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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Notices on vacant homes may attract thieves, but St. Paul officials say the stickers are necessary

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Blogger Bob said...

Pioneer Press

Article Last Updated: 03/18/2008 11:45:12 PM CDT

Unwelcome invitations

As the St. Paul City Council considers a plan requiring vacant homes to be up to code before sale, officials say notices on the doors are necessary — even if they attract thieves.
By Dave Orrick

The St. Paul City Council today is scheduled to vote on a plan to force some vacant houses to be brought up to safety code before they can be sold.

Council members also have been kicking around a number of other proposals — ranging from targeting mortgage holders to trying to take control of homes on the cusp of official vacancy — to prevent them from falling into disrepair.

Officials haven't finalized any such proposals, and City Council President Kathy Lantry said she's not prepared to discuss details. "What we want to come forward with is all our ducks in a row," said Lantry, whose constituency includes Dayton's Bluff, one of the neighborhoods hit especially hard by foreclosures. "When you're talking about doing things in a legal way, we want to make sure we do it right."

Meanwhile, the red, white and blue stickers that are increasingly adorning vacant houses in St. Paul will stay.

One change leaders decided not to make is removing the blue tags slapped on front doors or windows identifying a building as officially vacant. They're often accompanied by red tags saying, essentially, "no trespassing" and white tags for homes that are actually condemned.

These days, some say the stickers also are an advertisement to thieves.

As the price of metal, especially copper, has skyrocketed, police throughout the metro and the country have seen an increase in thieves breaking into empty houses to strip copper water and gas pipes and electrical wiring from inside, often creating a hazard and always decreasing the value of the home.

St. Paul police spokesman Tom Walsh said he has heard the argument against the signs, which in a few areas appear on almost half

A registered vacant building notice is attached to a home at 689 4th Street E in St. Paul on March 18, 2008. (Pioneer Press:Sherri LaRose-Chiglo) (Sherri LaRose-Chiglo)the homes on a block.
"I understand that argument," he said. "But I would argue that the stickers give us an even footing with everyone in the neighborhood to help secure those homes."

Here's the reason behind the stickers: Cops, neighbors and building inspectors — the city has six inspectors assigned to monitor the 1,644 officially vacant buildings — need those bright, ugly stickers to know quickly that no one's supposed to be there. That way, they can investigate or report virtually any activity, which is especially important because thieves often pose as contractors.

Steve Magner, who runs the city's vacant-building program, said his staff advises neighbors to call 911if they see any remotely suspicious activity

A registered vacant building notice is attached to boarded up homes at 275(left) and 279(right) Bates Avenue in St. Paul on March 18, 2008. (Pioneer Press:Sherri LaRose-Chiglo) (Sherri LaRose-Chiglo)in or around a vacant building. Contractors can work on the buildings, but only with a city permit and generally only during the daytime.

Besides, Magner said, last year at this time, the city studied crime reports of all copper thefts and discovered that about two-thirds happened at homes not on the city's official list.

Lantry acknowledged the stickers are ugly and a downer for neighbors, a constant reminder that their neighborhood is in flux. "But nobody has come up with a better way to do it," she said.

Getting homes off the vacant list is the goal of the proposed ordinance to be voted on today.

The ordinance, backed by Council Member Dan Bostrom, would prohibit some vacant homes from being sold without getting fire and safety inspectors to say the place is safe. Currently, such homes can be sold and are supposed to be fixed before occupancy.

Banks and real estate agents have generally opposed the idea, arguing it will drive up the prices of homes in a down market.

Bostrom said the problem is some homebuyers might not be aware of what it entails to fix such homes. They get in over their heads and run out of money while the homes languish.

"Some people have been watching too much HGTV and don't know how hard this work really is," he said.


8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I were a crook, I would just look for the signs.

I also look at the signs of a failing city government whose only response to this vacancy situation is more regulation and higher taxes.

