State Policy and Problem Property Regulation
This report examines how state laws affect municipalities’ ability to regulate problem properties in order to further the public welfare, safety and health within their borders. It goes beyond simply looking at those laws, but asks the question: what should the provisions of state law in this realm be? In other words, what powers are most appropriately wielded by local government as they seek to tackle the challenges of problem properties, and what should be proscribed? The purpose of code enforcement and other property regulations is not to issue citations or collect fines, but to improve the community’s quality of life by improving housing and neighborhood conditions. Since those conditions are the product of social and economic forces, political dynamics and ongoing practices of racial discrimination, property regulations disproportionately affect the housing and neighborhoods of lower income people and communities of color, raising issues of social, economic and racial justice and equity. During the course of this paper, the author will try to highlight key points where these issues interconnect with and are affected by specific approaches to problem property regulation.