City Council Regular Meeting


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  14.       
Meeting Date: 02/12/2020  
Submitted By: Peter Gardner, City Planner
Focus Area: Strengthen Trade & Commerce
Promote Douglas Strategy: Develop a sense of identity/sense of place to instill community pride
Promote Douglas Goal: Other or NA
Strengthen Trade and Commerce Strategy: Seek to improve City’s image and develop
identity
Strengthen Trade and Commerce Goal: Other or NA

SUBJECT:
DISCUSSION/DECISION on approval of Resolution No. 20-1399, a Resolution of the Mayor and Council, Cochise County, Arizona, in response to the League of Arizona Cities & Towns request to show support of pending Legislation moving as House Bill (HB)2705 regarding ABSENTEE LANDLORDS OF VACANT AND ABANDONED BUILDINGS; and AUTHORIZING the EXECUTION OF SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:
This item is brought forward in response to a request from the League of Arizona Cities and Towns to support a bill pending in the Arizona State Legislature that would permit municipalities to adopt ordinances related to the care, maintenance, and regulation of vacant and abandoned buildings.
BACKGROUND:
HB2705 would define vacant and abandoned structures and would grant municipalities the right ro pass ordinances relating to their care.  Such ordinances would be permitted to target specific zoning districts, such as only commercial districts or only historic overlay districts.  It would provide a tool to better provide for public safety and community appearance by requiring an in-state representative to be on file for a building in case of emergency, adequate insurance be maintained, and inspections by city building and public safety staff to ensure basic safety.  
DISCUSSION:
Arizona’s rural cities and towns have witnessed the decline of their Main Street and historic downtown areas at the hands of absentee landlords and property speculators. This situation worsened during the recession when jobs in these regions disappeared. Businesses closed, leading to properties becoming vacant or sold at foreclosure or tax lien sales for pennies on the dollar. Some of these properties were purchased without a plan for occupancy or development, only to sit vacant for years. In extreme cases the properties were allowed to deteriorate, collapse or eventually burn. The vacancy, decay and destruction of these buildings has a tremendous impact on the historic character and attraction of these cities and towns and a chilling effect on revitalization and economic development.

Neighboring owners’ property rights are weakened when absentee landlords fail to appropriately maintain or do not place their property into productive use. As a result, land values of adjacent properties are diminished, and economic development slows because there is little to no desire for new investment in businesses or construction due to the perception that no one cares about the community. Historic buildings often share common walls, and when an adjacent building contains hazardous conditions such as a leaking or exposed roof, faulty electrical wiring, broken pipes or structural damage, it adversely impacts the safety and value of the adjacent properties and exposes its occupants to potentially dangerous conditions through no fault of their own.

Vacant and abandoned buildings also cost communities more in taxpayer dollars for fire suppression and public safety. When absentee landlords do not properly maintain buildings and allow them to fall into disrepair, they become targets for criminal activity like squatting, vandalism and arson. Cities and towns have worked to abate chronically blighted properties to the best of their ability using very limited resources. However, new tools are needed to encourage absentee landlords to better care for their properties and relieve taxpayers and adjacent property owners of this burden.

"...that the Mayor and Council approve Resolution No. 20-1399."
Attachments
Res. 20-1399 Landlors of Vacant or Abandoned Buildings


    

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