City Council approves ordinance to better address neighborhood blight

San Diego City Council members Todd Gloria (District 3) and Sherri Lightner (District 1) worked together to enforce tough new measures to more effectively deal with abandoned properties that negatively impact neighborhoods throughout the city. The City Council approved the changes unanimously on Sept. 19.

The Abandoned Properties Ordinance expands the definition of what constitutes an abandoned property and imposes more stringent maintenance requirements while making it easier for police and code inspectors to respond to nuisance properties.

By broadening the definition of abandoned properties and identifying those with code violations as public nuisances, the ordinance allows the city to be more aggressive in addressing

vacant properties

, especially those that have become unsightly because of litter and debris or that have become centers for gang and other illegal activity. The ordinance would allow the city to require property owners to file their plans on restoring properties to productive use. It also addresses vacant foreclosed properties, which blight neighborhoods and pull down property values.

Councilmember Gloria, a champion of the new ordinance since 2009 when he chaired the Land Use and Housing Committee, said the long wait and hard work to secure approval of the law was worthwhile.

“The Abandoned Properties Ordinance gives the City the leverage we need to resolve troublesome properties, which are found in neighborhoods throughout San Diego,” said Councilmember Todd Gloria.

Councilmember Sherri Lightner, who represents La Jolla and also pushed for the ordinance when she served as chair of the Land Use and Housing Committee in 2011, said abandoned properties are everyone’s problem.

Because the ordinance also forces property owners to file a statement of intent on their plans for property, it will return these vacant properties to more productive uses faster, she explained.

“This ordinance is about nipping in the bud the problems abandoned properties inflict on our neighborhoods and fast-tracking their rehabilitation,” Lightner said.