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Code Enforcers Should Target Absentee Landlords

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Style's report on Richmond's Community Assisted Safety program gave me mixed comfort (“Show Stoppers,” Cover Story, May 27). A few years ago when Richmond had the nation's second-highest murder rate, such a program would have just bewildered people of this lawless land. Government has come a long way, hurting only a few undeserving mentioned in the article.

Ever amazing to me is why, with about 20,000 buildings in various stages of disrepair in the Department of Housing and Urban Development's last count, our mayor doesn't sic such a team on absentee landlords. The law requires every building be code compliant. Penalties are as much as $1,000 a day per offense. There is no downside unless one refuses to fix or sell his distressed property. Property prices would tumble. Buildings would be occupied by people returning to the inner city. Crime rates would drop. This would be so much more productive than picking on hapless beboppers.

One can only suspect that too many officials are sitting on distressed property, waiting for a grant, like Mr. Eggleston and his hotel, which collapsed.
Sam Forrest
Richmond

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