Making cities prettier, or not.

SB 338 revises provisions of law pertaining to the authority of cities and nonprofit organizations to petition the district court to possess abandoned property temporarily for rehabilitation purposes.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to see neglected areas of your city looking prettier? Apparently my opponent — he voted against this bill. His reasoning for voting against the bill is because he “thought this bill gives cities too much power to take property without notifying and contacting the property owner or paying fair market value.”

Huh. After reading the bill’s summary, I see nothing but hoops that city government and the nonprofit must jump through in order to take possession of an abandoned property – to rehab and use it temporarily, not own it.

A city’s governing body, following the service of process requirements in existing law, may file a petition for temporary possession if the city has identified a nonprofit organization to rehabilitate the property for housing or related residential purposes and the governing body of the city has formally approved the filing of the petition. The nonprofit organization is required to have existed for at least three years and could take temporary possession of the property for related residential purposes such as infrastructure, parks, and parking facilities. Under previous law, a nonprofit organization could take temporary possession of abandoned property for the exclusive purpose of rehabilitating housing.

The petition filed by the city must contain the history of any municipal utility service for at least the preceding 365 days, the history of property tax payments for the preceding three years, the history of code violations for the preceding two years and efforts by the city to remedy the code violations, the history of attempts to notify the last known owner and any enforcement action, and the history of actions taken by other governmental entities regarding the property.

The bill also allows a court to extend the time a defendant to such a petition has to come into compliance with all applicable codes and prohibits the striking of any affirmative defense to the petition solely on the basis of delinquent property taxes.

Also, the definition of abandoned property is clearly defined.

“Abandoned property” includes an alternative definition to the one currently in law for residential real estate: property that has been unoccupied continuously for 365 days and has a blighting influence on surrounding properties. So long as the property’s exterior is maintained, residential real estate is the subject of a probate action, a mortgage, an action to quiet title, or other ownership dispute, the residential real property will not be defined as abandoned property. The other residential definition for abandoned property, which the bill retains, means property with property taxes that have been delinquent for 2 years and that has been unoccupied for 90 days.

This is another example of my opponent taking away local control and not trusting our locally elected leaders to know what is best for the district. Thankfully this bill passed.