The Kern County Board of Supervisors is looking to crackdown on property owners, mainly lenders, who don't take care of foreclosed and abandoned homes. They met Tuesday and talked about creating an ordinance to prevent properties from becoming eyesores and to stop squatters.
But, not everyone is on board. The Bakersfield Association of Realtors believes the worst is over and an ordinance isn't needed.
Broken glass, graffiti, and just plain trashed homes that are foreclosed and abandoned, keep popping up like sore thumbs across the county. So, Supervisor Mike Maggard asked county counsel to look at possible solutions.
"Doing nothing about this won't solve that problem," said Maggard at Tuesday's meeting.
Chuck Lackey, Director of County Engineering and Survey Services, told the board, from the time they receive a complaint, to the time the county can take action against the owner, takes around nine months. "We have to use our resources the best we can and tracking down who the owner is, is part of that nine month time frame. That really drags on," said Lackey.
Lackey found other California counties, like San Diego and Riverside, have created ordinances that make finding the owner easier. They are doing things like requiring the lender to provide contact information on the deed, or posting that information on a sign at the property, and securing and inspecting the home. All are punishable with fees if in violation. And, there was talk of creating a local registry, forcing banks to register vacant homes and maintain them, to prevent squatting.
"I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all kind of solution," said Donna Carpenter with the Bakersfield Association of Realtors.
Carpenter told the board, the worst of the foreclosure crisis is over and says an ordinance is not needed. She says there is already a registry of foreclosed and vacant homes online that the county could subscribe to. And, she added, most lenders are out of state, requiring them, realtors, to take care of the property.
"If a squatter is in a property and we are required to go do inspections and you come in, and maybe you meet an unsavory situation, we don't want to have our members in that type of a situation," said Carpenter.
The board agreed to hold workshops with county counsel, the Association of Realtors, and the District Attorney's office to brainstorm and come up with a proposal. They will present that at another Board of Supervisors meeting in two months.