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Vote delayed on vacant building ordinance

By Rachel Lippmann, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Aldermen have temporarily put the brakes on a measure that would create a city-wide database of vacant buildings.

All sides at a four-hour hearing Wednesday agreed that the city needs to address the more than 4800 vacant buildings in the city's neighborhoods, most of which are concentrated in a few wards on the north side. But there was disagreement as to whether the measure would tackle that problem.

The legislation, sponsored by 6th Ward alderwoman Kacie Starr Triplett, requires building owners to register a vacant building within 60 days. It costs $50 the first year, $150 the second year, and $250 thereafter to register the building.

The St. Louis Association of REALTORS objected to the fees because they are not charged for a service provided. Deputy mayor Barb Geisman said the registry won't even solve the main problem of absentee landlords.

"The people who are responsible property owners are going to register and pay the fee," she said. "But then you've got this other whole collection of people living in East Jesus some place who could care less if their building is hurting the city," which echoed the concerns of aldermen on the Neighborhood Development committee.

"Just as with any board bill that we pass here in the city of St. Louis, it does not guarantee compliance," Triplett replied.

Geisman was also concerned about the cost to board up the second story of city-owned properties. For those 1300 buildings, she said, it could cost the city $5.2 million.