Friday, December 31, 2010

WSB-TV Story of Fire on Oliver St Hightlights need to change Atlanta demolition permit procedures

I watched this story regarding a bank owned house fire in Vine City on WSB-TV this morning with great interest:

The sheer number of such houses - vacant, unoccupied, in disrepair is staggering. I have witnessed this cycle - and to be brief it goes like this:

Bank ends up with house from foreclosure or Investor purchased 'investment' house years ago with the aim of obtaining rent/appreciation.
Over years, market for qualified renters becomes slim.
Investor/bank deals with thefts of copper, air conditioning and heat units, wiring, etc.
Now house definatly not rentable and investor/banker required to board up house.
Boarded up house gets broken into over and over by vagrants. Drug use, prostitution, illegal residency (no power and water services, mind you) and house becomes completely trashed.
Investor/banker calls my company to obtain demolition permit to erase this potential liability prone structure from the lot.
Demolition permit denied by the city of Atlanta.
House continued to be occupied by vagrants.
House burns down.

Why does the city deny these permits? Please look at link- which is a portion of the demolition application.

 The city will grant a permit if you provide either:

1.) A site plan stating you will build back a structure

2.) A letter from code enforcement stating the structure is 51% or more deteriorated.

I have seen these houses over and over again be rejected for the letter from code enforcement. It forces the investor to signature verify that he/she will build back a property in its place (just to have the mechanicals stolen again?) and that the razing of the structure will not cause "open space".
From my understading, this Dept. of Planning procedure is in effect, trying to deter demolition of real property due to the loss of the tax on the real property (which of course is more than the tax on a vacant parcel).

The danger to public health is so high with this procedure. The big picture is being missed here - and responsible investors/owners/bankers are at a loss as to how to proceed.