In South Florida communities’ battle blight of vacant foreclosed properties that never seem to end; liens placed on them is not having much success. Code violations penalties pile up as new owners ignore the fines. Municipalities are granting amnesties to enable sale of the houses; but the trouble continues to plague neighbours and entire communities – foul trash, tall grasses and increase in criminal activity.
In the amnesty programmes generous discounts are offered by the administration for outstanding code violation dues if owners return the properties to standards expected by the code. These discounts are not the same in all the cities – ranging from 10% to 25% of the total accrued fine. The cities of Dania Beach, Tamarac, Plantation, Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach and Sunrise are all toeing this line.
But an official of Boynton Beach, Scott Blasie is skeptical of this move becoming effective. Blasie deals with code compliance and said, “In the long haul, everyone gets a blue light special and some of the people don’t deserve a deal at all.” Blasie added that the reduction of liens in Boynton is producing more results. It is compelling the new owners to comply with code, pay an application fee of $200, $50 on each lien and clear all pending dues to the city like tax and water bills prior to asking for leniency.
Mike Ryan admitted that the programmes on liens may have imperfections but they hardly have any other choice. Decaying vacant houses cost the administration money and time as well as blight without bringing anything into the tax coffer.
Charlotte Burnie, the commissioner of Pompano Beach said that the crisis “has caused a lot of slum and blight between a lot of nice homes. The foreclosure rate has made a very, very big impact on the neighbourhood”. The amnesty plan was mulled over by Pompano Beach in 2010 when there were outstanding cases numbering 1,400. The total amount due from violations was $454 million. The programme made its debut from 2010 February. By it those who bring up the maintenance standard of the units to code rules have to deposit a fourth of the fine that had been imposed. The programme has been running for 11 months; 1,100 cases are still pending together with $297 million as fines. The programme has been granted extension till 19th February 2011.