Vacant structures can pose a threat to public safety, not only to neighborhood residents but also police and fire responders. Buildings with securing boards often remain in that condition for extended periods of time. The condition of these buildings materially increases the risk of fire to the building and adjacent properties. Their dilapidated appearance negatively affects the economic well-being of residents in close proximity, decreases property values and marketability of surrounding properties. These buildings often become an attractive nuisance in neighborhoods becoming the target for illicit purposes including prostitution, drug use, vagrancy and curious youth. Vacant buildings subject to unauthorized entry lead to potential health and safety hazards. There is the potential for the presence of vermin, accumulations of debris, overgrown vegetation or physical deterioration for neglected buildings. Buildings that remain vacant for extended periods of time without an ongoing maintenance program are subject to substantial rehabilitation expenses.
Although early intervention could prevent extensive deterioration and encourage additional housing opportunities in the community, often structures are found to be cost prohibitive for rehabilitation. Following evaluation of these structures, a referral from the Code Compliance Division of the Neighborhood Services Department to the City Legal Department is required to initiate a court case to either get the owner to comply in bringing the structure up to minimum housing codes or seek a demolition order.
The Code Compliance Division recently completed demolition of two such structures. In each case, the owners failed to bring the structures into compliance resulting in a City demolition process. Both properties will be added to a lot disposition list for future development opportunities.