OKC leaders create fines for vacant and abandoned buildings

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Leaders in Oklahoma City pass a plan to crackdown on the number of vacant and abandoned buildings.

Those buildings often drag down property values and cost the city millions of dollars

Right now, there are more than 12,000 vacant homes and businesses in Oklahoma City.

The city will now create a registry of all those properties, and assess a fee of $285 the first year, and $190 each year after that.

Sue Jones, a property manager, said, "It's extremely disappointing they passed it."

Opponents like Sue fear the registry will punish short-term vacancies to the same degree as the city's worst properties and won't fix the real problem.

"This ordinance isn't going to help tear down dilapidated structures," said Jones.  "There's no funds to tear down the worst offenders."

For every property manager who spoke against the registry, just as many chimed in, in favor of the plan.

Bob Tener, Oklahoma City development services director, said, "It puts property owners on notice. We feel their property impacting the community and they need to try to occupy the property."

Long-term city leaders hope to increase taxes and fines for vacant properties but that would need to pass through the statehouse.

In the meantime, every council member voted in favor of the new registry.

James Greiner, an Oklahoma City councilman, said, "This creates a disincentive.  It doesn't fix the problem, but it is a first step to fix the problem."

According to the city, homes will be considered vacant if they don't have water or power for 60 days.

Although there will be an exception for homes that are being sold.

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