America the Messy Yard Police State
Mesa wants to use messy yard laws to seize burned buildings!Mesa wants to use messy yard laws to seize burned buildings!
Mesa councilmen target burned-out buildings
Garin Groff, Tribune
December 24, 2009 - 2:14PM
Thomas Boggan, Tribune
Since the day in April 2007 when fire ravaged a Dairy Queen on Main Street in Mesa, the site has been notable for what has occurred there: nothing.
The closest thing to an improvement was plywood to board up windows and a chain-link fence to secure the white, block, roofless building.
Other burned-out businesses and homes have sat untouched across Mesa for years because the owners don't have the money or interest to tear them down. And the city lacks the authority to do anything in many cases.
Two councilmen are working to give Mesa the power to bulldoze buildings that have been seriously damaged by fire. Councilman Alex Finter said owners of burned-out buildings must rehabilitate them within a deadline.
"I don't know what it is," Finter said. "I know what it isn't, and it isn't three years and it isn't two years. And maybe it's not even a year."
The city's building safety code addresses buildings that are hazardous, but Finter said many burned-out buildings are considered safe by the city's rules. The buildings often are a blight on the community, Finter said, adding they become magnets for drug use, crime, trash and graffiti.
"It isn't fair to the neighbors and the others who are trying to maintain their neighborhoods and their home values," Finter said.
He and Councilman Scott Somers said the burned-out buildings are unsafe despite the city's regulations that allow them to stand.
"They're structurally unsound," Somers said. "It's not going to be anything you're going to be rehabilitating any time soon."
The buildings are hazards to firefighters because they often attract transients who light fires to stay warm, the councilmen said. Somers is a firefighter and Finter is a retired firefighter.
The elected officials expect to hear a city staff report on new regulations in January. The councilmen say they will not target buildings that are merely vacant eyesores, like the Fiesta Village shopping center at Alma School Road and Southern Avenue. Finter said he's sensitive to property rights and would only target buildings so damaged that they are a safety hazard.
"Whatever we do would have to have some really strict guidelines," Finter said.
Contact writer: (480) 898-6548 or firstname.lastname@example.org