Cities beef up anti-blight ordinances

October 20, 2008 7:12:19 PM PDT
Foreclosed homes abandoned by previous owners and ignored by banks are creating an eyesore in many Bay Area neighborhoods.

In Brentwood, code enforcement officer Ken Rader cruises for violators among the city's current list of more than 250 foreclosed properties.

Some bank-owned homes have dead lawns, brown bushes, overgrown trees and backyard pools that can be breeding grounds for potentially deadly mosquitoes.

"It's a big eyesore," Milpitas resident Kris Coley said. "You know, we're always out here and the first thing you see is that house; and we want to go over and water the grass and keep it up, but hoses are broke and pipes are broke, and we can't even do that."

But now, the Brentwood City Council had added teeth to its enforcement efforts. Besides the citations and fines he has been issuing for months, Rader now has another tool.

"We're now issuing notice of pendency on the properties, which that will be placed on the title," Rader said. "And we will not release that until the violations have been corrected."

In Richmond, the police department wants the city council to take it a step further, because vacant houses can quickly become gathering places for criminals.

"People are able to break the boards of the rear of the homes, and basically squat and stay inside the home," Richmond police spokesperson Lt. Mark Gagan said. "Several have become places where people get together to do drugs."

Tuesday night the Richmond City Council will consider an ordinance that would impose a stiff $1,000 per day fine on any bank that does not keep its foreclosed property up to code.


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