The Fresno City Council has voted to move forward with an ordinance that aims to crack down on vacant blighted properties throughout the city. FM89’s Joe Moore reports backers hope the effort will improve struggling neighborhoods.
No more boarded up windows. A new five person city “blight team” to assess the problem and daily fines for continued violations. Those are some of the measures of the new anti-blight ordinance that passed its first vote Thursday.
Council member Lee Brand says forcing property owners to clean up blighted homes will help reduce police and fire calls and improve property values.
Brand: “If I’ve got five homes in a three or four block area, every home in that area is being lowered by the blighted homes, particularly when they’re concentrated.”
Local affordable housing activists say the measures are a good first step. Andy Levine is the Executive Director of Faith in Community.
Levine: “I think it really is a step in the right direction…”
But he says the new ordinance doesn’t go far enough. Their group had wanted mandatory city health and safety inspections before vacant properties are rented out.
Levine: “Before tenants move into properties that have been vacant for a while and are blighted, we need to make sure they meet basic state law.”
The council must vote on the bill again before it becomes law.