York City creates ordinance aimed at reducing blight
As a result of a bill passed Tuesday night, lenders who have repossessed properties in York City will now be required to register their foreclosed properties with the city.
The new ordinance establishes the registry and will enable officials to hold lenders accountable for the maintenance of foreclosed properties.
It comes in response to the mortgage foreclosure crisis and the negative impact it has had on the city.
Lenders will be required to inspect newly foreclosed properties, determine whether or not they are occupied and register with the office of permits, planning and zoning. The ordinance also requires owners to properly maintain and secure properties.
Lenders who neglect to follow the new rules will be subject to fines.
Into action: So who will enforce the ordinance?
That responsibility will fall on the Department of Economic and Community Development, business administrator Michael Doweary said.
At this early stage, officials aren't sure how the enforcement of the ordinance will unfold, but there is a possibility that the city may hire a company act as a liaison between it and the banks that own foreclosure properties, City Councilman Michael Helfrich said.
Soon after the council discussed the bill in committee, by coincidence, a man who works for Community Champions Corp., a company that provides just that service, contacted him.
"He didn't even know we were doing this," Helfrich said.
Community Champions might have an advantage over the city when it comes to communicating with lenders, Helfrich said. "This company has existing relationships with banks through its work with other municipalities."
Helfrich said that, though the decision is not his to make, he thinks it might be a good idea to contract with an outside company.
Doing the work in-house might be cheaper, he said, but he doesn't believe the point of the ordinance is to bring in revenue: It's for the city to have leverage to get the properties fixed.
Doweary said the city will have to go through an evaluation process to decide whether or not to contract out the work — the administration will have to receive a proposal and then do a cost-benefit analysis.
But since the ordinance is now official, that process can start.
"Now that we have the green light, we'll start exploring," he said.
— Reach Julia Scheib at firstname.lastname@example.org.