Using Vacant Property Registration Fee Ordinances to Fix Blight
"Foreclosure" has become more common in planning conversations since the Great Recession. Two ways that planners tend to get involved is with assisting residents facing the threat of foreclosure, and addressing various community impacts, such as blight, vacancy, and property disinvestment.
Tools for addressing the community impacts of foreclosure include housing counseling services, digital property mapping (like Detroit's), and vacant property registration fees.
Nationwide, there are over 1,500 communities enforcing vacant property registration fee ordinances, but the efficacy of these ordinances is mixed. Many smaller municipalities struggle to allocate adequate staff time to maintain property databases, resulting in spotty fee collection. On the other hand, communities that have been diligent with collecting fees find that the most negligent property owners skirt fees and penalties.
The Maine Association of Planners looks at the success of vacant property fees in Maine municipalities.