Fresno starts identifying blighted properties

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The survey was looking only for homes that appeared to be both vacant, and in bad shape or eyesores. (KFSN)

Newly hired code enforcement officers cruised Fresno streets for a month, identifying houses and apartment buildings that appeared to meet the city's definition of blight. Jennifer Clark, the Director of the City's Department of Development and Resource Management says the property owners will have to act.

Clark explained, "Now we are in the process of notifying those property owners to clean up their properties to maintain them whether they are vacant or occupied."

The survey was looking only for homes that appeared to be both vacant, and in bad shape or eyesores. They identified about 2,000. But City Council member Steve Brandau was surprised there aren't more.

Brandau added, "To me, 2,000 is shockingly low."

In fact the city had earlier estimated there were 10,000 to 20,000 vacant homes in the city. Clark noted this was a drive-by, or windshield count. More extensive counts will be done later. Despite discrepancies local housing activists like Andy Levine are pleased with these initial steps.

Levine explained, "It's definitely a step in the right direction, obviously the passage of the new ordinance and new strict standards and a very clear plan for actually enforcing the standards this time when it comes to enforcing vacant properties and the 4 new officers they are bringing on, this blight team, is a step in the right direction."

Levine is the director of the group "Faith in Community" which has actively protested the city's lack of action on blight, wants the city to take the next step. Levine says that means going inside the blighted properties many live in, and start enforcing state health and safety laws. Clark says that is coming.

"The task force is scheduled to resume work in the spring to look at interior blight and issues with residential occupancy," explained Levine.

Related Topics:
building code violationneighborhoodhomecommunityFresno
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