COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – For years the City of Columbus has struggled with areas of Blight after neglected properties sit and collect junk. Now the city is cracking down.

After countless neglected properties, the city announced new steps they plan to take at the July 26 city council meeting.

With a $450,000 dollar budget, the inspections and codes department looks to demolish nearly 45 structures this year. They say they will continue to take action, until those funds are spent.

Over 80 homes are currently on the inspections and codes department’s  radar. For the city, it’s more than the outward appearance of the homes.

“We are able to remove the health and safety hazards that those structures pose to our community, as well as mitigate any potential property values declines caused by those structures.”

Ryan Pruett – Director of Codes and Inspections, City of Columbus

Majority of the homes are in South Columbus but also across the entire city.

Pruett says, majority of cases the homes are vacant and abandoned. Sometimes the property owner isn’t even aware their name is on the title.

“A lot of the properties we see, we call them air properties, which means that they were owned by individuals that have passed on. The property now is technically owned by their descendants and either the descendants don’t know that they own it or don’t have any interest in the property”

Ryan Pruett – Director of Codes and Inspections, City of Columbus

It’s in the cities’ best interest and the homeowners to repair the home, so the city is willing to work with folks. The priority is the exterior, due to it being the most obvious and the effect it has on neighbors.

“We set some very specific goals of, you know, this part of the home needs to be repaired by a certain date. As long as they meet that timeline and those dates, then they can continue to work on the home.”

Ryan Pruett – Director of Codes and Inspections, City of Columbus

Majority of these homes are on the demolish for over a year before it even comes to council’s attention. Without routine updates, property owners face losing their homes.

“We have a lot of homes to demolish. So your home’s not going to be the first on the list, but we can’t stray from the standard because so many people have asked us for extensions and as far as I can remember, at least the last 12 months, we have not granted any time extensions. But if you show him progress, he (The city Code & Inspections Director) does work with people.”

Walker Garrett – District 8 Columbus City Council

The city has named 10 homes for demolition for the month of July.

Home demolition isn’t the only item on the city’s agenda. Along with abandoned homes, a lingering issue is the vehicles that sit on these properties.

The city plans to change the current ordinance by minimizing the number of vehicle violations before the city gets involved. Currently vehicle owners have to have two violations against them for their car to qualify as a junk vehicle.

With the new proposed ordinance, that definition will be re-written. Now violating just one of the conditions seen below, like out-of-date license tag, missing parts, flat tires, or vegetation growth, will qualify it as a junk vehicle.

This tightens the threshold and gives the city permission to take control.

“We’ve got specific police power measures here. These things endanger public safety and welfare. And you can take action. You’ve got the power to remove it. Now, there is still some due process where they have some time to come retrieve their vehicle. But if they don’t, then it can be sold, and the city manager has a part in that.”

Clifton Fay – Columbus Consolidated Government, City Attorney

The city says a written 30-day notice of removal will be placed on the vehicle. If no action is taken by the owner, it will then be impounded for an additional 30 days. After that, the city can take control, and cash-in on the car.

The city is encouraging residents with blighted properties in their neighborhood to call 3-1-1 and notify them. They’re happy to come out, take a look and give you an update on the property.