For years, fires at abandoned buildings have been a drain on taxpayer dollars. Now, the city is making property owners pay up, but they have to start from scratch.
Code enforcement thinks charging property owners for police and firefighting calls will urge them to clean things up. Putting out the fire could cost the property owner more than $60 per firefighter per hour.
State law says the city can only charge property owners in the case of a fire or police call, if the property is first deemed abandoned.
“The criteria has really changed for this list,” said OKC Code Enforcement's Charles Locke.
So the city is starting from scratch to identify abandoned homes and put them on a list.
Years ago, it compiled a list that included more than 12,000 abandoned properties. The new current list only includes 22 abandoned properties at the moment.
Inspectors not only have to compete in person evaluations of each property, but the addresses also have to be approved by OKC's City Council before being added to the list.
At this rate, it could take more than a decade to compile an abandoned list like the one it put together years ago.
The city says there is no easy way of adding properties to the list. It also does know how much money in man hours it will cost the city to do all the inspections.
“We have to use the tools we are given,” says Locke.