At tonight’s worksession, we will discuss what actions the City could take to address vacant properties. It’s clear to everyone that vacant properties are detrimental to the quality of life in the City in several ways. Vacant properties leave a neighborhood susceptible to crime. Vacant properties do not contribute positively to the streetscape. Vacant properties become a burden and challenge for code enforcement. Vacant properties under-utilize much needed inventory in our real estate market.
At a minimum, the community would like to see these properties better cared for. Ideally these properties would be occupied, see here for my response.
We wish to discuss expansion of our City Code to include a Registry of Vacant Properties, mandatory for all vacant property owners. This initiative would require the Council to:
- Define “vacant property” (e.g. does “unoccupied”= vacant, or does vacant= wuninhabitable”) and other related terminology
- Clearly define the goals of a vacant property registry
- Authorize staff to create an inventory, based on Council definitions, of vacant properties
- Determine if there is a problem which justifies further financing, legislation, and enforcement
- Authorize staff to create a reporting process structure and a database to support a registry
- Adopt legislation including possible fines/fees to support the program
At this point, we have not proposed an annual fee or special tax, but believe it might be appropriate to implement a fine for vacant property owners for not complying with regulations. That said, we have discussed this issue understand that vacant properties legislation will increase staff workload. We believe regulation might be most effective if it were complaint based. Residents could report an alleged vacant property (via College Park Central) and then City staff could confirm the status of those properties.
We think a registry might be beneficial for the property owner because it could enable the City to have regular communications with vacant property owners and it could potentially enable police to address issues on the property in the absence of the owner.
By better understanding the volume of vacant properties in the City, we think we can better identify problems and solutions. Discussion should Include whether initiatives should address vacant properties in general, or case-by-case; and, if an annual fee, or a special tax would incentivize the return of vacant properties to occupancy.
Locally, the City of Mount Rainier here in Prince George’s County has adopted legislation addressing vacant properties, and the City of Takoma Park in Montgomery County has discussed the issue. We’ll look into these legislation at tonight’s worksession. And if you’re currently looking for new homes for sale in Brunswick, GA, you may visit the Landmark 24 Realty homepage for more info.