031, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from pwbaker’s photostream

There is no doubt that blight and abandonment have a significant impact on our neighborhoods. Blight is an economic crime committed on our residents. I have attended dozens of meetings across the city, where the topic of conversation invariably goes to what can be done about homes that are in poor condition. I truly believe that we cannot sit idly by and let blight claim streets and blocks throughout the city. Our Bureau of Building Inspection has made strides in recent years, but it is still woefully understaffed and without the most critical technology to do the vital work of keeping our neighborhoods up to code. Pittsburgh deserves a code enforcement division that will support the work of our community organizations in weeding out eyesores and public safety hazards.

1. Bringing Leadership to Code Enforcement

As mayor, I will use every tool available to combat blight in our community. I will begin by appointing a qualified Chief to the Bureau of Building Inspection, a position that has not been permanently filled for five years. Working with a qualified new Chief of BBI, my administration will implement the recommendations made by independent audits conducted in 2008 and 2012 to make code enforcement a more user-friendly process. Whether you want to repair, renovate, alter, or reconstruct property in the city, I will work to develop a smart rehab code that streamlines the process of getting buildings up to code and encourages people to invest in our existing housing stock.

2. Expanding the Toolbox

Across the Commonwealth, cities have used innovative tools to combat blight. We will leverage these tools to hold property owners accountable and keep our neighborhoods America’s most livable. I will direct my Bureau of Building Inspection to withhold permits from landlords who keep their properties in perpetual states of disrepair. I will work collaboratively with nearby municipalities to make sure that we know who the slumlords are and where they are operating. I will hold negligent property owners responsible for the blight in their communities so that the city isn’t footing the bill for maintenance and demolition costs.

Pittsburgh needs a code enforcement program that moves swiftly and effectively to nip blight in the bud.