October 29, 2008
Beauty Blight Is In The Eye Of The City (And Perhaps Your Neighbors)
The law empowers city officials to hit property owners with up to $1,000 in fines for violations, and, if left unabated, The City could correct the blight and bill the property owner for the work….Under the law, a property is considered blighted for various reasons, including dead trees, debris or if the paint on a building’s exterior is worn off. Other examples include deterioration of the building’s exterior stairs, or defaced or broken windows.
No word on whether or not a construction site on hold might qualify as well. Whether or not it will apply to the color purple. Or what one's to do when it's the arbiters that stand in your way of abatement.
∙ Blight will cost property owners in San Francisco [San Francisco Examiner]
∙ If Only We Didn’t Get So Nervous Every Time We Heard “Blight” [SocketSite]
First Published: October 29, 2008 9:50 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
this has the possibiltiy of being quite the cash cow for the City Of San Francisco.
Luckily I'm sure it will be enforced in a consistent manner and there is sure to be no way to pervert the law.
specifically, I'm sure it will be applied equally to City Supervisors and Feinstein/Boxer as well as to the poor neighborhoods.
I hope it's also applied to purple buildings. I hate purple buildings.
And what about that house highlit long ago... I think it was fluorescent green or something?
and I seem to recall a certain run down theatre in a certain high-class neighborhood that might need a'fixin as well.
Posted by: ex SF-er at October 29, 2008 10:16 AM
I can't wait for the unintended consequences on this one...although, given that it passed unanimously, maybe the unintended consequences of the legislation (selective, politically-motivated enforcement, non-application to public property and a general increasing of the cost of government borne by regular residents) won't really be "unintended". Maybe next they'll redfine blight to include dirty, rusty and unkempt automobiles parked on public streets? You can just smell the desperation coming from city hall to try and close the future budget deficit without cutting any of their special interest patronage that keeps them in power.
Posted by: Ricardo at October 29, 2008 10:38 AM
Who determines what is blighted? Because if you have ornery neighbors, you could easily end up in a 'blight' war if they let anything beyond the most extreme cases through.
Posted by: rr at October 29, 2008 10:42 AM
Does anyone honestly believe this will be enforced? What a farce. Half this city is blighted in one way or another, especially when you get out of the "real SF."
Think I'll leave my old El Camino up on cinder blocks in the front yard for now. It's not blight, actually, it's modern art. I'm even considering applying for a federal grant so I can wrap it in plastic ala Cristo.
Posted by: Dude at October 29, 2008 10:47 AM
my building needs repainted. can i call that a blight and get the owner on it ASAP?
Posted by: spencer at October 29, 2008 10:49 AM
I see lots of blighted properties that still wait out years of permitting.
"okay, we'll demo"
"you can't demo"
"then we'll build up"
"that will block my light and air and cause shadows"
"that blight is historically significant"
Posted by: sparky-the-bear at October 29, 2008 10:50 AM
Does this mean we can levy penalties against the city for the "blight" that the homeless leave on their streets & sidewalks throughout the city?
Posted by: pica1986 at October 29, 2008 10:51 AM
what a bad bad law ... hey Supervisors, try making it easier to tear down blighted buildings and redevelop the land instead of passing a law that is sure to do nothing more then to get neighbors reporting each other for petty reasons.
Posted by: badlydrawnbear at October 29, 2008 10:51 AM
Utterly stupid and arbitrary law -- perhaps the best way to demonstrate its stupidity is by reporting en masse every city-owned blighted property so the city can fine and remediate itself.
City government will probably have to spend more of your tax dollars to enforce the law on private property owners (including holding a staggering number of hearings for folks who appeal their blight notice).
Posted by: Live Smart at October 29, 2008 11:18 AM
I've heard the appeal process will be very limited and "merit" must be found to even get to that stage so it's def. designed to be a revenue generator. Having said that, I don't view this as such a big deal, it's actually comparable to laws in other city's like Oakland and San Jose. I'm just not sure if it's done much for Oakland....
Posted by: Jake at October 29, 2008 11:57 AM
Oh no ... does that mean that the building on 6th with the sofas and chairs hanging off it will finally get a fix? I will kind of miss chuckling at the comments I get from visitors who look askance at it.
