Crumbling buildings full of garbage and overrun by foliage are certainly an eyesore, but there’s not much cities can do when these edifices are privately owned – unless there’s a threat to public safety.
But building abatements can cost cities $20,000-$30,000 per structure, according to City Manager Pete Carr. However, the city of Orland wants to create a financial plan to ensure decrepit buildings don’t wreck the city budget.
Nothing is set in stone, but at the Orland City Council meeting on Aug. 7 the city discussed the possibility of creating a separate fund to deal with nuisance properties. Creating the account may not require additional funding, like tax increases. Council members suggested using leftover money from other city funds to create an emergency account.
“We have that façade improvement program; maybe we can use what is unspent and build a reserve for abatement of these issues,” said Mayor Dennis Hoffman. “If the city needs to tear down a building for safety reasons, we need to have the money.”
While the city has dealt with its fair share of nuisance properties in the past, the most recent issue was brought to the city’s attention by Councilmember Salina Edwards. According to Edwards, the owner of a local dry cleaner store is dealing with water leakage because of a neglected property next door.
“Unfortunately, last year, the shared wall started to leak and she was getting water running into the cleaners,” Edwards said. “She (the dry-cleaning owner) tracked down the owner and sent him a letter and tried to talk to him. But he doesn’t care if the building rots where it is; he doesn’t intend to do anything.”
The owner of the nuisance building allegedly owes money through a lawsuit filed by family members of an individual who died in the building, Edwards said. Edwards believes this may be the reason why the building hasn’t been taken care of – the owner can’t afford to.
Orland has sent the building owner a letter regarding vegetation overgrowth on the property, Carr said. But at this time, it’s uncertain what action the city will take to deal with the property. The City Council agreed to explore the possibility of creating a separate fund to deal with abatements in the future.