalb County has initiated and I think it’s an excellent start,” McGill said.
The new tool, called Operation Clean to the Curb, is touted as a collaboration between the county government and property owners to take responsibility for mowing and cleaning county rights of way.
DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis, who announced the initiative during a news conference on Glenwood Road June 13, said Operation Clean to the Curb “means we’re going to be working with citizens’ groups…to make sure we don’t just stop cleaning or mowing our grass in our yards but we also mow all the way and clean to the curb.”
Maintaining rights of way is “partly the county’s responsibility, no doubt,” Ellis said. “We’ve been hit really hard by this recession. We haven’t been able to do everything that we want to do. But we know that with the resources of the people—our greatest resource is the people and no recession can take that away—we know that we can do everything that needs to be done.”
Ellis introduced the initiative in a right of way where trash and illegal signs had been placed around his podium for a photo opportunity.
“It looks like we’ve set up some prop trash out here to be cleaned up,” Ellis said. “We really don’t have to set up prop trash…because we’ve got a lot of work to do.
“We are committed that if we are going to be a safe and a green and a thriving DeKalb County, first and foremost we’ve got to be a clean DeKalb County,” Ellis said.
Ellis also announced the hiring of Marcus Kellum, the county’s new manager of code compliance and neighborhood stabilization.
Kellum, who starts his job in July, has 20 years of public management experience and is a certified master code enforcement officer. He recently served as the assistant director of code compliance for Sandy Springs.
“In my experience, I’ve seen programs change the quality of life in certain communities,” Kellum said. “I think this Clean to the Curb program…is one of those programs and initiatives that can actually change the face of DeKalb County. I look forward to everything that we can do together as a community to change the face of the community.”
Gary Cornell, interim director of the Department of Planning and Sustainability, said the program will help the county eliminate “eyesores that we think pull down the image of the county.”
“We’re trying to rebound,” Cornell said. “We’re trying to get vital and healthy.”
Cornell said the county will use its mowing schedule in communities as a “catalyst” for code compliance activity in those areas. The county will focus on removing signs and issue citations for various code violations.
The county will “come in ahead of them, get the signs and litter collected before the mowing crews and follow behind to help the Clean to the Curb initiative,” Cornell said.
Another program that will aid the county’s fight against trash is the Neighborhood Ambassadors Program, Cornell said.
This program “enables us to have eyes and ears on the streets in all the neighborhoods to help us do a good job and also understand what the citizens value about the quality of life,” Cornell said.
Through the county’s revamped civil citations and hearing process in Recorder’s Court, “we can much more quickly deal with absentee landlords and some of the big problems that have tied up our foreclosure situation in ways that have debilitated our neighborhoods,” Cornell said.