[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the City of Española 1-24-2012 by Ord. No. 2012-04. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The City Council determines that the presence of vacant and abandoned structures within commercial zones creates blight. It is recognized that blight lowers property values, leads to deteriorating conditions, undermines the quality of life, affects the public health, safety and general welfare and also results in human injury and criminal activities. It is also determined that vacant and unoccupied structures within commercial zones demand an inordinate amount of City administrative and ordinance enforcement resources. As such, the City Council finds the prolonged presence of vacant and abandoned structures within commercial zones to be unacceptable to the citizens of Española.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ABANDONED STRUCTURE
- Includes an abandoned commercial, office, or industrial structure within the B-1, B-2, HI, LI, R-O-I, or historical zones as defined herein.
- (1) Any single-tenant building located in a B-1, B-2, B-3, HI, LI, R-O-I or historic zoned district which has been unoccupied by a tenant for a period of 90 consecutive days or which satisfies one of the supplementary conditions in Subsection C below; or
- (2) Any multitenant building located in a B-1, B-2, B-3, HI, LI, R-O-I or historic zoned district which is more than 50% unoccupied for a period of 90 consecutive days or which satisfies one of the supplementary conditions in Subsection C below.
- (1) Any single-tenant building located in an HI or LI zoned district which has been unoccupied by a tenant for a period of 90 consecutive days or which satisfies one of the supplementary conditions in Subsection C below; or
- (2) Any multitenant building located in an HI or LI zoned district which is more than 50% unoccupied for a period of 90 consecutive days or which satisfies one of the supplementary conditions in Subsection C below.
- C. Supplementary conditions:
- (1) Is open to casual entry or trespass;
- (2) Is damaged by fire, flood, weather, or vandalism to an extent which prohibits safe human occupancy;
- (3) Is the site of loitering or vagrancy;
- (4) Demonstrates a lack of property maintenance and upkeep as evidenced by one or more violations of Chapter 254, Nuisances, of the City of Española Code;
- (5) Is under notice for being in violation of City ordinances;
- (6) Has been secured or boarded up for at least 60 days;
- (7) Has property taxes in arrears to the City or county for a period of time exceeding 365 days;
- (8) Has utilities disconnected or not in use;
- (9) Is under a condemnation notice or legal order to vacate;
- (10) Is structurally unsound; or
- (11) Is a potential hazard or danger to persons.
- ACCESSORY BUILDING
- A subordinate structure on the same premises as the main structure, the use of which would be naturally and normally incidental to that of the main structure, whether the main structure is an abandoned structure or not, such as, but not limited to, a garage, barn or storage shed.
- Any person with a legal or equitable ownership interest in the structure.
Owners of abandoned structures shall register such properties with the City and pay a monthly administration fee of not less than $35 per month. The duty to register an abandoned structure shall not require prior notice to the owner by the City. Registration of an abandoned structure does not preclude the City from taking appropriate actions to secure the property or to issue orders to repair or abate dangerous, hazardous or unlawful conditions or from acting to eliminate an imminent hazard to public health and safety. The monthly administrative fee shall be in effect for the time during which such structure remains an abandoned structure.
Fees under this section shall be established to support the services rendered by the City in the course of its duties related to abandoned structures. Failure to register an abandoned structure or pay the monthly registration fee shall be cause for penalties to be assessed and are criminal violations of this chapter.
The monthly registration fee shall be paid so that it is received by the City on or before the seventh day of each month, following each month during which the structure was an abandoned structure for 15 days or more.
A late fee, in an amount equal to 50% of the registration fee shall also be payable by an owner of an abandoned structure when the monthly administrative fee is not paid by the due date.
For each abandoned structure, each owner shall register with the City and provide the following information on an abandoned structure registration form available from the City:
The address of the abandoned structure;
The legal names of all owners of the property and each owner's date of birth, if applicable;
The complete mailing address of all owners;
Telephone numbers of each owner, including cell phone and mobile phone numbers;
Proof of identification of each owner;
The name, address and telephone number of any local agent or representative authorized by the owner to handle the affairs of the property;
The reason for vacancy of the property;
The estimated length of time the property is expected to remain vacant; and
Any plans for restoration, reuse or removal, with an accompanying timeline and work schedule.
An owner shall notify the City and file an amended form within seven days of any change in the registration information required by this section.
If all or part of the fees required by this chapter are not paid or are overdue, the City may recover such sums by filing suit against the owner for entry of civil money judgment or any other means available by law. The City shall be entitled to all attorney fees and costs incurred in obtaining a warrant or to obtain a judgment against an owner for any overdue or unpaid fee associated with any abandoned structure.
Unless otherwise specified by the Planning Department/Code Enforcement Officer, a City order to secure an abandoned structure shall be complied with by the owner within 15 days. If the securing has not been completed or does not comply with the requirements for securing the structure under this chapter, the City may secure the structure and bill the owner of record for all costs incurred, including service fee and administrative costs. The amount so billed shall constitute a personal debt of the owner and may be recovered in the same manner as permitted by law for the recovery of fees.
All points of entry on an abandoned structure that are suitable for animal or human entry shall be secured as follows:
Unless otherwise specified by the Planning Department/Code Enforcement Officer, on all first-story and ground-accessible points of entry, such shall be secured by use of exterior-grade plywood or its equivalent, of at least one-half-inch thickness, cut to the size of the opening and secured by the use of Phillips-headed two-inch-long screws; and
Unless otherwise specified by the Planning Department/Code Enforcement Officer, on entry points being secured above the first story or which are not accessible from ground level, such shall be secured by use of exterior-grade plywood or its equivalent of at least one-half-inch thickness, cut to the size of the opening and secured by the use of sixteen-penny common nails or equivalent.
If the owner has failed to secure a property the City may, after obtaining a warrant, enter to secure the structure or reenter the structure to conduct necessary inspections to ensure compliance with the requirements of this chapter and to determine if there are any emergency or hazardous conditions.
No abandoned structure shall be reoccupied until it has been inspected and found to be in full compliance with all applicable City and state codes and a final certificate of occupancy is issued by the City; all fees are paid in full; and all other conditions set forth in this chapter are satisfied.
All nuisance, housing, building and related code violations will be cited and noticed to the owner of record and shall become the owner's responsibility. The owner of any abandoned structure shall be obligated to provide written notice to any prospective purchaser of an abandoned structure of any violations, fees, or obligations imposed by the City regarding that abandoned structure. Failure by an owner to comply with this section shall constitute a violation of this chapter. If the owner sells or otherwise disposes of the property to another party, the new owner shall not be entitled to any extension of time to correct or address such violations as existed at the time of sale, transfer or conveyance of the property.
A person who violates or fails to comply with the requirements of this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned not more than 90 days, or both, for each offense.
Each day that an owner of an abandoned or vacant structure fails to comply with the requirements of this chapter shall constitute a separate offense.
In addition to any other penalty provided for in this section, this chapter may be enforced by suit for injunction, action for damages, or any equitable relief appropriate to the enforcement of this chapter.
A property owner may have the ability to waive the monthly registration fee provided that a facade be created either through paints and/or construction materials to reflect a common theme within the City of Española to be approved by the Planning Department.