John Krenik

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can these "so called leaders" be so stupid? They really think they can stop someone from selling their propety? All this is, is a scheme for the city to steal the equity out of the houses of the people who can least afford to fix them. Then they get to hand them out to their non profit and contractor buddies like treats. In the meantime the city's tax base goes to hell at a time when they already have a 17 million dollar budget gap. This doesn't sound like good policy to me, it sounds reckless and negligent.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:08 said... "All this is, is a scheme for the city to steal the equity out of the houses of the people who can least afford to fix them."

THERE IS NO EQUITY IN THE VACANT HOUSES! Go on the MLS right now and look at what the prices are on these things. There are 137 single family houses on the MLS in 55106 for less than $100,000 and 72 for less than $75,000 and another 42 duplexes for under $100,000. There is no equity there. Those are your vacants.

And, good luck trying to buy them. Even the listing agents can't get a return call from the banks that listed them.

You guys live in a dream world.


Chuck Repke

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ST PAUL'S HIDDEN COVERT-COMPLICITY TAXES,FEES,LICENSE,Citys Vacant Reg. Fee is $250.00 the 1st yr, $375.00 2nd yr , 3ry $500.00 Nice chunck of change called Fee's-License with 1,644.00 lets average at $300 + $400 thous, plus all the permits, code compliance, Bet a Buck the DSI takes in around million dollars in fee's to the arbitrary, capericous,burdonsome tax's on propertys. PS The County Director Mark Oswald does not know who sits on the Board of Appeals/Equalization to fight taxes

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Chuck

When the listings get to the point where some are being listed at $50,000.00 and below, I think that is where your house would fit in.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems like just about everything this city does is some sort of rico conspiracy. This stealing of vacant houses is a new one!

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Ciani says,"Exactly Chuck. So then why is the city so hell bent on putting every house they can get their grubby mitts on the vacant list?Also is this proof folks that Chuck is eluding to the fact that as soon as a house is on the vacant list they lose value."

This is nothing more then the city trying to make people walk from properties so they can tear them down.Who the hell would build a house for 200,000 in St.Paul when you can buy the one down the block for 100,000?Wake up city leaders!!

And buy the way Chuck St.Paul has the strictist vacant housing code in the country.Lets get these re-occupied as easy as we can should be the agenda.But the City has spent so much money and time trying to rid the city of low income private landlords they can't allow landlords to come in and buy these homes up as rentals.Bringing back the so called low income behavior problems.

Tim Ciani

Tim Ciani

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tim you're a joke. You prove the point the City has no interest in putting houses on the vacant building list. They lose money by the reduction in tax value!

NO, you are so wrong on the City and code issues. Almost every burb has landlord licensing. Which means they have one of these shit holes in the suburbs and they lose their license to opperate any of their properties in the suburb.

That is why all of the bottem feeders pray on Saint Paul and Minneapolis, because we are easy on them.


Chuck Repke

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck how about your shit hole?And yes St.Paul has the hardest vacant building standard in the nation.Chuck you're a joke.Get a real job man.

Chuck said,"NO, you are so wrong on the City and code issues. Almost every burb has landlord licensing. Which means they have one of these shit holes in the suburbs and they lose their license to opperate any of their properties in the suburb."

Ciani says,"What the hell are you talking about?Are you saying all the vacants are rental?I think your boarder line nuts."

Chuck said,"That is why all of the bottem feeders pray on Saint Paul and Minneapolis, because we are easy on them."


Tim Ciani

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, what can happen if the city doesn't force people to fix their hellholes before they sell:

Click Here

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Tom Ciani said...

Tim, you got anything to back that up?

According to Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal, Saint Paul is not in the top 100 cities in America.

Saint Paul is not in the top 100 in the country in vacant housing percentage.

Suburban cities like White Bear Lake, Mahtomedi, Inver Grove Heights, Little Canada, Tom Swifts hometown of W. St Paul, Stillwater, Roseville, Oakdale and Woodbury all have not only stricter rules for profiting off of rental property but tougher code standards.

So, instead of insulting Chuckie Boy Tiny Timmie, why don't you tell us where the regulations are easier to rent? Don't say everywhere, name a city in the Suburbs.

Or have you once again stuck your tiny foot in your big fuckin' mouth?

