San Francisco cracks down on vacant buildings

The City has begun cracking down on unsightly eyesores by forcing the owners of hundreds of vacant or abandoned buildings to pay a $765 fee.

Nearly 200 notices were mailed  to owners of  vacant buildings earlier this month by  the Department of Building and Inspection stating they have 30 days to register the building as vacant and will be required to pay the fee.

Owners of vacant buildings must also meet new requirements, such as securing the building from trespassers and keeping the landscaping in “good condition.”

It is estimated that as many as 500 buildings are vacant or abandoned throughout The City.

The first wave of notices were sent out earlier this month to the owners of the most dilapidated buildings “long identified as public safety hazards, potential havens for criminal activities, and neighborhood eyesores,” according to the department.

“They are scattered throughout the city,” DBI spokesman William Strawn said. “It’s not like they are piled up in one or two places.”

The properties were identified by building inspectors spotting them during their daily routines, neighborhood complaints or referrals from captains of police district stations.

The department’s crackdown is required under a recently adopted law introduced by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu. The law was unanimously approved by the board and signed into law on Aug. 27 by Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Chiu said hundreds of vacant and abandoned properties are “contributing to neighborhood blight” and are places where “homeless folks, drug dealers take refuge.”

By forcing the property owners to better maintain their properties, property values in the neighborhood will increase along with safety, Chiu said. The requirements will also “prod” the property owner to consider bringing the property back into active use or selling it off to someone who would.

The notices sent out by DBI require the property owners to register with the city within 30 days or face “substantial financial and legal enforcement penalties.” By registering, they must provide information on how they secured the property to prevent unauthorized entry, future plans for the site and name of their liability insurance carrier.

Property owners will also have to pay an annual $765 fee, which is said to cover administrative and inspection costs.

“Many vacant buildings are potential public safety and fire hazards. And we know that people who may be involved in criminal activities also occupy such properties,” DBI director Vivian Day said in a statement. “That’s why we want these buildings secured and repaired, brought up to appropriate codes for structural safety, and returned to residential and commercial uses beneficial to everyone in the community.”

 

Disrepair

The City has started its crackdown on vacant or abandoned buildings.

500: Estimated number of vacant or abandoned buildings throughout The City

200: Approximate number of notices sent out to property owners of vacant or abandoned buildings

$765: Annual fee owners of vacant or abandoned buildings must now pay

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