Abandoned eyesore in your area? DBI can help

It seems like there’s one in every neighborhood: the rundown home that’s suffered from years of neglect, resulting in an eyesore that needs everything from a new coat of paint to new windows to new front steps. Sometimes the home is owned by an elderly person or someone on a fixed income who unfortunately doesn’t have the financial wherewithal to keep up with maintenance needs. And in San Francisco, the weather can do quite a number on a house once the paint starts peeling.

Other times the home is simply abandoned, sitting empty and becoming more of an eyesore with the changing seasons. Late in 2009, the Department of Building Inspection implemented a new requirement for abandoned buildings: they must be registered with DBI and secured against unauthorized entry, and the owners must provide proof of insurance.

The owners must also pay an annual registration fee of $765. And based on a notice I saw tacked to a vacant building in my neighborhood, if the owner doesn’t register the building and pay the fee within 30 days of receiving notice to do so, the owner is then on the hook for a fine of $765 x 9 = $6,885.

Yowzers. Even if $765 sounds like a lot to register, $6,885 sounds like a whole lot more when you don’t do it quickly.

This particular building was vacant for months if not years, the front steps were littered with garbage, and some homeless people had set up camp on the landing at the top of the stairs. There’s now a security gate in place, the garbage has been cleaned up, and I hope the homeless people have gotten some assistance, too.

If your neighborhood is home to a blighted building, you can report it to dbi@codeenforcement@sfgov.org. You can also look up your local police station and email them, too, if there is criminal activity happening at the home.

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