The Los Angeles City Council approved measures Wednesday that could put some teeth in a 2010 ordinance that requires banks to register vacant, foreclosed properties and fines them $1,000 a day if the homes are not maintained.
Since the council and mayor signed off on the crackdown in 2010, the city has yet to collect a dime from banks that fail to maintain foreclosed homes in their possession.
The amendments approved Wednesday on a 12-0 vote calls for more “pro-active” steps, including having city employees inspect foreclosed properties and requiring lenders to submit monthly inspection reports.
City leaders continue work out how to better fund the program, but the measures approved could mean banks with foreclosed homes will pay an additional $274.33 fee, on top of an existing $201.50 fee, to cover each inspection.
The budget for the fiscal year starting in July sets aside money for hiring six inspectors in the Building and Safety Department.
Councilman Richard Alarcon, who amended the motion, said he also included provisions to ensure “full cost recovery” for carrying out the program.
Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti, who has about there weeks left in his tenure on the City Council, spoke in support of the amendments, saying the extra steps are needed to ensure that “blighted” homes do not become “places of prostitution and drug dealing.”
“A bank is just like a property owner. We’re not treating any worse or any better,” Garcetti said. “If a property owner does not take care of his property, we fine them, because it brings down the whole neighborhood. If it’s a good bank, they’re taking care of that. If it’s a bad bank, we have to hold them accountable as well.”
The City Attorney is supposed to report back on whether the city can make lenders maintain the foreclosed properties. Housing Department and Building and Safety Department officials would write quarterly reports on the effort.