Anti-blighted properties bill now law

After a year, property owners are to be held accountable

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signed into law yesterday a measure that would hold blighted property owners accountable.

House Local Bill 20-14 was finally enacted after two prior legislations unsuccessfully went through the Legislature

Torres inked Rep. Lorenzo Deleon Guerrero’s (R-Saipan) H.L.B. 20-14 after going through five amendments and hours of discussions during Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation sessions.

The bill seeks to address the numerous abandoned cars and buildings that are “eyesores” to tourists and residents and uncontrolled breeding ground for pests, protection or shelter for rodents and vermin, and a possible site for drug manufacturing, trafficking, or use.

The bill mandates that any property owner who has been in violation for over 90 days would be penalized. Penalties would accrue, with each passing day counting as a separate instance of the violation. The bill did not specify the penalty amounts to be imposed on the property owner.

The Commonwealth Zoning Office may abate the nuisance themselves but with the costs to be recouped from the property owner, if the property owner fails to abate the nuisance after the expiration of his right to appeal to the Zoning board.

An educational period of one year after the bill’s enactment would occur to allow property owners time to prepare for the new statute.

The bill becomes Saipan Local Law 20-25.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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