SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan is taking aim at property owners who have vacant buildings in the city. He says the owners aren’t doing enough to keep the buildings from deteriorating.
According to Mahan, urban blight such as the long vacant First Church of Christ Scientist will not go ignored. “Behind me is a symbol of negligence that will no longer be tolerated in the City of San Jose,” Mahan said.
The mayor says the city will be taking a proactive approach to addressing deteriorating properties by considering an increase in penalty caps from $100,000 to $500,000. He hopes it will force the owners of the church, China-based Z&L Properties, to fix up the site.
“We have what should be a civic pride that’s turned into a point of frankly embarrassment for our city and we’re not going to stand for that any longer,” Mahan said.
Councilmember Omar Torres says his office has been flooded with constituents calling the site “trashbag church”.
“I will not allow this historically significant property to continue to deteriorate. We are giving our residents false promises in our abilities to address significant blight issues in our city,” Torres said.
If the $500,000 fine cap proposal is passed later this month, Z&L Properties will be fined $10,000 a day until the limit is reached. The city is also exploring the possibility of repurchasing the site.
“We are going to find every tool in the toolbox for holding Z&L accountable for properly protecting and maintaining this incredible historical landmark,” Mahan said.
The fine cap proposal is set to go before a committee starting next week. The mayor says in the meantime, the code enforcement department will be sending officers to start issuing citations.