Columbia City Council to vote on nuisance ordinance aimed at abandoned vehicles

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Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 9:23 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 31, 2022 at 9:24 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - On Tuesday, the Columbia City Council is scheduled to vote on an ordinance designed to crack down on blight in the capital city, namely broken-down cars.

The council will vote on the second and final reading of an ordinance which would specify unusable and broken-down vehicles as a nuisance, and grant the Columbia Police Department (which oversees code enforcement) the power to mandate landowners correct the situation.

Additionally, it would escalate the penalties for landlords whose rental properties are repeatedly cited for code violations.

Upon the second violation, the landlord would receive 5 points (instead of 2).

If the property receives 15 or more points, the landlord could lose their rental permit.

The ordinance also creates $100 fines for the first five points received.

The Golden Acres neighborhood of Columbia has struggled with blight, and Active President Sandra Ricks said she is looking for “help” from city leaders.

She spoke to WIS next to a truck she said has been present for a decade and subject to multiple fires.

“Oh let down is not the word, but they want us to come out and vote. They want us to vote for them. Well voting for them, putting them in offices, and they’re not coming out here doing anything for us. I can see if people around here in this neighborhood was not voting, they’re voting. They’re asking for help. They’re putting people in offices that think they’re going to come out here and do, but they’re not doing,” she said.

Neighbor Diane Mims expressed concern about the truck, stating it is a safety hazard.

“Any child in the neighborhood that can come and decide they want to play. They can get cut, any kind of thing can happen dealing with this truck and then when it happens, here they come. Then they want to get rid of it. We shouldn’t have to wait until something critical or somebody get killed and they want to move the truck then,” she said.

Columbia Code Enforcement Housing Official David Hatcher sent WIS a statement related to the truck reading: “We are aware of the burnt truck and plan to address it.”

At-Large City Councilwoman Aditi Bussells said the ordinance is the product of public comments and there are ongoing discussions about strengthening Columbia’s code enforcement division.

“Every June is when we approve our budget and with some unique funding coming through from the federal and state pipelines, we’re really interested in focusing those monies on infrastructure, workforce, and other systemic things that could improve customer service for the city,” she said.

The meeting begins at 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

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