New D.C. legislation will make it harder — and more expensive — for blighted property to sit vacant

DC Legislation

 

It may soon be more expensive — and more difficult — for a property owner to slowly sit on vacant or blighted property in the District. The D.C. Council will take a final vote Nov. 15 on the Vacant Property Enforcement Act of 2016, which was unanimously approved in its first pass by the council on Nov. 1. The legislation, introduced by Councilwoman Elissa Silverman , I-At large, and co-introduced by nine colleagues, would reduce the maximum amount of time a vacant property can qualify for an exemption from higher vacancy tax rates, close a loophole that allows continuous renewal of construction permits to qualify for tax exemptions and require owners of vacant properties to prove they are no longer subject to the higher tax rates. Read more here!

 

http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2016/11/07/dc-legislation-takes-aim-at-blighted-properties.html

To Tackle Blight, Kansas City Will Crunch The Numbers

Tackling blight is expensive. Kansas City, Kansas, is betting that data can reverse decades of urban decay. The Unified Government hopes to address decades of neglect with money from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities initiative. The idea is to connect smaller municipalities with data tools that can help them govern better. The advantage to partnering with Bloomberg is Kansas City, Kansas, won’t have to develop its own infrastructure to fight the problem. It can borrow from what partner cities have learned. Click here for the full story.

Detroit Vacant Lots Become Stormwater Gardens

Four vacant lots on Detroit’s west side have been given new life as stormwater retention gardens, each capable of corralling up to 300,000 gallons of water below ground per year while creating a beautiful common space for neighbors up above.

Initiated by an interdisciplinary team of University of Michigan students, the project represents a few significant firsts: the first green stormwater infrastructure project to receive investment from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD); the first time that department and the Detroit Land Bank Authority have collaborated. And with their massive capacity and appealing design, the stakeholders are also hoping to prove just how much green infrastructure can do. Click here for the full story.

L.A. to Convert Motel Units to 500 Apartments for Homeless Vets

The city of Los Angeles has approved a deal for nonprofit and private developers to convert “nuisance” motels into 500 permanent supportive apartments for homeless veterans, a major step forward toward developing large-scale housing for hundreds of homeless veterans. Advocates say about 2,700 homeless veterans remain in the county, despite an intensive drive by local and federal officials.

Under the deal, developers will purchase underutilized, often run-down motels from private owners and convert them to efficiency apartments. The city’s housing authority will issue vouchers funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which will cover residents’ rent and provide supportive services, including case management and counseling. Click here for the full story.

Blight into Beauty One Chain Link Fence at a Time

The mayor of Imperial Beach, California has made it his mission to clean up neighborhoods by tearing down one rusty chain-link fence at a time. He is partnering with nonprofit organizations, such as one that uses sustainable construction techniques to create affordable homes, community centers, creative gathering spaces and other structures out of trash and recyclables, to develop abandoned sites into useful gathering places for the community. Click here for the full story.

Vacant Home Tour Changes Conversation around Vacancy

This article provides a more in-depth look at Wilkinsburg, PA’s innovative vacant property tour program. The program tells the story of several vacant homes and businesses, reminding visitors of the rich history of the neighborhood, and inviting participants to view properties as opportunities instead of liabilities. Click here to read the in-depth interview with the project proponents on what it took to pull it off.

Paducah, Kentucky Attracts Artists to Rehab Homes

Artists from all over America started coming in 2000 to buy and restore homes in Lowertown, Paducah, Kentucky’s oldest — and most blighted – neighborhood. The neighborhood is now home to more than 70 artists, thanks to the city’s artist relocation program which was made possible with the help of a locally owned bank that willing to take a chance on this untested idea. Click here for the full story.

“Artists are the kind of folks who see what can be,” Barnett said. “They see potential, and we knew that was what it was going to take when they came in to see the neighborhood in its current condition.”

Window Decals to Spruce Up Downtown Vacant Properties

The city of Durango, Colorado plans to distribute vinyl window decals for display on vacant properties downtown which will highlight historical images and dates, as well as aspects of skiing, mining, and Native American culture. This creative way to obscure renovation activity inside the buildings and brighten up blighted areas is one move toward neighborhood beautification. Click here for the full story.

Kingwood Receives WVDEP ‘Land Revitalization’ Award

In May, the City of Kingwood received the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Land Revitalization award for their robust recycling program. When the program was initiated, operations were constricted to the City Sanitary Sewer bed area. Program participation quickly increased, and operations outgrew the existing space. City leaders recognized a local abandoned warehouse to purchase as a dedicated recycling program building.

The Penmarva building, which previously housed a grocery wholesale company, was dilapidated and had been neglected since 2007. But the size and location made it ideal for recycling operations.

The new Kingwood Recycling Center, which is more accessible and customer friendly, opened for business in February 2016. Congratulations to the city of Kingwood! Click here for more information.