Oklahoma City has a new tool in its struggle to rid the city of dilapidated buildings that can ruin property values.
It's a new ordinance that cracks down on people who abandoned their houses and other structures.
“Our ordinance today allows for an escalating level of fines,” says OKC Asst. City Manager Laura Johnson.
Maintenance fines can reach $500, but property owners can also be charged if a fire starts or police are called.
“$73 dollars per firefighter for every house that they are there,” says Johnson.
The city has 12,000 abandoned structures right now.
One of the city's worst abandoned properties is the old Lantana Apartment complex at NW 10th St. and Greenvale Rd. The abandoned structures sit directly across from an elementary school, and have been set on fire several times.
The city says Lantana Apartment's owners, who live in California, owe more than $50,000 in back fines. However, the city can't acquire the property without having a clear purpose on what would go up in its place.
The city says each fire at Lantana has scared away potential investors.
You may remember the city passed an ordinance to have an abandoned structure registry. Property owners were going to be forced to pay a fee. However, state lawmakers disagreed with the idea and got rid of the law.