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Proposal targets delinquent owners

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Owners of blighted properties in The City could be punished for allowing their buildings to fall into disrepair, according to new legislation to be introduced today.

The Department of Public Works would be empowered to go after owners of blighted properties and even perform the repair work and stick owners with the bill afterward.

Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval, who will introduce his legislation today at the Board of Supervisors meeting, said a blighted property — of which he estimated there were hundreds in San Francisco’s poorest neighborhoods — “really is an indignity as well as an economic depressant for communities.”

The City currently has several codes authorizing it to levy penalties against property owners for subpar building conditions, but it lacks one comprehensive code and one that includes all aspects of blight.

Under the proposal, owners would be given 30 days to fix what is asked of them. If they fail, the department could perform the needed repairs itself and charge the owner. Failing to address the identified blight could also result in fines of up to $1,000 per day.

Under the law, a property could be considered blighted for a number of different reasons — dead trees, rank growth, garbage, litter, debris, flyers or if the paint on a building’s exterior is worn off. Other examples include deterioration of the building’s exterior stairs, roofs, or the property’s driveways or walkways; or defaced or broken windows.

DPW director Ed Reiskin said it’s a law San Francisco needs. He said that when residents see a poorly-kept property, they wonder why The City has not done anything to fix it up, but in many cases, The City does not have the legal means to address it.


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