FAQ about the Vacant Building Ordinance
Why is the City of El Paso enacting a Vacant Building Ordinance?
The City of El Paso adopted a Vacant Building Ordinance on Aug. 24, 2010 when it amended Title 18 (Building and Construction). The ordinance is an effective tool for addressing blighted properties, which are public nuisance and contribute to the detriment of neighborhoods, property values and quality of life. The ordinance requires that vacant buildings be maintained and secured to prevent them from falling into dilapidated, deteriorated, or hazardous conditions.
Why is this being done now? It seems from the agendas of the Building Standards Commission that the issue of vacant buildings is not a very big issue so why make an issue of this now?
State law recently changed to allow Texas cities to address this problem area differently than in the past. Vacant buildings have been addressed by other communities in similar way. The City of El Paso has modeled its ordinance based on successful examples from other communities within the limits set by state statute.
Will both commercial and residential properties be affected?
Yes. The ordinance affects both residential and commercial properties.
Is there a registration fee? What will that fee be?
All registration fees will be waived for the first year of the program. Fees may be put into effect at a later date to cover the administrative costs of the program.
Other cities have enacted these kinds of ordinances to address the foreclosure crisis. El Paso has not had the same kinds of issues with foreclosures so is this ordinance targeting a non-issue?
Foreclosures causing vacant buildings are not the only issue this ordinance addresses; with approximately 5,600 vacant buildings currently within the city limits, public safety remains the primary concern of the ordinance.
It seems that his ordinance is adding extra layers of burden on people having financial difficulties already. Is that not a concern for the city?
This is a legitimate concern. However, other issues such as public safety, blight, fire prevention and neighborhood stabilization weigh heavily against that.
Who prepares the plan for the building, and will there be a filing fee for submitting this plan?
The original plan is prepared by the owner/manager and feedback is provided by staff subsequent to inspections.
Will enforcement of this ordinance be obstructed by the inability to reach property owners?
No. In this scenario, a warrant (or writ of entry) may be obtained to inspect a building. A $2,000 per day fine against the owner for an unregistered vacant building has been approved. In cases of noncompliance, a criminal complaint will be filed with the city prosecutor.