Jeff Lutzner

Jeff Lutzner, 4900 Cedar AvenueJeff Lutzner – 4900 Cedar Avenue

Jeff Lutzner has served as block captain for 23 years. It’s been smooth sailing. But he would consider handing over the title to the next generation.

If you live on the 4900 block of Cedar Avenue and are interested, Lutzner could share how his laid-back approach helped him reduce the number of hours he spends on block duties. He concentrates on the basics: cleanups and safety

If the potential candidate has a family, he or she might want to reinstate annual block parties. “When we moved here, we had lots of kids,” Lutzner says. As a father of two, Lutzner organized block parties and street games and remembers a street full of children.

Lately, though, there isn’t much interest in jumping castles. The block’s demographics have changed. “The challenge now is staying connected to the ever-changing tenants in rental units.”

Working from home is a plus for a block captain aspirant. Lutzner runs his business, Caoba Doors, from home, so he has kept an eye on things without too much effort.  He is also visible and available. “When there is a major issue, people come to me,” he says.

Humor and persistence are useful qualities for any block captain. Lutzner needed both in 2010 to motivate the city to repair the more than 30 potholes on his block. For a year he tried unsuccessfully to get the street repaired.  Then he and his neighbors resorted to protest in the spirit of guerrilla gardeners. On a citywide cleanup day, they filled the potholes with potting soil and planted palettes of marigold and impatience flowers into them.

“They were only there for a day,” says Lutzner, but with the help of coverage in the University City Review, the flowers bore fruit. It took a few months, but the city eventually paved over the potholes.

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