There are too many blighted neighborhoods in our city, breeding grounds for crime and drug use. We need to facilitate private development of these areas by making it easier for those wishing to build, renovate, or invest in the inner city to get loans.
That’s why I was pleased to sponsor an item approving a $12 million investment in the inner city, including about $7 million in stimulus funds, which converted 140 vacant, weed-filled lots into 125 new affordable energy-efficient rental homes as part of the county’s “homestead” program. That’s also why I am working with the County Real Estate and County Trustee offices to revamp our procedures make it easier for smaller developers to get title insurance, a crucial prerequisite for participation in the homestead program. This effort is leading both to reformed internal procedures, more aggressive advertising of the homestead program, and proposed legislation. We need to make it easier, not harder, for private developers to take these tax delinquent lots in the inner city and turn them into new homes.
Inner-city revitalization also means doing all we can to clean up these vacant lots. That’s why I was proud to sponsor a new county ordinance cracking down on the illegal dumping of tires, a problem which has reached epidemic levels in the inner city in recent years. The ordinance would use the “stick” of requiring tire dealers and haulers to register, keep track of where used tires are going in records we can check, destroy tires which can’t be safely reused, and pay tire haulers only after they’ve produced proof that they have indeed taken them to the county recycling center (instead of dumping them in lots in the middle of the night). Violations will trigger a fine of $50 per tire. The ordinance also uses the “carrot” of a Tire Redemption Program, in which citizens who pick up tires and turn them into the recycling center will get a bounty of one dollar per tire.