06-018-O                                 REPLACEMENT 2; AS AMENDED


ORDINANCE NO. __________



The city of Duluth does ordain:

     Section 1. That Section 10-3 of the Duluth City Code, 1959, as amended, be amended by adding a new Section 10-3(d) to read as follows:

     (d)  In addition to other provisions of the Code, this Section 10-3(d) is enacted;

           (1)  Policy. Pursuant to authority provided in Minnesota Statutes, Section 463.26, permitting cities to enact and enforce ordinances on hazardous buildings, and in order to enhance the livability and preserve the tax base and property values of buildings within the city, and based upon the findings contained in Section (2); and because of the need to assure that buildings which are capable of rehabilitation are promptly rehabilitated and buildings which are not capable of rehabilitation be promptly demolished, the city hereby declared that it is the policy of the city to promote rehabilitation of vacant and unoccupied buildings, and to assure a prompt process for demolition of hazardous buildings through a procedure fixing appropriate responsibility in accordance with due process requirements;

           (2)  Findings. The city council finds, determines and declares that buildings which remain vacant and unoccupied for any appreciable period of time become an attractive nuisance to children, a harborage for rodents, and invitation to derelicts, vagrants and criminals as a temporary abode, and an increased fire hazard, and that the unkempt grounds surrounding such property invite the dumping of garbage and rubbish thereon; that such buildings are permitted to become dilapidated since such buildings are often economically obsolete and the owners of such buildings are unwilling to expend the necessary funds to repair or raze the buildings; that such buildings contribute to the growth of blight within the city, depress market values of surrounding properties to the detriment of the various taxing districts and require additional governmental services; that the use and maintenance of property in such condition and manner endangers the public safety and health, constitutes an unreasonable use and condition to the annoyance, discomfort and repose of a considerable number of the public, is detrimental to the public good and to the common welfare; and renders a considerable number of the public insecure in the use and enjoyment of their property, and thus may constitute a nuisance condition. Adequate protection of public health, safety and welfare, therefore, requires the establishment and enforcement of the means by which such nuisance conditions may be abated;

           (3)  Securing vacant buildings;

                 (A)  In general, if any building becomes vacant or unoccupied and is deemed hazardous due to the fact that the building is open to trespass and has not been secured and the building could be made safe by securing the building, the building official may order the building secured and shall cause notice of the order to be served upon the owner of the premises. Such notice may be served personally or by mail. Service by mail is complete upon mailing a copy of the order to the owner at the last known address. If the owner fails to comply with the order within six days after the order is served, the building official shall cause the building to be boarded up or otherwise properly secured;

                 (B)  Emergency. When it is determined by the building official or the chief of police, or the fire chief that an emergency exists with respect to the health or safety of persons in the community, and immediate boarding and securing of a building is required, and where danger will exist to children, transients or others in the absence of an immediate boarding or securing of the building, the building official or the chief of police, or the fire chief may waive all requirements herein and immediately board or otherwise secure the building, provided that:

                       1.   The conditions showing the existence of an exigency are documented in writing by the building official or the chief of police or the fire chief or their designees;

                       2.   Notice be mailed immediately by the department invoking this Section to the address of the owner and taxpayer, and, if recorded on the assessor’s rolls, the address of the mortgage holder, of the date of boarding or otherwise securing and the reasons therefore;

                 (C)  After a vacant or unoccupied building has been boarded or otherwise secured under this section, should the owner fail to maintain the building in a secured condition until such time as it has been repaired and reoccupied, the building official shall resecure any openings into the building whenever it again becomes open to trespass, without further notice to the owner. An administrative fee shall be set in accordance with Section 31-6(a) of this Code and all other costs incurred by the city for boarding or otherwise securing a building under this Chapter, including, but not limited to the actual costs for boarding, posting and monitoring the building, building and housing code compliance inspections, police or fire department inspection, response, or protection; public health and safety investigation; control of people or property wrongfully on the premises shall be assessed as provided in Duluth City Code Section 10-3. The above fees, when collected, shall be dedicated to the use of the department(s) that administer(s) the enforcement actions. Owner, for the purposes of this Section, shall mean the person who is listed as the contact person on the current rental licensing application on file with the city, if any; or, if none, the person listed as owner by the city assessor on the homestead record; or, if none, the taxpayer as shown by the records of the city assessor. Owner shall not include a community development agency organized pursuant to the Laws of Minnesota 1980 Chapter 595;

