Baltimore City Council Considering Fees for Vacant Property Owners Who Receive 311 Requests
February 7, 2023
Baltimore City Council is considering establishing fees for vacant property owners who receive 311 requests against their properties.
The ordinance would create a fee structure with increasing fines as more and more substantiated 311 service requests stack up. Councilwoman Odette Ramos wants to create a $1,000 fine. She says this would push more vacant properties over the threshold to qualify for in rem foreclosure, a legal process where the city can foreclose faster on properties where liens exceed the assessed value.
“If it’s a vacant building and it’s got high grass or if it’s a vacant building and it’s got the roof collapse or if it’s a vacant building and there’s trash, that’s a thousand dollars,” Councilwoman Ramos said, pointing out those would be separate fines. “So, we need to get more 311s and get more citations on them to get them to that point.”
Ramos says a survey of just two neighborhoods in her district showed hundreds of additional vacant properties would qualify for in rem foreclosure just from these additional fines.
“If we all pitch in and we all do our call-out and make our 311 calls, I think it would (help). They have been sitting here (vacant) for so long, someone’s going to have to answer for it sooner or later,” Montriel Battle of Upton said Tuesday.
Baltimore has 14,341 vacant buildings citywide, according to its Open Baltimore Dashboard Tuesday.
Ninety percent of the city’s vacant buildings are privately owned. The ordinance has an exemption for 311 requests against city-owned properties.
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