Augusta leaders join code enforcement for bus tour of blight

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Augusta leaders boarding a city bus looked at blight and are considering if city codes need to be beefed up. 

“How do we support the code enforcement division to actually enforce the codes that are already on the books, and if there is a need for an ordinance or an amendment to an ordinance, we’ll have that conversation at the time,” said Commissioner Jordan Johnson.

Blight is not new in Augusta, nor are the complaints commissioners hear about why it’s not taken care of quicker.

“It’s a process, you know. Courts have to be involved. There is a lengthy process in getting anything done, and it doesn’t happen overnight,” said Commissioner Tony Lewis.

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Code Enforcement faces obstacles like funding to hire and keep officers and state private property laws.

“There is not an endless supply of fiscal resources, but to that end, as I’ve stated because some of these properties are own by private citizens, we don’t have the right to go in and clean sweep like we would want to do so,” said Interim Administrator Takiyah Douse.

Most seem to be focused on the failures dealing with blight, but there are successes.

In the Bethlehem area, there are 8 modern homes where there were once 16 blighted buildings.

“In trying to bring the community back, we need housing. We need affordable housing. Everybody is not going to own a house. Some people, especially young people, want rental properties,” said Commissioner Francine Scott.

It will take six commission votes to get anything done on blight, but only four commissioners were on this tour.

“We can share the information that we have there is always time to come together and collaborate and share this information, but I would have liked to have more commissioners on this trip,” said Lewis.

The tour had no trouble seeing blight, but it will be less easy to solve it.

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