Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cole: Make blight redevelopment easier

Laketa Cole, Cincinnati City Council president pro tem and chair of the Finance Committee, has introduced a motion that would make redevelopment of blighted properties easier by lowering inspection fees.

As envisioned, the fast-track program would be available to any property owner who buys a house out of foreclosure.

"Given declining revenues in the city, it is in our best interest to ensure that foreclosed and abandoned houses are redeveloped immediately," Cole said in a statement accompanying the motion.

Cole said that one key problem in redevelopment is the lag in inspection times, and she believes that a reduction in fees could incentivize construction.

"In fact, a 75 percent to 90 percent reduction in fees may be able to be covered by various NSP or CDBG funds," she said. "The reduced costs and increased responsiveness may also lower the barriers perceived by redevelopers providing the City Inspectors with a greater level of compliance."

Because the City's inspection department, Inspection Bureau, Inc. (IBI), is not City-operated, Cole said that the program would require their complete cooperation.

"If IBI is unwilling to partner on this effort, a cost-benefit review should be in order to either bring the inspection responsibilities in house, or offer the contract up for public bid, as this has been an un-bid contract for far too long," she said.

Cole has asked for a report on the feasibility of the program before council's summer break, and the motion is currently in committee.