Sunday, June 22, 2008

Vacant Property Registry Folly

Vacant Property Registry
What is the purpose of this registry?
What is to be accomplished by the registry?

If I understand the purpose of the legislation, it is to provide easy access to the name and address of the owners of vacant properties so they can be billed for city work to maintain the property if the owner does not.

I had a discussion with a councilperson about this and it became quite intense. If I own a home, maintain it, clean it, keep it in repair, mow the grass, shovel the walks in the winter, pay the taxes… it is ABSOLUTELY none of the business of this or any other government entity whether it is or is not inhabited. If I am in compliance with the laws on maintaining MY property, it is ABSOLUTELY none of the business of this or any other government entity whether it is or is not inhabited

There are already regulations for those who have vacant property which is in decay, not maintained and condemned. If the city does maintain the grounds, condemns the building and then demolishes the home, the owner is billed.

We are assured there are many “exclusions” to the registry, but we have to request the exclusion after registering the property. The property is then on a registry visible to anyone who requests the information. What happened to the term “private property?”

When I asked the council person what will be accomplished when the registry is put into effect, it was explained it will help the city know how many vacant homes exist in Toledo to help determine revenues for the city and help control the dilapidated properties in Central city. Are you aware the City owns almost 600 vacant properties which are 30' frontage, many in Central City? Will they register these properties?

My point to all on council is this: those who do not maintain their properties are not going to register the properties. When I offered this opinion to the councilperson, I asked what ultimately would be accomplished and the response was more fees would build up. What good will that do when the City is not proactive enough to collect the fees currently owed?

The responsible residents will once again bear the brunt of city inefficiencies by the requirement to report to a city that already has proven they do not follow through with the regulations. It will be randomly and inefficiently be applied and undoubtedly another person will be needed to maintain this registry and answer all the requests for exclusions. As government is best at creating, this is another quagmire in the political arena of Toledo politics designed to appease the politically connected CDC’s..

If in fact there is close to $3,000,000 in unpaid fees against vacant and abandoned property the department responsible for collecting the unpaid fees should be held accountable, not create another regulation or registry which will be impossible to maintain.

Council should require a report with:
A list of properties with fees already assessed which they have not been able to collect.
The amount owned against each property
The name and last know address of the owner of the property
The efforts taken to collect the owned fines

It is extremely disappointing to see this Council continue to punish with additional regulations the citizens who pay the bills and vote them into office.

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