Mayor Beutler Announces New Ordinance To Address Problem Properties

LINCOLN, Neb.-- The City of Lincoln sent a clear message Thursday: problem properties around this city will no longer be tolerated.

Mayor Beutler reiterated that point he spoke about a new ordinance that will have its first reading at the City Council meeting Monday, July 14 and a public hearing on July 21.

While the city has been working on addressing problem properties, since 2009, it still has around 50 to 100 vacant, neglected residential buildings around Lincoln that have been boarded up and deemed not livable.

Mayor Beutler said, "We will continue to work to find solutions that put the financial burden on those creating the problem."

The Lincoln Policy Network (a group of neighborhood residents, businesses and residential property owners, realtors and non-profits) have been working to help guide the city with passing this ordinance.

The proposed ordinance would allow the City Building And Safety Department to:

-Declare a vacant, residential building as 'neglected' when it violates code and the owner fails to respond.
-Once the property is declared neglected, force the owner to register the building and pay a $500.00 fee for each 90-day period the property remains neglected.
-Allow the city to foreclose against the property and sell it to a new owner if the liens build up and are unpaid without improvements to the property.

Doug Emery, co-chair of the Problem Resolution Team says, "This ordinance will help get this property into the hands of new owners who will improve or maintain them."

People who live in these neighborhoods say it's time something is done, these properties cause nothing but trouble.

One person who lives near one of these properties told 10/11 that, "The fact that no one is living here now, transients are breaking in, it's got trash throughout the building...it should be torn down."

Jill Jones has lived next to the old apartment complex on 14th Street and she said, "They're not doing anything...it's garbage in Lincoln."

And one landlord told 10/11 off camera that he feels it is more difficult to convince tenants that the area is safe when there is a vacant property that looks terrible in the neighborhood.

Improving the areas around Lincoln is top priority according to the City's Stronger, Safer Neighborhoods Association.

Shawn Ryba with Neighbor Works Lincoln said,"Folks who live next to these particular properties, their values go down and it's a public nuisance."

Now the city will meet to vote on this ordinance in early August and those on the PRT say they hope to see these properties make major moves in the next three to four years.

But in the end, it is up to the owners of these properties to take some action first.


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