Program Takes Neighborhood Approach to Fighting Blight

The Los Angeles city attorney’s office has teamed up with the Building and Safety Department to take on blight neighborhood by neighborhood.

When storefronts and frontyards are left unattended, owners of neighboring properties stop taking care of their own yards and shops, officials contend. Criminals are then drawn to these neglected areas.

The new program, called “Proactive Code Enforcement,” is designed to streamline the process of getting property owners and tenants to correct their code violations.

The first target area is of Crenshaw Boulevard between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Vernon Avenue in Southwest Los Angeles.


Through the program, a team of building inspectors will check every business and residence in the targeted area for code violations, from abandoned vehicles and graffiti to illegal signage and merchandise being sold on the sidewalk.

Orders to comply will be issued by inspectors to code violators, who are then given a specific amount of time to correct the problem. If nothing is done, the violator can be fined or subject to other legal action.

“You are going to see an end to visual blight,” said Deputy City Atty. Ted Smith, a program coordinator. The Crenshaw Boulevard target area is “going to be less gaudy,” he said. “It’s going to be cleaner. Less wires hanging from old signs. The parking lots will be restriped. It’s going to become a nicer place to shop, live and walk.”

Targeting a whole neighborhood will prove more successful than just one structure at a time because shopkeepers will see that no one is being singled out and that everyone is being asked to make the same efforts, said Bernard Anderson, a senior building inspector and program coordinator.

“The deadly cancer becomes a positive disease,” Anderson said.

The program will be targeting neighborhoods in the West Adams area and later in the 9th Council District, which runs from downtown through a portion of South-Central Los Angeles.

To introduce business owners and residents in the 9th Council District to the program, a meeting will be held Monday at 5:30 p.m. at Ascot Elementary School, 1447 E. 45th Street.