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City Council Hears Proposed Ordinance Regarding Foreclosed Homes

Two San Diego community groups proposed a city ordinance today that would provide for fining the owners of unoccupied foreclosed properties that fall into disrepair.

Representatives of The Center on Policy Initiatives and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment pitched the the idea to the City Council's Land Use and Housing Committee.

"Our communities are hurting from the numbers of foreclosures in their areas," said the CPI's Norma Rodriguez.

The group wants the city to require the owners of foreclosed properties to register them with the city, so that it will have a ready way to identify and penalize them.

Rodriguez said poorly maintained properties lower the value of nearby homes and invite crimes and pests. Existing city laws have no teeth, she said.

Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, the committee chair, said city staffers were already working on an ordinance regarding unoccupied, foreclosed homes, which she said she hoped to bring before the City Council soon. It would not cover occupied properties, she said.

David Lagstein, of ACCE, said the city needs to be "extra aggressive" on the foreclosure issue.

By creating a registry paid for by banks or real estate firms, city officials would not have to search for "irresponsible" property owners, he said.

The groups urged fines up to $500 per day for failing to register a foreclosed property and up to $1,000 per day for failing to maintain them. ACCE regularly arranges demonstrations aimed at banks.

City code enforcement officials said the proposed registry would likely increase their workload from about 500 cases to about 50,000.

The committee took no official action today. Lightner asked city staffers for a report on the two proposed ordinances, to be presented to the council on Oct. 26.

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