Assembly eyes stricter penalties for nuisance properties

Published: Jan. 18, 2019 at 5:35 PM AKST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

The Anchorage Assembly met Friday for a workshop discussing a proposed ordinance that would increase the city's ability to manage abandoned and nuisance properties.

The ordinance would create three key changes.

It would expand the city's ability to abate problem properties by creating a Nuisance Property Abatement Fund. Fees and fines from properties that violate codes would go to cover the costs needed to clean up the property.

The ordinance also would create a foreclosure register for the city. Municipal attorney Becky Windt Pearson says that would close a loophole in current regulations that allows foreclosed properties to deteriorate in the time after a foreclosure process begins and when a bank takes full control.

The ordinance would also raise existing fines and fees for vacant and abandoned property. As proposed, the ordinance would keep a $100 annual fee the first year a property is vacant or abandoned, but increase the fee for subsequent years. The fourth and following year a property is abandoned the proposed fee would be $5,000.

"In the last budget cycle in 2018 the assembly appropriated $200,000 to try to address this issue," Windt Pearson said. "As part of that process, we thought, 'Well, we have $200,000 dollars we can spend this year,' but how can we make a long-term change that makes it easier for us to take action and that creates a sustainable funding source for future action."

Windt Pearson says that the goal is to turn vacant properties into something productive.

"It's two-fold. We want to make sure that people take accountability for their properties and don't allow their properties to become nuisances or persistent vacancies," Windt Pearson said. "It's also to incentivize the redevelopment of vacant properties as something productive for our communities - as new housing, as new business that can be positive forces in the community as opposed to simply a property that's an eyesore that creates other negative externalities."

Several assembly members voiced concerns about the fee structure and asked for clarification on the definition of what kind of properties would be affected.

The ordinance is scheduled for public hearing before the assembly on February 12.