North Columbia had more code violations for boarded-up and abandoned houses in 2007 than the rest of the city combined. A city-sponsored task force examining code enforcement will present its list of recommendations to City Council in August. Some ideas include:
Require landlords to have business licenses. It’s easy to spot the decaying houses, but finding their owners is a challenge. Business licenses would make it easier for the city to find owners when their properties violate city code.
Have the city’s community safety officers, who function as security guards under the Homeland Security department, trained to spot and write code violations.
Change state law to streamline the process the city has to go through to condemn a house.
For North Columbia schools struggling to meet minimum state academic-performance standards, help might be on the way
Richland 1 school trustees and City of Columbia leaders visited Mobile, Ala., on a fact-finding mission earlier this year. They hope they can borrow ideas from that Southern city on how it has been able to help struggling students do better in class and — importantly — on annual tests.
— Adam Beam and Bill Robinson