City Of Tulsa Considers Crackdown On Negligent Property Owners

Wednesday, July 14th 2010, 4:40 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The City of Tulsa says it has a plan to crack down on deadbeat property owners. City council is voting on three new ordinances on Thursday.

If passed, they would mean stiffer penalties for those who neglect their homes. If the new ordinances pass, city officials believe they'll finally have the tools to deal with the property owners.

Tulsa homeowner Rozeita Ellis keeps her lawn mowed and her flower bed tidy, but her home is surrounded by vacant, run-down properties.

News On 6 Reporter Chris Wright: "What is it like living across the street from that?"

Rozeita Ellis: "It's horrible, especially with the business I have. I do alterations and dress making. I have people come by, and this is what they see in my neighborhood."

Mayor Dewey Bartlett chose this neighborhood to announce his proposed "quality of life" ordinances.

"These are like a cancer. They spread throughout neighborhoods. They allow debris to accumulate, and they eventually result in people leaving neighborhoods," Bartlett said.

The first ordinance is aimed at vacant buildings. Owners of these properties cited for violations will have to provide liability insurance, and a plan for demolishing or fixing the property.

"Particularly for those irresponsible property owners, particularly those who have investment property, we want them to responsible citizens and responsible property owners," said Dwain Midget of Working Neighborhoods Department.

The second ordinance would replace the city's property maintenance code. Homeowners would be required to take care of 'attractive nuisances.' That includes things like building fences around swimming pools and removing graffiti.

The third ordinance would give inspectors more power to crack down on repeat offenders.

The mayor believes the changes are needed to save neighborhoods.

"Property taxes go down, neighborhoods dwindle. The life and fabric and lifeblood of a city, its neighborhoods, are put in jeopardy," said Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett.

Failure to obey the new rules could result in stiff consequences. The maximum penalty is a fine of $1,000 a day and six months in jail.

City leaders say Tulsa has more than 10,000 vacant properties.

Under the new ordinances, if owners leave Oklahoma, they will be required to provide contact information to the city before they leave.