Lingering blight costs owners

The owners of more than 300 problem properties in The City that attract graffiti, squatters and other unwanted attention are now facing a new annual fee of $765 if the buildings are not cleaned up.

In the year since San Francisco instituted the fine for neglected and abandoned properties, the Department of Building Inspection has acquired a list of 365 offending addresses.

“The idea was this would be a way to encourage people to put them back on the market, hopefully within a year,” department spokesman William Strawn said. “I don’t know what the verdict is in terms of whether the new legislation has really helped eliminate abandoned buildings.”

However, Strawn did say that so far 150 buildings have been removed from the list because they either applied for a permit or they are up for rent or sale.

For instance, a gutted beige building in lower Nob Hill — the remains of a burned-out grocery store — is off the list after 16 years of abandonment.

Neighbors complained about the building at 907 Post St., which is near Hyde Street and has boarded windows and blight, so the department issued the citation and the building went on the market for $699,000 three weeks ago.

It was one of several properties reported to the department specifically because of its unsightliness.

Realtor Adam Filly, representing the owners, said he did not think they put it up for sale because of the $765 fine, but that “it was just time to sell.” He said several offers have been made since it was first listed, even though the new owner would have to put in some work.

So far, 77 percent of the 365 fines have been paid, and the department is working to collect the rest. Initially, when Supervisor David Chiu’s legislation passed last year, the department predicted that there were as many as 500 offending properties in The City.

“That number is of course always changing,” Strawn said.

Since the point of the law is to put neglected properties back on the market, the department is giving owners who ignore the citation an extra push. In February, it started issuing increased fines for nonresponding owners at nine times the original cost — nearly $6,900.

“It’s a way of providing some economic incentive for owners to be responsive,” he said.

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

Paying for neglect

365 Citations issued

283 Property owners who have paid

150 Approximate number of buildings removed from the list

$765 Amount of fine for continued neglect

$6,885 Penalty if citation is ignored

Source: Department of Building Inspection

Bay Area NewsDepartment of Building InspectionLocalSan Francisco

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