The Oakland Park City Commission is asking city staff for a “major overhaul” of a proposed ordinance that would require properties that are in foreclosure to be registered with the city.

The ordinance, presented at the commission’s Aug. 4 meeting, currently only requires this if the home is unoccupied.

“It’s kind of overreach for the government and I don't want to do this; I don't see us getting ahead of anything,” said Vice Mayor Michael Carn. “This does nothing for me but reach into people’s personal business.”

In order for the ordinance to be reworked by city staff, the commission had to approve the first reading. Otherwise, the ordinance would die and remain as is.

According to the cover sheet provided to commissioners, “staff recommends adding the requirement for all properties in a state of default [vacant and occupied] be required to register with the City, which will allow for earlier active monitoring and compliance actions by Community Enhancement Staff.” City Manager David Hebert explained that the information would help staff be notified of violations and warnings.

Mayor Jane Bolin, who is a real estate attorney, explained that the ordinance probably came about during the recession in 2007, when homes were being foreclosed on at a rapid rate. However, she said that the proposed ordinance needs to “go back to the drawing board.”

“I think the definitions have to change. I also wonder about enforcement mechanisms,” she said. “Does our registration requirement get us anywhere?”

Commissioner Aisha Gordon said she asked staff how many homes would fall under this ordinance, as she was “taken off guard by this request.” While she did not share the number, she said it didn’t seem to be something the city needed to pursue.

“Right now I don't see a real crisis with distressed properties, especially based on the number that was given to me. It was a very low number,” she said.

Commissioner Mitch Rosenwald, a social worker and professor at Barry University, added that it seemed more important for the city to be aware of code violations, not whether the home is in foreclosure or not. He also said the ordinance makes assumptions about homeowners who are in foreclosure.

“They may be in a crisis, and when people are in a crisis, things break down,” he said. “There are other people who have obstacles in life, when in foreclosure, and still take care of their kids.”

While he agreed that the ordinance needed work, Commissioner Matthew Sparks said he didn’t think the spirit of the ordinance was to put a spotlight on people in foreclosure.

“All we’re doing is saying we’d like a list of bank-owned properties,” he said. “We’re not actually saying we want you to file before you go into bankruptcy. I’ve been through this and I have no problem with owning up to that.”

He also shared that he himself was foreclosed on during the recession.

Carn emphasized his opposition to the ordinance as it was written.

“Why should I have to register with you because I’ve fallen on bad times?” he asked. “No. We just don’t do people like that.”


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