Tag Archives: blight

Weppner Disavows 912 Blight Exploitation Strategy

22 Jul

Last week, I posted about 912 activist and Kathy Weppner volunteer  Laura Yingling’s search for pictures of blight that she could “use against Brian Higgins on Twitter and Facebook”. 

Evidently, Weppner is not completely shameless! She sent the following, and Yingling forwarded it to her Glenn Beck fan site. 

Well, to be specific, Weppner didn’t instruct Yingling to tell her dummy battalion to not take pictures of blight to use against Congressman Higgins – she merely asked Yingling to make it clear that Weppner didn’t ask for it and isn’t part of Weppner’s “campaign plans”. 

You see, Weppner is too busy running a “dignified” campaign on “issues” like universal firearms access and scrubbing all evidence of her pre-2014 internet existence

Chris Collins and His Excellent East Side Adventure

12 Dec

Remember this story?

The Answer Lady reminds us that about a decade ago, Chris Collins invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to go into business with a Tom Steube, who was already no stranger to housing court. When Steube went bankrupt in 1998, he left several buildings unfinished, and as I noted in late 2007,

When the debt went bad, Collins had two choices:

1. Write the debt off, take a tax break, and basically let the ownerless, moneyless, interestless properties deteriorate until such time as they become a public nuisance slotted for publicly financed demolition; or

2. Foreclose on the debt and make an effort to re-sell the property by making the bare minimum in improvements needed to bring it up to habitable condition.

Of course, Collins opted for number one, and the city spent tens of thousands to demolish some of the worst offenders. Other still stand. Boarded up. Blighted.

Yet Collins vetoed money that the county legislature allocated for the Distressed Real Property Reserve Fund, which would help the county deal with blight.

When your point of view is all about dollars and cents, rather than people and sense, this is what you get.

Buffalo: You’re Doing It Wrong

11 Feb

So, it was without much surprise that I read the following in today’s Buffalo News that Mayor Byron Brown’s “5 in 5” plan is not going as well as originally thought.  By the way, talk about burying the lead in the story…

With the 680 new demolitions, Comerford said the city will have torn down about 2,200 blighted properties since 2006. Still, the inspections chief said there are probably 5,000 additional structures that need to be razed. He said some areas are a “mess.”

“You feel like you’re not even making a dent in it. You are, but it’s tough,” said Comerford.

While Council members and administration officials agree on the need to accelerate demolitions, there’s mounting concern over what should be done with the ever-increasing number of vacant lots.

Lawmakers want to see new efforts to try to find owners for parcels. Some want the city to hold “mini-auctions” several times a year.

So, this program is deemed a success if you look at the right statistics.  But, the problem is that there is no coordinated plan for demolitions on a macro scale.  They are simply picking homes based on the condition, which is pointless when it comes to rehabilitating the neighborhoods that surround blighted properties and the vacant lots that demolitions leave behind.  The residual value of a vacant lot in a neighborhood destroyed by decades of municipal indifference, poverty and crime is nil.  The fact that the city is just starting to figure this out is depressing and sad.

The idea should be to target neighborhoods with significant numbers of blighted/vacant properties and concentrate demolition efforts in these areas.  Landbanking small areas of the city for future use and reducing the need to patrol streets, provide fire response coverage, maintain sewer lines and other city services.  This would allow for the city to focus limited resources in more populated areas.  The fact that I have to state the obvious like this is just numbing.

Instead, we’re demolishing a property on Sobieski Street one day (leaving behind a vacant lot) and demolishing a house on Busti Avenue the next day.  Where is the long term value in scattershot demolitions without a hint of strategic planning?  While we are moving closer to a goal of reducing the number of vacant properties, the effort does little or nothing to prevent further vacancies from developing in the neighborhoods left behind.

If the Mayor took a break from banana republic politics and instead re-read the LISC position paper on strategic planning for a shrinking city, we might be in a better position to reclaim our city from the forces of blight and vacancy.

photo courtesy of David Torke of http://fixbuffalo.blogspot.com