On July 27, Victor released an op-ed to The Republican and MassLive outlining his proposal for fighting blight within the City of Springfield. The text is included below.
Blight is a critical community issue in many ways. Blight is directly associated with social, economic, and environmental issues in the community. As the economy starts to turn downward, we tend to see an increase in abandoned and foreclosed properties—an open invitation to blight.
The causes of blight vary from city to city and even neighborhood to neighborhood, but many cities are dealing with blighted parcels as a result of some combination of “suburbanization,” population decline, job losses, foreclosures, and natural events that render structures or lots unusable. If left unchecked, blight will devour any neighborhood.
Here in our beloved city of Springfield, great gains have been made in addressing blight. Our code enforcement team does a great job in conjunction with the Police Department Ordinance Flex Squad in following up with vacant and blighted properties. All great gains, but I believe we can do more.
We can improve this fight by identifying at-risk properties before blight takes hold. I have personally seen four vacant and blighted properties in a relatively short distance from each other in a city neighborhood. We must be more proactive on this front.
Here is what we can do. We need a vacant property registry ordinance, aimed at requiring property owners to register vacant housing with plans to maintain the property. This will ensure a safe and livable neighborhood. This ordinance should include foreclosed properties and those in danger of becoming foreclosed.
We must also increase the amount charged in code enforcement fees when the city does maintenance on the property. Current city ordinance (Chap. 285, Sec. 5A) allows the city to recover fifty percent of the fair market value for the maintenance performed on a blighted property by the city. We must increase this amount to 100%. This area is currently lost revenue for the city and is not a deterrent to the owner that lets the property become blighted.
Lowering blight will bring economic and social stability in the neighborhood and is a strong catalyst to reducing crime. This would be one of my priorities if I am so fortunate to be elected to the Springfield City Council.
Springfield City Council-at-large Candidate