December 21, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain proposal increases inspectors’ authority

LORAIN — The city’s fight against blight may get more ammunition.

A proposed ordinance scheduled to go before the City Council on Monday would allow building and housing inspectors to become special auxiliary police officers. The approximately 60-officer auxiliary police force would be allowed to issue minor misdemeanor citations for housing-code or quality-of-life violations, such as cars parked on lawns or littering.

Lorain has five building inspectors and three housing inspectors. Building inspectors, who primarily do commercial inspections as well as point-of-sale inspections, are certified by the state.

Building inspectors primarily conduct interior inspections and are state certified. Housing inspectors primarily do exterior inspections and have less certification.

Lorain’s foreclosure rate was one in 812 homes in June, according to Realty Trac, a real estate website. That’s down from recent months, but the city still is feeling the effect of the national foreclosure crisis, which began in 2007, exacerbating blight.

Mayor Chase Ritenauer, who made the proposal, has made blight reduction a high priority since taking office in 2012. About 200 vacant homes have been demolished, thousands of housing code citations have been issued and point-of-sale inspections began in January to discourage property flipping and speculators.

Ritenauer said Thursday that the proposal would make inspectors more proactive and is similar to powers Parma inspectors have. He said it would eliminate them having to wait for police to issue citations.

“It expands the number of people who can be actively in our neighborhoods enforcing property maintenance codes,” Ritenauer said. “It speeds up the process. Hopefully, it allows for quicker resolution.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 oregoodenow@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter at @egoodenowct.