Municipal lack of interest

Urban deterioration grows and the City Council does not care whether its ordinances are enforced

Many areas in the city of Los Angeles are showing the effects of urban deterioration caused by neglected foreclosed properties that the banks are not maintaining. This is happening despite the existence of fines in the books to punish those who neglect their properties.

Two years ago, the City Council approved an ordinance to impose a $1,000 fine on those who do not maintain empty houses in good condition. However, so far, not even one dollar has been collected for this reason, according to a Daily News report.

It is not because there are not enough offenders; there are plenty. The register of foreclosed properties in Los Angeles is estimated to include at least 18,000 homes-a number that could be much higher-of which a significant portion are abandoned.

For example, recently the District Attorney’s Office filed a civil lawsuit against U.S. Bancorp, stating that 170 out of its 1,500 foreclosed properties are in poor condition. This legal action, which seeks to impose a fine of $2,500 per day, seems like the only recourse Los Angeles has to fight this side of urban deterioration.

Last year, cities such as Oakland and Riverside collected $1.6 million and $3 million respectively thanks to similar measures to the one in Los Angeles, which collected zero.

The explanation is that there are not enough inspectors, the municipal bureaucracy does not prioritize it and obviously, council members are not very concerned about enforcing their ordinances.

The results are properties surrounded by rubble, with abandoned gardens, doors without locks, broken windows and showing traces of having been occupied as drug dens or for some other criminal activity. Mosquitoes take over abandoned pools, to the point that in San Fernando Valley a case of West Nile virus that originated in a pool was reported.

The discrepancy of not enforcing an ordinance to prevent urban deterioration is costing money that the city needs, while homeowners lose because the value of their homes drops, and the health of Angelenos is endangered.

It is not right for council members to pass ordinances and then not care about their enforcement. They are not doing their job well.