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Council Approves Foreclosure Registry In Party-Line Vote

The new-look San Diego City Council had its first party line vote today, splitting 5-4 while giving final approval to the creation of a registry of defaulted properties.

The Property Value Protection Ordinance is designed to prompt owners of homes going through foreclosure to keep up their properties so they don't become blighted. Title-holders of such properties will have to provide contact information to code enforcement officers.

They will also pay a fee to cover the expense of creating and maintaining the registration system and the cost of monitoring, inspecting and investigating the properties. The ordinance also authorizes the assessment of administrative civil penalties for failing to comply with the registration requirements.

"It's one of three measures that this council has supported to basically create a strategy to help keep people in their homes, to encourage the banking industry, the lending industry, to work with homeowners and help them stay in their home and, if that's not possible, to be responsible (for) this vacant property,'' according to Councilwoman Marti Emerald, a Democrat who supported the ordinance.

She said the ordinance is a proactive measure that will let code enforcement officers know who to contact when a property falls into blight.

The problem of abandoned properties with overgrown weeds, broken windows and other signs of neglect has been especially acute in Barrio Logan and south San Diego neighborhoods represented by the author of the ordinance, Councilman David Alvarez.

Republican council members Kevin Faulconer and Lorie Zapf continued their opposition, and were joined by GOP newcomers Mark Kersey and Scott Sherman on the technically nonpartisan council.

Zapf said the ordinance was not the right solution to the problem. A separate ordinance that deals with blight from abandoned homes goes a long way toward taking care of the issue, she said.

"This is creating a bureaucracy of about $460,000 worth of people to data entry every single notice of default that comes in across the city every single day,'' Zapf said. "The problem is, of all of those, only 23 percent actually ever become foreclosed properties and of those, only a fraction become blighted.''

She said most of the information will never be needed or used, especially with foreclosures down 73 percent from 2008. She also pointed out that the city doesn't even have enough code enforcement officers to investigate all the complaints it receives.

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