Neglected and abandoned properties are a persistent problem in America’s low-income urban areas. The city of Newark is no exception, and its mayor, Cory Booker, has rightly focused his attention on the issue, passing a law requiring the owners of abandoned properties to register them with the city and properly secure them. Booker, however, failed to abide by the letter of his own law. I write on the homepage:
During his tenure as mayor of Newark, Booker has spoken out against the neglected properties that litter the city, and in August 2011, he signed into law an ordinance requiring landowners to register vacant properties with the city’s Office of Rent Control. The mayor himself, however, failed to register the Court Street house, according to Maria Hernandez in Newark’s rent-control office. The ordinance required those who owned vacant property at the time of the law’s passage to register it by August 31, 2011, with the penalty for noncompliance being a fine between $500 and $1,000. “Every day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate and distinct offense,” the ordinance reads.
In March of last year, a fire broke out on the propery; law enforcement believes it was caused by squatters. It is perhaps no coincidence that, just three weeks after former New Jersey senator Frank Lautenberg announced his intention to retire, Booker sold the property — which he purchased in 2009 for $175,000 — to Newark Now, the charity he founded in 2003, for $1. The charity now says it is in negotiations to sell the property. More here.