Posted: Nov 19, 2012 9:48 PM by Mike Manzoni -- email@example.com
Updated: Nov 20, 2012 7:05 PM
ALICE -- Officials have swept through the city offering owners of dilapidated houses two options: let us tear it down or rack up fines.
The initiative, called Project Phoenix: Rising From The Ashes, started in April 2011 and since then the city has torn down about 25 houses that have long been nothing but eyesores to residents.
"It's aesthetically pleasing," said City Manager Rey De Los Santos. "You're providing additional housing."
The city will demolish any house or building in disrepair using city equipment and work crews. There is no charge up front, but the city puts a $1,500 dollar lien on the property so that if the owner decides to rebuild the city will be able to collect its money.
Dilapidated houses, De Los Santos said, are not just eyesores, but also attract copper thieves and juvenile crime. "Anytime you have an abandoned building structure - if you have a neighborhood that's not well lit - it's an attraction for crime."
There is no separate budget for the project. The city pays its employees from its overtime budget, Community Development Director Yolanda Bueno said.
But getting rid of abandoned or dilapidated houses has another benefit, De Los Santos said. The more dilapidated houses that are torn down, the more housing opportunities there are for residents. For example, a multi-family house near the city's middle school is almost finished. Months ago, a dilapidated house sat on the same lot of land. It is, De Los Santos said, the ultimate goal of the initiative.
Property owners who decide not to go through with demolishing their house can be subject to fines in the thousands of dollars.
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