New proposal to clean up SF neighborhoods

August 12, 2008 7:24:37 PM PDT
If you live in San Francisco and are the owner of the property you could be forced to fix up or pay someone to do it.

Recently San Francisco's mayor suggested stiff fines for residents who don't properly recycle their trash. Now there's a proposal to fine owners who don't keep up their property.

"When it comes to removing graffiti, cleaning the sidewalk, removing trash, repairing awnings, cleaning pigeon droppings," said San Francisco Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval.

Sandoval is the sponsor, and he says his measure is aimed primarily at commercial buildings and absentee landlords.

But anyone could find themselves the subject of complaint because someone thinks their house is an eyesore.

"It is very subjective but when you see it, you know it," said Sandoval.

The San Francisco Apartment Association, a group of landlords believes the proposal puts an unfair burden on property owners and calls its more 'big brother' bureaucracy.

"You never know when your neighbor is going to rat you out. You've got your garbage police, graffiti police, now your blight police," said Sean Pritchard from the San Francisco Apartment Association.

Under the plan, owners would be given 30 days to fix problems. If they don't, the city could do the job and send them the bill. There could also be fines up to $1,000 a day.

Joseph Smooke runs the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center and supports the legislation because he believes it could help reduce crime.

"A lot of times blighted properties are dark and dark areas generally are where criminals can hide out and makes people feel unsafe," said Smooke.

The city already has a number of building codes but the Director of Public Works wants one comprehensive law his department could enforce.

"It would be nice to have a single mechanism, whether its graffiti or something else associated with a property to enforce it, which we don't have now," said Ed Reiskin from the San Francisco Department of Public Works.

He says San Jose, Berkley and Oakland already have laws on the books.


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