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DC Council to Consider Bill Redefining Blighted Properties

by Nena Perry-Brown

DC Council to Consider Bill Redefining Blighted Properties: Figure 1
A formerly vacant property on Kennedy Street NW.

Although the high volume of development in the District may make it appear that vacant property is scarce, there are still plenty of blocks throughout the city with buildings commonly thought of as "vacant and blighted". Now, following last year's revelation that vacant and blighted properties were not being properly identified and taxed as such, the DC Council is considering a bill that will reexamine what classifies these properties.

The “Blighted Property Redevelopment Amendment Act of 2018”, introduced in February, would essentially give owners of vacant properties an opportunity to remedy the conditions that would put it in the "blighted" category. If owners board up doors, windows and other egresses, or if temporary coverings are removed as the owner applies for a building permit that would address renovation of those openings, the property cannot be identified as "blighted".

Typically, a building in the District is considered "vacant" if left unoccupied for more than thirty consecutive days and is considered "blighted" if allowed to deteriorate; both classifications trigger additional property taxes, with the "blighted" designation commanding more severe penalties.

If passed, the bill could avoid burdening property owners of less means and could prevent the effects of the predatory lien system that famously led to hundreds of properties being seized due to the accumulation of exorbitant fees years ago. On the other hand, the question of whether the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs has been properly managing vacant and blighted properties throughout the city is partially why a bill is still pending to split the agency in two.

A public hearing on the blighted property bill, along with another previously-introduced bill to provide restitution to secondhand victims of substandard home renovations, will be held on Thursday, July 12th.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dc-council-to-discuss-bill-redefining-blighted-properties/14200

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