Problem Properties: New website makes it easier to find and report Cincinnati's blighted buildings

'Safe and clean should be the standard'

CINCINNATI — It just got easier to figure out what city inspectors are doing about blighted properties throughout Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Councilmember P.G. Sittenfeld and City Manager Harry Black on Tuesday announced the launch of a new code enforcement website for the city. 

"Code enforcement is vital to the wellbeing of any city," Black said. "This database will help us accomplish the overall goal of creating thriving and healthy neighborhoods."

In a series of stories published in November, WCPO shined a spotlight on problem properties in Cincinnati and the impact those properties have on the city and its residents. Click here to read those stories. 

The idea behind the new site is to have all of the city's code enforcement activities accessible on a single, easy-to-use website. The data on the website is similar to what citizens can find now on the ezTrak Code Enforcement Reviews website. But the new site is designed to be more user friendly and far easier to navigate. The site also allows citizens to file a complaint online. People who file complaints will get a case number to make it easier to track the city's actions.

Sittenfeld praised the new website, saying that it will help empower citizens to help the city crack down on blighted buildings and problem landlords and property owners.

"It does reflect a relentless focus on the basics," Sittenfeld said. "Safe and clean should be the standard for every neighborhood in the city."

Sittenfeld sponsored a motion last fall to create a single tool that would make it easier for people to research properties and report problems. It was part of his Restoring Our Communities Initiative, or ROCI. The website also includes information related to another Sittenfeld initiative — the Vacant Foreclosed Property Registry. The goal of that registry was to make sure that foreclosed properties owned by banks weren't creating problems for city neighborhoods.

City officials at Tuesday's news conference.

"Too big to fail should not mean too big to mow the lawn," Sittenfeld said.

The announcement came on the heels of a memo that Black issued to Mayor John Cranley and City Council members on Feb. 5 to update the city's progress on the Private Lot Abatement Program.

That program was designed to learn and cut overgrown and blighted lots on private property. The goal of the program is to address problems on 1,000 private lots by the end of June.

As of Jan. 31, problems had been addressed on 753 vacant lots. Black wrote that officials would redirect about $100,000 from Keep Cincinnati Beautiful to a private contractor to make sure the city reaches its goal. The private contractor, Black wrote, took care of more than half the lots with problems and can do the work more efficiently.

Click here to research a property or report a problem on the city's new code enforcement website. 

A screenshot of the new website.

Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and also shine a spotlight on issues we need to address. To read more stories by Lucy, go to www.wcpo.com/may. To reach her, email lucy.may@wcpo.com. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.

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