Some people who live in a South Anchorage neighborhood say they’re relieved the city has finally stepped in to clean up a problem property where garbage has been piling up for months.

John Martinson lives next door to the house on Olympic Drive. He says the property had anywhere between six and eight months worth of trash built up.

“It smells, it attracts animals, flies. It’s just not a good situation for anybody," he said.

Land Use Enforcement Officer Rich Fern says the homeowner, listed in a city complaint as Evelyn Burk, had been warned and cited several times. But despite being given free passes to the landfill, she had not moved to clean up the mess.

On Wednesday afternoon, a contracted cleaning crew arrived to abate the property. Fern says the bill would be a big one.

Land Use Enforcement Officer Rich Fern said the city tries to work with homeowners but some don't cooperate at all.

“Removing your garbage is actually a very cheap proposition and by the time we get involved in this stage it’s not cheap," he said. "Right now we have approximately $26,000 of fines alone. And, of course, we are going to try and recoup the taxpayer’s dollars. Not just the fines but our clean-up costs today.”

Fern says the city would sue Burk if she didn’t pay up and likely put a lien against her property. He says the funds recovered will go back into a pool to clean up other problem properties.

Fern is aware that the clean-up doesn’t come as fast as many neighbors would like but says the city is obligated to adhere to a process that can take time. He advises people who have concerns or complaints about problem properties and other city issues to call the municipality code enforcement hotline at 907-343-4141.

Correction: This story has been edited to correct the first name of the man who lives next door to the problem house. His name is John Martinson, not Dave Martinson.

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