FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Fresno City Councilmember Miguel Arias announced a plan Tuesday designed to change the way the city deals with vacant commercial building property owners.
Arias says owners of vacant commercial buildings in Fresno do not have the same health and maintenance requirements as private property owners. It means buildings are increasingly attracting criminal activity, even leading to fires.
“Too many property owners in our city have had a pass exemption on meeting their legal obligations to maintain their properties,” Arias said.
Fresno City Council is set to vote at its Thursday meeting on a proposed ordinance to establish the same standards for commercial property owners that city officials enforce for residential property owners.
Arias says it’s a matter of safety that has to be addressed.
“Last year we had close to 6,000 fires reported in the city. That’s a 61% increase in fire calls in the city since 2018,” he said.
The owners of blighted vacant commercial properties could face fines of between $2,500 and $10,000.
The owners will have two months to bring them up to city standards once notified by the city. If they refuse to comply, the city could take over the property. The ordinance also mandates owners to install a fire suppression system if the building is unoccupied. A security system would also have to be installed.
“I’m going to ask my colleagues to remove the incentive from vacant property owners to keep their properties as blight, and instead hold them to the same standard as we do for any other private property owner in the city,” Arias said.
Fresno City Council will be considering this proposal on Thursday.