Despite signs of a real estate recovery, vacant and abandoned properties threaten to keep many capital city neighborhoods hopelessly behind the curve. To understand just how bad the problem is, consider this: A proposed ordinance designed to put some teeth into efforts to clean up such nuisance properties has the public backing of Mayor Angel Taveras and the entire 15-member City Council even before it comes to an expected vote in September!
The proposal would hit derelict property owners where they’d feel it most – in their wallets – with a series of fees and fines designed to prevent such residential properties from staying vacant or falling into disrepair.
“There are properties that have been in the process of foreclosure for years and, in the meantime, no one is keeping up the property,” City Councilor Sabina Matos, a co-sponsor, told PBN in a Page 1 story in this issue.
The proposal, which does not cover commercial properties, sets an initial registration fee of $500 for buildings left vacant and inactive for three months. Fees then escalate up to $2,500 annually if the structure is left vacant for years.
Failure to register vacant properties carries a fine of $250 per day. And once a building is registered, the owner faces fines of $1,000 per day if the property is not maintained.
Fines alone will not solve the problem of abandoned properties. But the proposal, which would be the first of its kind in the state, is a strong step toward creating a united front against urban blight. •