SAN DIEGO -
Abandoned properties are seen in just about every neighborhood across the city of San Diego, but a new law aims to take care of the problem.
"When citizens come forward with complaints about blighted homes in their neighborhoods, we can now do something about them," said San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria.
Gloria has been working on the expanded abandoned properties ordinance for the last three years, and this week, the City Council finally passed it.
"These kinds of abandoned properties really attract a negative element in the community. They attract crime, homelessness and other issues that impact neighbors," Gloria told 10News.
Before the new ordinance, the city could only force owners of boarded-up homes to bring their properties into compliance with the city code.
Now, the city can also go after buildings like the old Pernicano's restaurant in Hillcrest, which has been abandoned for years and is considered an unattractive sight with its broken signage and trash stuck in parts of the building.
"When I was walking here earlier, I saw a couple of kids just hanging out here and asking for money, so that would probably help deter that," said San Diegan Ana Casillas.
The ordinance isn't just about abandoned buildings, as it also covers vacant lots.
When a problem property is identified, the city will send a letter to the owner, including banks, telling them what needs to be done to bring the property into compliance. The property owner must then file a statement of intent on how they're going to fix the problem. If they don't, within 90 days, the city can fine them up to $5,000, and in some extreme situations, cases can be referred to the city attorney for further action.
Gloria said the law is a win for everyone, and added, "Ultimately, when these property owners bring their real estate into compliance, everyone is going to benefit."