Residents Demand Banks Pay to Clean Up Blighted Properties

Los Angeles activists say city has failed to collect millions in potential fines from banks for blighted properties

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Residents are calling on city officials to aggressively enforce a 4-year-old city ordinance targeting blighted foreclosed homes. They say in four years, not one bank has been cited for failing to maintain unoccupied properties. Kim Baldonado reports live from Watts for the NBC4 News at 5 o'clock on Thursday, May 8, 2014.

    Community activists are calling on Los Angeles city leaders to enforce a 4-year-old ordinance targeting run down foreclosed properties they say has been ignored.

    Local residents gathered Thursday to clean up a neglected bank-owned home on East 111th Street in Watts and to protest what they say is the city's indifference to consequences of blighted homes in their neighborhoods.

    Amid graffiti and litter, they demanded action against large banks they say have allowed properties to become magnets for criminal activity.

    "There’s a lot of drugs going on in this house," said Peggy Mears, who works with Fix LA Coalition. "You have homeless people living in this property."

    The Foreclosure Registry Ordinance passed in 2010, in the wake of the real estate bust that left thousands of homes unoccupied across the region. Despite the real estate recovery, many properties across the city remain bank-owned.

    The ordinance requires owners of all foreclosed homes to file with the city. Failure to follow maintenance regulations could lead to fines of up to $1,000 a day and up to $100,000 annually per property.

    Betty Steele, another Los Angeles resident who helped with the clean up, said money from enforcement could go to cleaning up affected areas. She pointed to other cities who have aggressively used similar ordinances.

    "The ordinance has been in effect four years and city hasn't collected one fine," she said. "Other cities like Oakland and Riverside have collected millions of dollars and have fixed up their communities."

    A LA City Hall official said they are working with the City Attorney to enforce the ordinance.

     

    He added a majority of foreclosed homes are now backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are outside of the city's jurisdiction.