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New law could help clean up blight in Jacksonville

City Council passes law to demolition vacant homes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville City Council unanimously passed a new law Tuesday requiring the demolition of all vacant buildings that have had no power or water for the past two years.

It's a big change for the city, which could help prevent devastating fires.

The city told News4Jax there were more than 2,100 vacant homes, businesses, condominiums and townhouses in Jacksonville last year.

One area that has several vacant homes is the Eastside, near Odessa Street. People around there said there are too many vacant homes in the area.

There was a fire at a vacant home there over the summer and it's still standing. The fire also damaged the home next door.

People who live in the area said they're tired of seeing vacant homes. They're happy to hear about the new bill passed by the City Council that would allow for the demolition of 8,000-9,000 vacant properties.

People said the vacant homes are a place where people do drugs, set things on fire and commit other crimes. They also said they're a health hazard.

"They need to be torn down," said Oscar Wesley, who's lived in the area for 42 years. "They are nothing but just a haven for the homeless people."

Councilman Warren Jones said not every home that doesn't have power will be torn down. The new bill excludes properties that are historic and properties that are being properly maintained.

"You got neighborhoods that are struggling with a lot of physical blight, and this is one effort of many to try to remove and reduce as much of that blight as possible," Jones said.

People near Odessa Street said they are just looking forward to a brighter future.

"As long as they build the neighborhood back up, put something there that will keep it from looking so bare," Wesley said.

Jones said the Eastside, Springfield and the Urban Core are some of the neighborhoods with the most vacant homes. It could be five to six months before some of those vacant homes will be torn down.