Monday, September 28, 2009

City Implements Urban Blight Reduction Program

Immediate benefits of organizational restructuring realized

As part of the recent reorganization of several city of Richmond departments, the city has implemented a new program aimed at reducing urban blight. The new program, being orchestrated by the Department of Public Works (DPW) will address the maintenance needs of vacant properties in four city precincts. To date, more than 250 privately owned properties, which previously came under the purview of the Department of Community Development (DCD), will now be mowed and maintained by DPW.

“I believe this new program follows Mayor Dwight Jones’ dedication to ensure the best use of taxpayer dollars and implementing operational efficiencies,” said city Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall. “The Mayor takes great pride in the city, its beauty and rich history. As such, all neighborhoods will receive the same level of service to maintain the aesthetics and integrity of our community, as we work toward making Richmond a tier one city.”

This phase of the program, which began on September 23, 2009, includes mowing and removal of overgrown vegetation and refuse from all four precincts. Three of the precincts (108 properties in total) will be completed by September 30, 2009. The remaining 132 properties in Precinct 1 will be completed no later than October 31, 2009. Subsequent phases of the program include, but are not limited to:

· Coordinating efforts with other city departments to identify and address other areas in need of maintenance.

· Implementing a system for routine maintenance of lots in need of maintenance

· Working with the City Attorney's Office to increase pressure on those property owners with significant amounts due to the city for work performed on their properties to recover the amount due.

The city's division of code enforcement will continue to inspect and identify potential code violations. Once it has been determined that a property has reached the level of non-compliance and the property owner has failed to address the deficiency, DPW will manage the maintenance of such properties. DPW plans also include the use of local inmate labor to bring cited properties back into compliance. Also liens will be placed on each property in an effort to ensure that the city will be compensated by the owners for the work performed.

An advisory group, consisting of the City Attorney’s Office, DPW, and code enforcement, will determine the best method of returning these vacant properties to productive use, as well as developing a system of recouping any costs incurred by the city as a result of code violations.

Contact: Tammy D. Hawley, (804) 646-3110