Blighted homes along East Markison Avenue — Photo by Anne Evans
Property owners that ignore orders from code enforcement may soon face harsher penalties. Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman is asking City Council to approve an update to City Code that double the maximum fine from $500 to $1000 and triple the maximum jail time from 60 days to 180 days. Business penalties would also jump from a maximum of $3000 to $5000 for noncompliance.
“Those whose disregard has led to blight in our neighborhoods must be held accountable,” said Coleman. “If they are unmotivated to take care of their properties by their consciences, perhaps they will be motivated by the prospect of jail time.”
The new legislation has been updated in collaboration with City Attorney Richard C. Pfeiffer, which also increases violations from a third degree misdemeanor to a first degree misdemeanor.
“We are serious about holding negligent property owners responsible for their failures to maintain their properties so that our neighborhoods do not deteriorate and lose their values,” said Pfeiffer.
In addition to the updated penalties, Coleman is also proposing a nearly $600,000 budgetary boost to hire eight additional code enforcement officers that can proactively address target areas that suffer from the most blight.