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Dayton Identifies Problematic Properties, Moves to Take Action

The City of Dayton conducted the first reading of an ordinance amending sections of its code of ordinances to more aggressively target abandoned and neglected properties blighting the city, through civil penalties during its regular council meeting Tuesday evening. The ordinance will require a second reading and vote before being installed as law. 

Currently, Dayton's Code Enforcement Official Cassie Patterson issues a notice of violation to a property that isn't adhering to the city's code, then returns and issues another notice one week later if the issue isn't resolved. After another week, she is able to issue a citation on the property. 

"We give a lot of warnings," Councilwoman Jessica Lovins said during the meeting.

"We do," Patterson replied. 

Patterson said that it is a cumbersome process in regards to code enforcement that requires her to drive around and check on properties five or six times before being able to take action against it. Moreover, she said it creates an overwhelming backlog of cases that often take months to resolve. 

Under the new ordinance, Patterson will be able to issue a notice of violation with a 10-day timeframe to contact Dayton's Code Enforcement and resolve the issue. Property owners will then be charged $100 per day after the period that the issue continues to exist. 

Patterson told council that owners will only receive fines if they ignore the initial notice for longer than 10-days. 

"99 percent of people do contact us," Patterson explained. "They tell us they have a hardship, or have had an injury, or illness was a big one last year."

Patterson said that she is willing to work with homeowners as long as they reach out to her once they receive the first violation. She offered the example of getting a violation for an unpainted house in the middle of winter and said that she doesn't expect people to be out painting in the snow, but she did expect them to contact her.

"A lot of people don't realize it's a process," Patterson continued. "This will speed up that process." 

The move comes on the heels of Jay Fossett, Dayton's city administrator, initiating a program to identify and target the ten biggest property blights in the city. During Tuesday's meeting, Fossett announced that after noticing the progress made on the first ten properties, he had begun working on the next ten. 

Patterson and Fossett seemed to believe that the amendments mentioned earlier would expedite the process. 

"I'd love to show how this is changing the face and the image of Dayton and making it stronger," Fossett said. 

Fossett also explained that this was all designed to target negligent landlords, abandoned, and vacant properties and even said he was working to create a no-interest or low-interest loan program within the city to help low-income homeowners in Dayton that may be affected by this amendment - emphasizing that assistance recipients must be low-income and own their home. Unpaid loan dollars would be applied to the properties as liens, which would then be paid should the deed be sold or transferred, allowing the loan program to continue.

Copies of the first ten properties, their status, and the next ten to attract the city's focus:

 

-Connor Wall, associate editor