634.07   VACANT AND ABANDONED STRUCTURES.
   (a)   Definitions:
      (1)   ""Vacant." A structure shall be considered "vacant" for the purposes of this chapter if it has not been occupied for a period of six consecutive months or more, except a structure shall not be considered vacant if it is only seasonally not occupied and such period is less than 12 months. A structure shall be considered "vacant" for the purpose of this chapter even if it is being maintained on the exterior, and even if the owner of the property is actively attempting to sell or rent the property.
      (2)   "Abandoned." An "abandoned" structure is a structure that is not occupied for any period of time during which the City has not been able to communicate with or locate an owner or party with the legal authority to be in control of the property, and after the City has made reasonable attempts to communicate with or locate the owner or a party in control.
      (3)   "Occupied." The term "occupied" shall mean the presence of a person or persons either:
         A.   Living in a structure and using some portion of such structure as a dwelling unit, as defined in the Housing Code of the City, or
         B.   Working in a structure and using some portion of the structure for the operation of a business.
      (4)   "Property." The term "property" shall mean all portions of the real estate of a parcel in the City, including lands and structures of every type.
   (b)   Any property that contains a structure that is vacant or abandoned shall be considered a nuisance unless and until the owner, agent, lessee or party in control of the property shall, at minimum, take all actions required in this section. The exterior of a vacant or abandoned structure, including the property and structure, shall be maintained in compliance with all applicable ordinances of the City, and the interior shall be maintained in a safe, secure and preserved manner to prevent and abate any threat to the health or safety of the public or anyone entering the structure, and to prevent and abate any threat of fire or health violation, or to its structural or historical integrity. The structure shall be winterized to prevent the freezing of pipes, and all points of entry shall be kept locked and secure. Sufficient property and liability insurance shall be maintained covering the property up to an amount at least equal to the fair market value of the property. The City shall provide the insurance carrier, if known, and any lien holder of record for the property a written notice of the requirements of this section and that the property is considered a vacant or abandoned structure. The City may require an owner or agent of a vacant or abandoned property in violation of this section or any other ordinance applicable to the property or structure to provide proof of insurance, and no owner or agent shall fail to provide such proof when so ordered.
   (c)   The Director may take any action necessary to inspect a vacant or abandoned property, and to abate a vacant or abandoned property nuisance, as authorized in this chapter. Upon inspection of a vacant or abandoned structure, the Director may take any action authorized by law to ensure that the property, including the structure, is maintained according to the requirements of all applicable ordinances.
   (d)   No person, other than the owner, agent, lessee or other person with lawful control of or access to a vacant property that is deemed to be a nuisance pursuant to subsection (b) of this section or abandoned pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, may enter, remain on, or refuse to leave, or alter or destroy, the grounds or any structure on such property. Any person who violates such prohibition, shall be deemed to have entered, remained on, refused to leave, altered or destroyed the property of another without that person's consent, and without the privilege, authority or permission to do so, as such terms are used in Chapter 642 of the Codified Ordinances. Any person who violates this subsection may be ordered by the Police or any authorized person to leave the premises or the Police may arrest such person for violating this subsection or a provision of Chapter 642.  Any vehicle remaining on the grounds of such a property that is not titled in the name of the owner or the ownership is unknown, or that is otherwise in violation of any provision of the Codified Ordinances, shall be deemed to be parked without the consent, authority or permission of the owner, agent, lessee or party in control of the property. The prohibitions in this subsection do not apply to any employee or agent of any governmental entity, including the City, which has the lawful authority to enter such property, when such person is acting in their official capacity as an employee or agent.
   (e)   Any vacant property that has been deemed to be a nuisance or abandoned pursuant to this section shall be considered to be in the custody of the City, and the City shall be deemed to be the lawful agent of the owner of the property, solely for the purposes of Chapter 642 of the Codified Ordinances. This subsection confers no authority to or duty upon the City over a property as an agent or custodian other than to protect such properties from trespassers or other persons who may enter such properties without the authority, consent or privilege to do so from the lawful owner, agent, lessee, or party in control or possession of such properties, and who may vandalize and damage the grounds or structures thereon leading to further deterioration and neighborhood blight. This subsection confers no new or different authority or duty on the City as to the condition, safety or security of any private property other than the specific authority conferred expressly herein, and such authority is in addition to, and not in derogation or substitution of, the authority of the City pursuant to its police powers. This subsection is not intended to, nor does it, require the City to be or make the City responsible or liable to any person for the condition, safety or security of any private property.
   (f)   The Director or the Director's designee may file a complaint with the Police Department or Prosecutor of the City based on any violation of subsection (d) of this section or any violation under Chapter 642 of the Codified Ordinances against a property that is in the custody of the City or for which the City is deemed the agent of the owner pursuant to this section. The Police or Prosecutor may take any lawful action including, but not limited to, the filing of a criminal complaint in Municipal Court against any person who violates any provision of Chapter 642 of the Codified Ordinances or subsection (d) of this section.
(Ord. 2017-11.  Passed 5-22-17.)