One of the major causes of blight is real estate speculation. Banks and investors buy up foreclosed homes and then allow them to sit. Their hope being that when the market eventually improves the value of their holdings will increase as well and they can make some cash. But until that time comes, they allow these properties to fall into disrepair. Why bother fixing them up until the time comes to sell them? It's just cheaper that way.
The result of this practice in times like these is that neighborhoods and property values are threatened by derelict properties overrun with weeds and occupied by buildings in the process of deteriorating rapidly.
The best example of this dynamic at work here in Sierra Madre would be the Skilled Nursing Facility. Owned by an entity that is apparently holding out for better times (such as a City Council that would allow the fellow to build three story condominiums with street level shops), this property has been a blighted eyesore on our community for quite some time now.
Ironically, the high-density development advocates here in town have taken to blaming our current City Council for the condition of the Skilled Nursing Facility when the enabler of this blight is actually one of their own.
So Glendale, refusing to put up with such nonsense from that quarter, has taken advantage of a state law that empowers cities to take action should they choose to do so. An article in the Glendale News Press ("City Targets Untidy Homes") lays it out this way:
"Banks and housing speculators could face fines of up to $1,000 per day for failing to keep vacant properties up to code under a proposal scheduled to go to the City Council on Tuesday ... The proposed law would authorize the city to exercise its authority granted under state law to hold new owners of foreclosed properties accountable for maintaining their parcels. The new regulations would not affect original tenants who are undergoing foreclosure ... according to the proposal ... With potential fines of $1,000 a day, speculators and banks will likely be encouraged to price more in line with what the market can offer, or spend a little to ensure that the residence remains up to code."
The law was passed by the Glendale City Council last Tuesday evening.
Of course, there was one party that was not initially pleased by these developments. The Glendale Association of Realtors was unhappy about a particular aspect of this matter. The cause of their miff being this law would not allow them to enter homes that are still occupied. Which, if you think about it, is probably for both civil liberties concerns and their own personal safety. This delayed a City Council vote on the matter by two weeks. You'd think they'd have wanted to help the neighborhoods there by getting derelict properties fixed as quickly as possible.
So would a law like this work for Sierra Madre should it be enacted here? I think so. Why should financial institutions and speculators be allowed to let properties decay so that they can save a couple of bucks on maintenance? Why should our neighborhoods suffer while they wait for the housing market to improve? It certainly doesn't help home owners concerned about the quality of their neighborhood and the value of their property.
And wouldn't it be nice to stick it to the guy that allowed the Skilled Nursing Facility to go to seed? A thousand bucks a day for an entire year would be $365,000! That would both help pay some bills and encourage him to get the place fixed up.
(Note: Comments section for this post has been disabled. For some this appears to have been much too exciting a topic and they just couldn't contain themselves. That's what happens when you hit the target, I guess.)