Dallas Plans New Approach to Vacant Buildings and Lots

City-wide vacant building and lot registration proposed

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Dallas is planning a new approach to vacant buildings and lots that discourage new development and are a nuisance to neighbors.

Part of the strategy is expanding a 2008 registration program for vacant Dallas buildings.

An example of the problem and opportunity is South Ewing Avenue in Dallas.

New homes have taken the place of old ones there.

The Sauceda brothers live on the street.

“The neighborhood is cleaning up and we're looking forward for a better neighborhood and it's coming up,” Jaime Sauceda said.

But there’s a vacant old church across the street from their homes.

Since the pastor died months ago, the neighbors said the church building has decayed.

“Empty buildings, those are bad because people get in there. Crime always happens,” Carlos Sauceda said.

Death makes it hard for the city to reach owners of some vacant buildings.

In the meantime, those structures produce additional cost to taxpayers for mowing and police.

In 2008, the city of Dallas launched a vacant building registration program aimed at renovating or replacing downtown Dallas structures.

The new plan calls for taking the registration program city-wide for vacant buildings and lots.

Dallas Code Enforcement Director Carl Simpson told Dallas City Council members Wednesday that better computer equipment is also planned to manage and track the condition of properties.

City officials will ask the City Council to approve the new program next month. They plan to give property owners warning before new fines are imposed this fall.

“We should be working with the property owner if they are making a good-faith effort at compliance,” Simpson said.

City Council member Chad West said he wants the rules to be clear and not subjective for code enforcement, but he supports the tougher approach for Dallas vacancy issues.

“Great presentation and I'm excited about the program, what I understand about it so far,” West said.

The Ewing Avenue neighbors are pleased about the potential for making their street even more desirable for new homes.

“A person moves in and starts fixing up their house, then other people take note and they start doing the same thing, putting up fences and cleaning up their yard and siding. So that’s a good thing when everybody mimics each other. And that’s what improves the neighborhood,” Carlos Sauceda said.

“I think it’s just going to be a better tomorrow for everybody," Jaime Sauceda said.

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