Berkeley, CA, amends vacant property ordinance with expansion of unlawful nuisance definitions

Berkeley, CA: The second reading has passed for an amendment of the vacant property ordinance, to establish residential properties vacant for more than 120 days as an unlawful nuisance.


The expansion of the City’s blight ordinance requires property be kept clean and painted, free from overgrowth, structurally sound, and properly secured, or it can trigger violations, fines, and City action.


Per the ordinance, “any property owner ordered by the City to abate a property nuisance pursuant to this chapter on two or more separate occasions within a one year period, shall be liable to the City for a civil penalty of five hundred dollars for each separate order to abate beginning with the second such order within a one year period,” and the “City shall have the power to abate such nuisance without further notice, including the power to condemn and destroy any property constituting the nuisance if the nuisance cannot be abated without destruction of such property. Said abatement may be pursued by City personnel or private contractor. The costs of abatement, including administrative and incidental expenses, shall be billed to the owner and shall be due and payable within thirty days thereafter.”


Notice of abatements will be posted at the property, as well as a copy mailed to the person and address on files and registered with the City, and the owner of the property will have a minimum of 7 days and a maximum of 60 days with which to begin to remedy the issues, except where there is an immediate threat to public health or safety. The owner must commence the corrective action requested in the notice within 30 days of the date of the notice.


The City Manager may grant an extension of the 120 day period of vacancy to one year for properties inherited or under probate, and the City may waive the time limit to remedy a blighted building in cases where an event such as such as fire, flood, or earthquake interferes with the owner’s ability to complete the corrective action within the specified time.


The ordinance amendments would go into effect at the end of August 2018.




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