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Vacant buildings registry proposal advances at Oklahoma City council meeting

Oklahoma City advocate for neighborhoods says a measure to reduce blight will serve the “silent majority” of responsible home and business owners.
by William Crum Modified: November 19, 2013 at 7:35 pm •  Published: November 20, 2013

Advocates on Tuesday urged the city council to adopt a proposal intended to reduce the burden — financial and visual — of more than 12,000 vacant and abandoned buildings in Oklahoma City.

“We drive by it every day. We look at it. We live with it,” said developer Ron Walters.

Walters asked council members to take care of the “silent majority” whose property values and quality of life suffer because they must put up with dilapidated structures in their neighborhoods.

The proposal would create a registry of vacant buildings and provide for inspections to monitor their condition. Property owners would pay fees to offset administrative and enforcement costs.

A study found 12,106 Oklahoma City buildings had been vacant six months or longer in 2012. It said those structures cost the city millions of dollars in lost revenue and put disproportionate pressure on police and fire services.

Owners who keep their homes and businesses well-maintained bear losses of $2.7 billion in property values because of blight from poorly maintained properties, the study indicated.

It has been a growing problem, with the number of long-term vacant housing units rising 25 percent between 2000 and 2010.

The cost of maintaining eyesores is low, with owners who allow buildings to deteriorate instead of putting them to productive use paying an average of just $112 per year in property taxes.

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by William Crum
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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