OKC Officials Hope To Better Enforce Fines On Abandoned Homes

Tuesday, July 2nd 2013, 5:43 pm
By: Karl Torp

Oklahoma City thinks vacant property owners aren't paying their fair share.

City Leaders announced the findings of a new study on vacant housing to City Council members Tuesday. The study shows there are about 27,000 vacant housing units in OKC.

"It's an eye sore. It affects property values," said Putnam Heights neighbor Dane Libart, who lives across the street from a home with boards over its windows.

"A lot more illegal activity occurs in these buildings," said Russell Claus, Director of City Planning.

Claus said the extra police and firefighters, along with other services, needed at vacant properties each year amounts to $6.5 million a year.

Claus is now hoping to create a registry with all vacant structures in OKC. He says fines will be better enforced to better maintain the vacant properties.

The average property owner in OKC pays roughly $1500 in property taxes each year. The average vacant property owner pays only $112 annually.

"We are just saying you need to pay the fair cost," said Claus, who is trying to figure out how vacant property owner should pay more.

The City says it may pursue getting state lawmakers to make changes and allow for vacant property owners to pay more in taxes.