Editorial: City does right in razing bad houses

Published 8:58 am Wednesday, September 25, 2013

It’s good that the city is removing dilapidated houses unfit for habitation.

The Albert Lea City Council on Monday ordered the removal of four of them. City staff posted placards on the properties telling the owners and the public of their defects long ago, one as far back as 2002 and the others in 2005, 2006 and 2008, yet little to nothing has been done.

The city has a duty to the best interest of all members of the community, and that includes the people who reside next to blight. Dilapidated structures harm the property values of the neighborhood, are safety hazards and, in some cases, become havens for squatters and crime. That’s why there is a law on the books that allows cities to solve the problem of neglected structures.

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City governments have a key role in maintaining healthy residential neighborhoods. That includes maintaining the streets, sprucing up parks, deterring crime, providing clean water and, when necessary, removing blighted structures deemed unattractive to private buyers. It’s part and parcel of what city governments do.

Though there will be people who disagree with the city razing private property, city leaders should stand firm in knowing they are taking the correct actions for the good of the community and, without a doubt, are within the scope of state law. The fact is, when people own property, they have a duty to maintain property. Buying a house is a responsibility, not something owners can neglect for years on end.