In a press release today, Mayor Dwight C. Jones' Office announced their new Urban Blight Reduction Program. The program proposes private property be maintained by the Richmond's Department of Public Works. The negligent property owners will be assessed a fee, a lien on their property, and one could easily imagine late fees, interest, and other penalties to the point where they can no longer afford the property and lose it to the City.
The City's Inmate Labor Program [budgeted by a part of the city's Community Development Block Grant (CDGB)] where inmates are paid $10 a day for 8 hours of labor for clearing weeds will be incorporated into the Dept. of Public Works' program.
And Richmond City Employees are so stupid, they haven't organized a union to represent their interests to their employer, as they are entitled to under Virginia State Code, Section 40.1-57.3. They aren't making a fuss now that their jobs are being outsourced to inmates who work for $10 a day. Slavery by another name is just an inexcusable today as it was 200 years ago. Where do you draw the line? I'm not telling you, I'm asking you?
The complete press release is reprinted below:
CITY OF RICHMOND News Release
For Immediate Release Contact: Tammy Hawley (804) 646-3110
September 28, 2009
City Implements Urban Blight Reduction Program
Immediate benefits of organizational restructuring realized
Richmond, VA – As part of the recent reorganization of several city of Richmond departments, the city has implemented a new program aimed at reducing urban blight. The new program, being orchestrated by the Department of Public Works (DPW) will address the maintenance needs of vacant properties in four city precincts. To date, more than 250 privately owned properties, which previously came under the purview of the Department of Community Development (DCD), will now be mowed and maintained by DPW.
“I believe this new program follows Mayor Dwight Jones’ dedication to ensure the best use of taxpayer dollars and implementing operational efficiencies,” said city Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall. “The Mayor takes great pride in the city, its beauty and rich history. As such, all neighborhoods will receive the same level of service to maintain the aesthetics and integrity of our community, as we work toward making Richmond a tier one city.”
This phase of the program, which began on September 23, 2009, includes mowing and removal of overgrown vegetation and refuse from all four precincts. Three of the precincts (108 properties in total) will be completed by September 30, 2009. The remaining 132 properties in Precinct 1 will be completed no later than October 31, 2009.
Subsequent phases of the program include, but are not limited to:
• Coordinating efforts with other city departments to identify and address other areas in need of maintenance.
• Implementing a system for routine maintenance of lots in need of maintenance
• Working with the City Attorney's Office to increase pressure on those property owners with significant amounts due to the city for work performed on their properties to recover the amount due.
The city's division of code enforcement will continue to inspect and identify potential code violations. Once it has been determined that a property has reached the level of non-compliance and the property owner has failed to address the deficiency, DPW will manage the maintenance of such properties. DPW plans also include the use of local inmate labor to bring cited properties back into compliance. Also liens will be placed on each property in an effort to ensure that the city will be compensated by the owners for the work performed.
An advisory group, consisting of the City Attorney’s Office, DPW, and code enforcement, will determine the best method of returning these vacant properties to productive use, as well as developing a system of recouping any costs incurred by the city as a result of code violations.