In Richmond, city officials and community activists are looking for ways to deal with the city’s continuing foreclosure and blight crisis. Last Friday afternoon, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment rented a bus to tour Richmond's neighborhoods hit hardest by blight.
On South 6th Street in Richmond, contractor Oscar Hoyos was boarding up a vacant house that was taken over by squatters.
"It was nasty," Hoyos said. "This house is messed bad. Especially the bathroom. Wow. We gotta use masks."
Bank of America owns the house and was given two weeks to clean it up.
The city’s code enforcement manager Tim Higares says according to a recent survey, there are 463 vacant, blighted properties across the city.
"If I was able to go out with my staff, and board and secure every single property here in Richmond, and make it look just like that property boarded there, what do we have? Blight. We have a bunch of boarded properties in the city of Richmond. So we really do need to figure out what the next step is, because that’s not it."
Higeras is working with the City Attorney's office to draft an ordinance that would require property owners to register vacant properties with the city.
At its meeting on Tuesday, July 17, the City Council will discuss whether to seek liens against about 200 vacant and blighted properties. Combined, those property owners owe the city more than $650,000 in unpaid fees and fines.