Salt Lake City Council To Vote On Abandoned Building Proposal

Oct 18, 2020, 11:57 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Salt Lake City has become a growing destination with dozens of new developments, but what cannot be lost in this growth are the abandoned buildings of years past.

On Tuesday, the City Council will be voting on proposed changes to a demolition ordinance involving those buildings.

“There are just too many people without houses and too many houses without people in this city,” said Amy J. Hawkins with the Ballpark Community Council.

Hawkins has been pushing for solutions to a particular building within her Ballpark neighborhood, located near the Gail Miller Resource Center on Paramount Avenue. A small, one-level home sits there, with weeds growing through the shingles on the roof, and rotted wood spotted between chipped away paint.

The abandoned house has become a hub for criminal activity, according to neighbor Robert Danielson, who owns a small business a few doors down.

“This is an eye sore, but that’s not the real problem. This really has an open sign on it for criminals to conduct criminal activity,” said Danielson.

He regularly finds drugs on the property, and has heard of sexual assaults happening in the past.

According to Danielson, the property owner has been trying to sell the lot, but hasn’t found any interested parties.

Since the house has no redevelopment plans in the works, it sits.

That’s why Hawkins said she’s supporting a proposal that would make the process easier for trying to demolition a building in Salt Lake City.

The Salt Lake City Council will vote on the proposal Tuesday.

Currently, there are ordinances that require property owners to get redevelopment plans approved by the city before they can tear down a building.

78 of 125 vacant buildings in SLC are boarded, which means they can be deemed dangerous by the city if they are boarded for two or more years. A new proposal would allow for those 78 buildings to be torn down without a redevelopment plan.

There is also a proposal that would allow the city to fine property owners every day if they let a vacant, dangerous building sit, without making improvements or plans to sell it.

“I think it’s a problem city-wide,” said Danielson.

“Sometimes, policies can have really unintended consequences that work against the city, and I think that is what happened here,” said Hawkins.

She pointed out that changes were made to the demolition ordinance back in 2012 following the famous Sugar Hole incident. A developer backed out of plans for a complex in Sugar House after they cleared the  property out. An empty lot sat in its place for years and gathered the nickname “Sugar Hole.”

“I would take a big hole over this,” Hawkins said while gesturing to the empty house.

Tuesday’s meeting will include one final public comment on the proposed revisions before they intend to vote.

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Salt Lake City Council To Vote On Abandoned Building Proposal