New restrictions for vacant buildings

New restrictions for vacant buildings

POSTED: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 - 7:41pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 - 7:41pm

There'll be tougher restrictions for vacant building owners, after El Paso City Council passed a rehaul of an old ordinance Tuesday.

It's, in part, reaction to the large fire that destroyed the James Hardin building last year, said City Rep. Susie Byrd.

Now, property owners will have to register their buildings if vacant for two or more years. The old ordinance said three.

A building can only be deemed "occupied" if it has at least 60 percent occupancy.

Windows on multi-story buildings that are vacant must have windows open, to prevent a "cinderbox" effect, said Byrd. That's what is believed to have happened in the Hardin fire.

If a building is vacant, they get inspected for fire risks more often.
A surprising change though. Council voted to only apply this ordinance to the Downtown and Lower Dyer areas, along with all condemned buildings.

Previously, all redevelopment areas, including the Segundo Barrio, were under the ordinance.

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