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LA Hasn't Collected a Single Fine on Blighty Foreclosed Houses

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Los Angeles's four-year-old foreclosure registry program was supposed to help Los Angeles cut down on the blight and safety hazards that come along with derelict, foreclosed houses, in part by serving up hearty fines to offending property owners (i.e., banks). But it didn't do its job at all. So says a letter from City Controller Ron Galperin (as seen on KPCC) summing up his harsh report on the matter. He found that the ordinance that established the registry "cast too wide a net" and required registration at the wrong point in the process, meaning many property records in the database remained incomplete and never got any follow-up. More startlingly, the penalties that were supposed to scare property owners into maintaining houses and keeping them relatively decent-looking were never once collected—not a single one. There were also no "formal processes" in place to share the information in the registry with, say, the LA Department of Building and Safety, which would theoretically have done the work of inspection and enforcement. (There weren't "additional resources dedicated to the inspection/enforcement function" either. Great plan, everyone.)

The report also included many suggestions on how to make the registry better, which seems to at least give a vote of confidence in the idea of a registry as a good method for mitigating the repercussions of having abandoned, foreclosed houses in a neighborhood. Here are the four recommendations:

· Create "a more accurate, self-populating geo-coded virtual map" of all properties that are in foreclosure (regardless of what stage in the process they're in, and definitely including the ones that are already blighty and posing a hazard to the neighborhood)
· Actually make sure that the buildings are kept up and squatter-free
· Collect those fees the city threatened to collect
· Share information with other city departments so that inspections and complaints can be followed up on

Since the presentation of the report, a motion's been passed to try and collect fines retroactively, as well as to address some of the actions recommended.
· Audit finds Los Angeles foreclosure registry 'never operated effectively' [SCPR]
· Audit of the Foreclosure Registry Program [City Controller]
· LA Looking to Create Big List of Foreclosed Properties [Curbed LA]