Vacant homes, lots in Des Moines could be subject to new registry

Vacant homes, lots in Des Moines could be subject to new registry

Des Moines property owners could soon have to register and follow maintenance requirements for their vacant homes and lots, according to a proposed ordinance that’s up for a final vote at the City Council meeting Monday.

City officials say if passed, the vacant property registration system would allow them to monitor vacant properties and require owners to be better stewards of them, with the goal to reduce blight. SuAnn Donovan, deputy director of neighborhood services, called the ordinance another tool to stabilize and protect Des Moines neighborhoods.

Donovan said buildings sat vacant during the Great Recession, when many homeowners went into foreclosure, which led to reduced property values and had other adverse effects on neighborhoods.

A backhoe works to demolish a house on 11th Street in the Cheatom Park Neighborhood in June 2019.

The city already has an ongoing program to remove abandoned and dilapidated structures called Blitz on Blight, funded by the Local Option Sales & Services Tax. Since 2019, Des Moines has demolished more than 100 structures at a cost of $2.5 million. Des Moines has launched an online map where residents can track houses and structures the city designates as public nuisances, the first step toward demolition. 

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