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Cleaning up blighted Cincinnati properties

Jay Hanselman

Cincinnati Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld is continuing his push to fight blight in the city's neighborhoods.  

He held a press conference Tuesday morning to discuss his latest plan.

“The Restoring Our Communities Initiative is aimed entirely at combating blight, improving safety and bolstering property values in our neighborhoods,” Sittenfeld said.

One part of the plan focuses on an Ohio Senate bill that if passed will allow people to step-in to clean-up a blighted property even if they don’t own it and not face a trespassing charge.  

Price Hill Will Executive Director Ken Smith said that would be an important change.

“It’s the ultimate insult to injury when you have a responsible party just abdicate their responsibility for the property,” Smith said.  “And then you have someone in the community who is not responsible for the property but is willing to take on that responsibility and you say to that person ‘if you do, you may face a penalty’ for doing what everyone would agree is the right thing to do.”

The second part of Sittenfeld's plan includes prioritizing building demolitions near schools and places with lots of children.  

The final piece involves possibly expanding the city’s Vacant Foreclosed Property Registration Pilot Program.  

Sittenfeld said its shown good results with more than 400 foreclosed properties registered in five target neighborhoods.  The program has also collected more than $60,000 in fines and fees from large financial institutions that have largely ignored the properties they own.

“The program is going to be evaluated in June and we’ve already heard from many Cincinnati neighborhoods saying please expand this pilot to where we are,” Sittenfeld said.

Right now the pilot program is focused on College Hill, Madisonville, East Price Hill, Westwood and West Price Hill.

Sittenfeld said his goal is to maintain property values and safety in the city’s neighborhoods.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.