CITY COUNCILMAN Bobby Henon plans to haul allegedly negligent landlords into City Hall to answer for why they've let properties deteriorate, going as far as to single out eight people during Council's session Thursday.
If they refuse to agree to testify before Council, Henon said he would subpoena them as part of a resolution he introduced in March to compel witnesses to come forward and provide documents.
"We need to start thinking about how and why our buildings fall into disarray, about why they become abandoned in the first place, about the way that we respond when the first call comes in from a resident about short-dumping, about a broken window, about trash on a lawn and any other property-maintenance issue," Henon said. "These problems start small, but over time can morph into problems that have disastrous outcomes."
Henon named eight property owners he wants to testify: Drew and Blair Demarco, Martin J. Brennan, Anthony Cancelliere, Michael Mola, Wayne Brokes, Walter Ulatowski and James Walsh. They own hundreds of properties, and Henon said he has received more than 50 calls about them.
He also introduced a bill that would create a task force composed of several top city officials - the police, fire and L&I commissioners and eight others - who would make recommendations to the managing director on whether to target problematic properties. The task force would decide whether to designate a residence as a "problem property" after it receives two or more violations in two years and poses a significant health or safety hazard.
After being notified of the designation, the owner would have 14 days to remedy the violation or face a fine of up to $2,000 a day.
Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald wouldn't say whether the administration, which stepped up efforts last year to go after bad landlords, would support the bill.
The chances for the bill's passage are unclear because it could add significant responsibilities for some of the city's top officials.