Posted by: Oceangoer at October 29, 2008 12:23 PM
(shakes head slowly in a combination of sadness, amazement and disgust)
Posted by: lefty at October 29, 2008 12:34 PM
One of the most severely blighted property in the city is the vast Muni/Bart property at Balboa, acres and acres of trash strewn lots...That is Sandoval's own district. Maybe he should start there and then worry about private property owners.
Posted by: JKD at October 29, 2008 1:06 PM
I didn't understand this one. A friend in the Mistro area (Mission/Castro boundary) had a pissy neighbor report him for the barely peeling paint on his building. The city ordered him to paint it ASAP or they would do it for him. This was a couple years ago.
Posted by: Eric in SF at October 29, 2008 1:16 PM
We have worked hard in Ingleside/Merced Heights to improve our neighborhood, cleaning Brooks park on our own, being active in our neighborhood groups, watching out for one another. The abandoned boarded up house down the street does not reflect the same concern for our community. It Attracts vermin. Its owner lives out of town and has not responded to our offers to help improve the property. I look forward to using this law in the spirit in which it was intended.
Posted by: Johnny at October 29, 2008 1:21 PM
great ... I'd like to submit the State of California as the biggest blight in Rincon Hill ...
Posted by: jamie at October 29, 2008 1:55 PM
Speaking of blights...does anyone have any information on the development (maybe 20 units) at the corner of third street and 19th street in the central waterfront. Development started years ago (taking a very long time to get framed etc.) and stopped over a year ago. (note - I'm not referring to the nicer development still being developed at 3rd and 18th).
I know that corner isn't in the middle of anyone's radar but I'm curious about what could happen in this situation where a developer has clearly disappeared.
Posted by: luvinmissionbay at October 29, 2008 2:43 PM
I agree with the author of 'the spirit with which it was intended.' I'm sure those who don't take pride in their neighborhood and pay excessive property taxes can cry foul, but what about my neighbor who patches up their graffiti with white paint and leave their giant trash cans out 24/7 which attracts looters and graffiti artists alike. I've asked repeatedly that they be sited after politely offering to help them clean up their building. Maybe an actual fine will police this in some way.
Posted by: Amy at October 29, 2008 2:50 PM
I think the Infinity towers are a blight and plan to report them soon.
Posted by: spencer at October 29, 2008 3:42 PM
I don't think this goes far enough. There are a lot of rather scruffily dressed people who walk around this City. They should be forced to buy some new clothes at the GAP because it really is offensive to have to look at them every day. Oh and don't get me started on people driving old beaters or cheap Korean cars. I am fully confident that the BOS has the wisdom to turn SF into a pristine paradise.
Posted by: NoeNeighbor at October 29, 2008 4:33 PM
What could go wrong?
Posted by: Delancey at October 29, 2008 7:15 PM
Ugly phony towers ia a blight. So is the cubey thing.
Posted by: kathleen at October 29, 2008 7:55 PM
If San Francisco wanted to get rid of the worst blight in the city, it would eliminate the Board of Supervisors.
Posted by: PSPMike at October 30, 2008 7:45 AM
Kathleen: I completely agree with you on Cubix SF... Symphony towers isn't that bad.
Posted by: SFer at October 30, 2008 12:58 PM
Of course this will be used not in the manner intended. What about graffitti on city owned property, Cal Trans property. How about repealing rent control? How about prosecuting taggers, and fining them more. Generally it is not the building owner who is causing the blight.
Posted by: SF2OAK at October 30, 2008 1:27 PM
If your lot was really wanted, this legislation would not be material. All it takes to declare a place "blighted" is for a planner to say so or a board of elected officials to vote so.
I think this could prove useful. I live on one of my neighborhood's charming alleyways where we happen to have a crack house in an otherwise unblighted neighborhood (though I have avoided using the b word in all communications with government lest my words come back to haunt the neighborhood). The property owner has drug problems and allows dealing and prostitution from his property from time to time to support his habits. He has also allowed his house to fall into deep disrepair (the postal service ended up refusing to go up the front stairs anymore forcing the owner to put up a mailbox at street level).
While our work with the city has born some fruit, having one more tool like this would be a great help.
Posted by: joe shmoe at October 30, 2008 10:20 PM