Big Tom Ciani

4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where are you? Done with your nap yet?

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck tries to make the case that the city loses money on tax revenue by tearing down homes, but I dis-agree. The current city leaders don't have a concept of what money is Chuck. They don't give a damn how much they lose because they can just keep raising the taxes to cover it.

6:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big Tom likes to point ot the suburbs with their tough rental laws, but what he doesn't tell us is thatr in the sunurbs when we call the police, someone comes out and does something besides blame the landlord and poison the neighbors with stories about how much landlords make off the Section 8 renters. He also ofrgets that in the suburbs, the city leaders repsect people's civil rights and don't violate them with criminal inspectors who lie about violations to advance political agendas. He also doesn't mention the absence of lawsuits against the suburbs.

His name should be "Big "Turd," not "Big Tom!"

6:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are no lawsuits in the burbs because when code enforcement tells them to bring it up to code- they do or they lose their license to rent. Period. These burbs also set a number of how many low income rentals they allow, unlike Saint Paul where you can take any home and do what you want.

Most of the police work in those burbs are done by the Ramsey County Sheriffs Office and if you think they show up when you call, you need to come out here one weekend night. Not only do they take forever if you're having a disturbance, they get pissed at you when they eventually show up.

If you take the time to spellcheck and research with a couple of phone calls, you'd be able to insult me correctly and inform yourself factually.

Its Big Tom to you. No where's Tiny Tim? Sgt Slaughter can't protect him, his ass is mine.


Big Tom Ciani

11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom Ciani said,"So, instead of insulting Chuckie Boy Tiny Timmie, why don't you tell us where the regulations are easier to rent? Don't say everywhere, name a city in the Suburbs."

Ciani says,"Open your ears.I said the strictist in getting a house off the vacant list.Quit listening to Chucks spin so you can understand what I'm saying Tommie Boy."

Tim Ciani

7:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Big bout this;

Go fuck yourself you sawed off little prick.

My spelling flawless there you piece of shit.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there should be an 'is' between spelling and flawless.

Hmmm, no backyard banishment for that guy? Oh, I see. He was relevant to the topic of sawed off pricks.

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get used to it.....we shoot from the hip here once in a while and sometimes there are casualties.

9:44 PM  
Anonymous Tom Ciani said...

Sorry Timmy Boy. That's not what you said.

You said "And buy the way Chuck St.Paul has the strictist vacant housing code in the country."

How is that the same as ""Open your ears.I said the strictist in getting a house off the vacant list."?

Its not Little Timmy and you've been busted pulling falsehoods out of your ass on the stats and ranking of St Paul in the country. You have now been busted as a liar.

Don't tangle with Big Tom again. I'm going to be on you like stink on a monkey, double checking your facts and statements. Exposing you for the phoney you are.

Big Tom Ciani

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's time we deal with the real issues affecting housing in St. Paul.

Specifically, the city does not have citizen oversight for its inspectors and housing efforts.

This is a critically important area.

Look at the task facing a citizen oversight committee.

The group will need to
1. Be capable of identifying obscure safety issues.
2. Be capable of identifying sophisticated rip-off attempts.
3. Be capable of navigating confusing code issues.
4. Be capable of evaluating claims by inspectors, and provide a deterrent for misconduct by inspectors.
5. Be capable of dispelling any appearances of impropriety by the city administration.
6. Be capable of earning the trust of the people by using good judgment, common sense, and fair play.

While a committee could be improperly set up as a sham, it is disturbing that the city does not even attempt the appearance of impartiality in this important area.

I would like to see a topic outlining what comparably sized cities do to provide citizen oversight. Research on this is well within the capabilities of Bob or other concerned citizens who are sick about the lack of citizen oversight. We need solid information in this area, rather than contentious rhetoric.

As it stands, I expect all difficult questions (at least those that are identified as such) are sent to the inspections department. This leaves bureaucrats regulating themselves.

What research will find in comparably sized cities are blue-ribbon panels which include top level attorneys, construction professionals, and realtors who do have the ability to handle the difficult questions intelligently.

12:14 PM  

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