STAGE BEING SET FOR BLIGHT BATTLE

September 12, 2000 12:00 am

By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

The stage is being set for battle as Crescent City Attorney Dohn Henion drafts a new, more comprehensive blight ordinance.

Its not a light switch situation. You cant turn it on over night. Its something were going to have to work on, said City Council member C. Ray Smith, who has headed up the mission to act formally on the issue of beautifying Crescent City.

Smith said the city is devising a way to address more than just health and safety issues. Many of the homes and business fronts in need of improvement are not considered hazardous, but have chipped paint or are otherwise visually repugnant. Smith and others in City Hall say they would like a broader set of rules to deal with that more aesthetic aspect.

There are too many loopholes in the current rules. When you position yourself to tell people what to do, that person tries to find loopholes, Smith said.

And we dont want to be a gestapo city, Smith said. We understand there are people (such as the elderly or infirm), who arent able to do it on their own. Smith said there will be concessions for such people and the city will do what it can to help them improve their property if its blighted.

On that issue, City Manager Dave Wells said, A volunteer has stepped forward to buy paint, materials and supplies for people who need it, but cant afford it. The city is also working on a way to supplement that effort with redevelopment funds.

A draft of the new ordinance will be published in the City Council Meeting agenda on Thursday. It will then be up for public comment at the Oct. 2 City Council meeting.

Our goal is to spell out, as best we can, what were aiming at with this thing, Wells said. He said it needs to be appropriate and physically possible at the same time.

There are some who dont think thats possible, however. Mayor Mike Scavuzzo wondered aloud, Is it the ordinance or the enforcers thats the problem?

Scavuzzo said there is an existing blight ordinance that could be enforced, but isnt. I just wonder if were trying to re-invent the wheel here, he said.