City of Birmingham sues apartment complex owner over gun violence, crime
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The City of Birmingham’s Office of the City Attorney sued the owner of Valley Brook Apartments Friday asking them to work to stop violence in the area. City leaders said the lawsuit follows a large amount of violent crime and other illegal activities at the property.
Valley Brook Apartments is located at 2969 Gallant Drive in Birmingham’s Apple Valley Neighborhood. The complex is owned by Steele Valley Brook, LLC.
“We are seeing what appears to be a dangerous place to live,” Birmingham City Councilor Clinton Woods said. ““We cant allow loss of life to become something that is typical norm or something that we brush off and don’t take seriously.”
The lawsuit states Birmingham police officers have responded to at least six gun-related incidents at the complex since February 7, 2021, including two homicides.
Clinton Woods is the city councilman of that district and he says over the last 18 months, police have responded to roughly 1,200 calls to the complex.
“Residents want to see patrols and officers running radar in the area, making sure people aren’t speeding, and that is hard to do when you are going back and forth to a singular location,” Woods said.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction requiring the owners of Valley Brook Apartments to take steps to reduce illegal activity at the complex.
“We have to do more as a city, but we also have to hold property owners responsible for what is going on,” Woods said. “Administration is completely justified in bringing this owner to the table and brining this owner to court.”
Those steps would include requiring the owners to establish a comprehensive audio/video surveillance system at the complex, acquire license plate technology (readers) and establish a 24-hour, 7 day-a-week security presence.
The city asks that if the owners fail to prevent further illegal and violent activity that the court require the property to be sold.
“There is a problem at that location so something needs to change,” Woods said. “They are going to have to do better.”
The lawsuit states Alabama Code allows municipalities to take steps against property owners in civil court to reduce or remove a public nuisance (Ala. Code §§ 6-5-122, 11-47-117-118).
The city contends:
- Valley Brook Apartments have been the site of several incidents of murder, gun-related violence, assaults and other forms of illegal activity.
- Birmingham police officers have responded to multiple incidents where firearms have been discharged.
- Birmingham police officers have made multiple arrests at the apartment complex.
“Landlords must be put on notice,” City Attorney Nicole King said. “You will be held accountable if you do not take care of your property or allow crime to take place.”
“This is a key part of our public safety response,” Mayor Randall L. Woodfin said. “We must address crime through a multi-faceted approach, which includes law enforcement, our courts, state and federal partners and through the help of our residents. Together, we reduce crime through innovative thinking. I commend the City Attorney for taking this action.”
In the spring of 2020, City Attorney Nicole King created the Office of the City Attorney’s Drug and Nuisance Abatement Team, also known as OCA-DNAT, which works through the courts to hold landowners accountable for keeping their properties clean and getting rid of crime and blight associated with nuisance issues.
Problems with drug and nuisance properties can be reported via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or residents may call the internal Drug and Nuisance Abatement Team at 205-254-2369 during normal business hours.
The lawsuit, filed today, June 4, 2021, requests oral arguments and an emergency hearing before the court. You can read the lawsuit here:
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