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Thread: City trying to clean up?

  1. #1
    Patrick Guest

    Default City trying to clean up?

    Looks like the city is looking for more ways to punish those that violate city codes, by not keeping their structures up.

    I'm glad the city is pushing forward with more ways to improve the overall image of our city's neighborhoods.


    "City looks for ways to clean properties

    By Bryan Dean
    The Oklahoman

    Oklahoma City officials are looking for a better way to hold nuisance property owners responsible for code violations. How to report
    To report a code violation, call the city's action line at 297-2535.

    A report issued Tuesday to the city council shows some who own property in Oklahoma City but live outside city limits simply are ignoring city codes without penalty. Council members reviewed proposed changes to the city code aimed at solving the problem.

    The changes expand the city's ability to serve notice on owners of properties that are in violation of the property maintenance code -- meaning problems with a roof, peeling paint, sagging gutters or other structural problems that don't meet the legal requirements for declaring a building dilapidated.

    The changes also would make it easier for city prosecutors to bring violators into the courts.

    Ward 7 Councilwoman Willa Johnson said there are plenty of "absentee" property owners who do a good job maintaining their properties. But some owners have deliberately let their properties deteriorate knowing that the city has little legal recourse.

    "The difficulty has been trying to get the enforcement taken care of," Johnson said. "Many times that is because of absentee owners."

    Mike Randall, director of the city's neighborhood services department, said the city can mail citations to such an owner, but "they just completely ignore it."

    Neglected properties are often a symptom of an unhealthy inner-city neighborhood with high crime rates and low property values, Randall said.

    "We are trying to get the stage set to where we can actually have good and effective property management again. We're casting the net as wide as we legally can," Randall said.

    Randall said the city often doesn't know who to notify when there is a violation. When a trust or a corporation owns a property or when the owner tries to obscure his or her name on legal documents, notification can be difficult.

    The proposed changes will allow the city to ticket anyone with a legal interest in the property with a violation. Randall said the change will make it less difficult to hold someone responsible for the problem.

    If the property owner does not fix the problem, the changes also will make it easier to pursue legal recourse, Randall said. All property maintenance violations are considered class B offenses, meaning they are subject to a jury trial and punishable by a large fine and jail time.

    The proposed change would lessen the violations to a class A offense. The lesser case would not be tried by a jury and would result in a lower fine with no jail time.

    "It's a hard case to take somebody to court for jury trial and a possible jail sentence for a sagging roof," Randall said. "We want to be able to get them engaged at a level that they are willing to spend the money to fix their property rather than pay a fine."

    Randall said city officials can't be sure the changes will work, and they are not seen as a final fix. It is just a start.

    "I think we are going to have to continue to work with legal to see what steps we can take," Randall said. "We don't know in the long run how successful it will be."

  2. Default Re: City trying to clean up?

    Yeah, I busted the property owners near Quail Springs Condominiums for letting the property get so trashed up I couldn't even look at it anymore. So I e-mailed the action center, and they took care of the problem. I'm sure the owners were mad, but come on! This is a high-growth area we're talking about here! And for all that development to go in where there is tons of litter make the area very unattractive to people from out of town.

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