EDGEWATER — The City of Chicago socked an Uptown woman known as "The Pigeon Lady" with $3,000 in fines for allegedly feeding pigeons and littering in the public way, attracting rats and raccoons along the way.
The alleged bird feeder, Young Kang, was one of the reasons the city beefed up its "Don't Feed The Birds" ordinance in 2012 by increasing fines to $1,000 per offense and adding possible jail time.
Ald. James Cappleman (46th) once called her a bird-feeding "extremist" who dumped 3 or 4 pounds of bread on the ground at a time.
Now, after months of surveillance by a property owner sick of the rats and other critters the bird food attracted, Kang has been hit with 10 counts and fined $3,000 by the city's Administrative Hearings Department, according to court documents and the 48th Ward Office.
Michael "Spike" King, a maintenance man for a residential building at 1107 W. Glenlake Ave., said he and the building's owner, Bob Cecrle, spent months combing through surveillance footage to provide evidence for the court to prosecute the woman and unnamed accomplices, who drove Kang and helped her distribute the food.
"We, along with several other properties are having a very difficult time with several persons who are leaving foodstuffs and bird seed at various locations, attracting large numbers of not only birds and pigeons, but now rats, raccoons and other nocturnal animals," Cecrle wrote to Rogers Park Police District Cmdr. Roberto Nieves in an email which was included in court documents.
Marko Zaric, 48th Ward Public liaison officer, attended the hearings to support community members, he said.
"She didn't want to stop, and this was the only way to go," Zaric said of Kang. "It's something we wish we didn't have to do, but it just got out of hand."
On several occasions, Kang bought bread, crackers and rice from the Andersonville Jewel-Osco before heading to locations including the Bryn Mawr train station, Walgreens, CVS pharmacy and the sidewalk in front of King's building to spread the crushed food, King said.
"This was a problem because it brought birds. The birds are pooping on cars and all over the place. I witnessed most of the counts by eyeball," King said. "When I confronted her, all she was doing was screaming and yelling."
Kang could not be reached for comment.
The bird-feeding usually occurred between 8 and 8:30 p.m., but after several confrontations Kang began visiting as late as 2 a.m. and as early as 5 a.m., King said.
Most of the time, the food scraps were "gone by morning time because the rats and rodents eat it," King said.
This isn't Kang's first run-in with the judicial system. In May of 2012, Cappleman and Kang clashed when the alderman told police she assaulted him as he cleaned up her breadcrumbs in Uptown. Kang was charged with one count of misdemeanor battery and issued two tickets for dumping on the public way.
Cappleman referenced Kang as one of the repeat offenders he was targeting when he proposed a stricter ordinance with higher penalties for pigeon feeders later that year.
"We're talking about people who have been arrested time and time again for dumping 3 or 4 pounds of bread at a time four times a day. We're talking about extremists, and the intent of this ordinance is to go after these extremists," Cappleman said.
Monday, Cappleman's chief of staff, Tressa Feher, said the office was unaware of any recent cases against Kang.
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