           (4)  Vacant building registration;

                 (A)  The owner of a residential building or building located in a residentially zoned area shall register the building with the building official within 30 days after it becomes a vacant building. In this Section, a vacant building is at least one that is of the following:

                       1.   Condemned;

                       2.   Unoccupied and unsecured for five 30 days or more;

                       3.   Unoccupied and secured by means other than those normally used in the design of the building for 30 days or more;

                       4.   Unoccupied and has multiple housing maintenance, fire or building code violations existing for 30 days or more;

                 (B)  The registration shall be submitted on forms provided by the building official and shall include the following information supplied by the owner:

                       1.   A description of the premises;

                       2.   The names and addresses of the owner or owners;

                       3.   The names and addresses of all known lien holders and all other parties with an ownership interest in the building;

                       4.   The period of time the building is expected to remain vacant; and a plan and timetable for returning the building to appropriate occupancy or for demolition of the building;

                 (C)  The owner shall submit a plan and timetable that must comply with the guidelines adopted by the building official. The guidelines are adopted for purposes of preventing nuisance conditions and maintaining compliance with this Code. These guidelines shall be made available to building owners. The plan shall be submitted at the time of registration, or within a reasonable period of time thereafter to be determined by the building official;

                 (D)  The owner shall comply with all applicable laws and codes. The owner shall notify the building official of any changes in information supplied as part of the vacant building registration within 30 days of the change. If the plan or timetable for the vacant building is revised in any way, the revisions must meet the approval of the building official;

                 (E)  The owner and the subsequent owners shall keep the building secured and safe and the building and grounds properly maintained until the rehabilitation or demolition has been completed;

                 (F)  Failure of the owner or any subsequent owner to maintain the building and premises that result in abatement completed by the city shall be grounds for revocation of the approved plan and shall be subject to any applicable penalties provided by law;

                 (G)  The new owner(s) shall register or re-register the vacant building with the building official within 30 days of any transfer of an ownership interest in a vacant building. The new owner(s) shall comply with the approved plan and timetable submitted by the previous owner until any proposed changes are submitted and meet the approval of the building official;

                 (H)  The building official shall include in the file any property-specific written statements from community organizations, other interested parties or citizens regarding the history, problems, status or blighting influence of a vacant building;

                 (I)  Vacant building fees:

                       1.   The owner of a vacant building shall pay an annual fee, which shall be set in accordance with Section 31-6(a) of this Code. The fee is imposed to defray the administrative costs for registering and processing the vacant building registration form and for the costs of the city in monitoring the vacant building site;

                       2.   The first annual fee shall be paid no later than 30 days after the building becomes vacant. Subsequent annual fees shall be due on the anniversary date of initial vacancy. The fees shall be paid in full prior to the issuance of any building permits, with the exception of a demolition permit;

                       3.   Unpaid fees shall be levied and collected as a special assessment against the property as provided for under Section 10-3, with interest at the rate of eight percent per annum on the unpaid balance thereof. Upon transfer of ownership, the new owner(s) shall be responsible for all unpaid and subsequent annual fees;

                 (J)  A building owner shall provide access to all interior portions of an unoccupied building in order to permit a complete inspection for the purpose of enforcing and assuring compliance with the provisions of this Chapter.

     Section 2. That this ordinance shall take effect 30 days after its passage and publication.

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE:  This ordinance creates standards and procedures for removing blight and sets various fees.