Urban Renewal In OKC: An Attack On Our Communities Introduction As an American, you have a right to buy and own a car

. No one has the right to tell you how often or how far you have to drive it, or even to tell you that you have to drive it at all. You can park your car in your driveway for as long as you like without driving it, as long as you continue to pay your registration fees and put that little sticker on your license plate each year. Your car can be any color, and it can even have a rust spot on the fender that is covered with grey primer. You can let an older car just sit there without driving it, and hope that it becomes worth more money faster than it slowly rusts away. That's part of living in a free country, isn't it? But what if the government suddenly told you that you HAD to drive your car? What if the government said that if you didn't drive your car a certain number of miles in a year, or drive it a certain number of times each year, that they would take it away from you? Do you feel that the government should have the right to steal your car like that? What if your neighbor across the street thought that your car was ugly? That they didn't like the rust spot on the fender that was covered with grey primer? Do you feel that your neighbor has the right to tell the government to take your car away from you unless you sell it immediately or spend thousands of dollars on bodywork and a new paint job? If this were the case, would you still feel as if you lived in a free country? Does this sound like the America we love? Of course not! Yet this is exactly what is about to happen here in OKC, except with your house rather than your car. There is an effort underway for the city government to start stealing people's houses, and this effort must be stopped immediately. In the March 12th issue of the Oklahoma Gazette, on page 14, it is reported that representatives of our city government will be attending a seminar at Harvard Law School in Boston to learn the best ways to legalize property theft. This seminar is being conducted by an organization called the Community Progress Leadership Institute. According to their website at www.communityprogress.net, this organization is funded by the likes of the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Fannie Mae, and the JP Morgan Chase Foundation, among others. This is nothing more than banks and big money interests who are out to steal people's property under the guise of an urban renewal scheme. Within the last 5-10 years, there has been an ever-increasing effort by these big money interests in stealing America's wealth by foreclosing on and stealing as many properties as possible. Now that many cities across the country have been wrung dry, they have set their sights on OKC, and we are their next target. In the summer of 2013, I heard an advertisement on the radio about a free seminar on how to make money in real estate. Curious as to what the pitch was, I attended. It was an attempt to get people to pay to attend another seminar, and to recruit people to find houses for out of state big money investors to buy cheaply. If you paid to attend the next seminar in the series, you would be put in touch with these out of state big money investors, who would pay a commission or “finder's fee” if you found someone who would sell their house at a fraction of it's worth in a quick cash sale. So why were these big money investors suddenly so interested in trying to buy up real estate in OKC? It was

explained at the seminar that the OKC metro area has one of the highest percentages of paid off real estate in the country, houses that do not have a mortgage on them and thus cannot be foreclosed on by the banks. This represents wealth in the hands of the people, rather than the banks and bigtime landlords, and the big money interests want to grab that wealth for pennies on the dollar. Several months later, scores of “we buy houses fast for cash” signs started springing up along roadways, and similar advertisements started smothering the real estate section of craigslist. Apparently their efforts have not been terribly successful, as the number of signs has decreased, and the craigslist ads have grown more desperate, as the scouts for these out of state investors are themselves now offering “finder's fees”. Since this effort has been unsuccessful in convincing people to willingly sell their houses for pennies on the dollar, they are now about to convince the city government to either steal them from their rightful owners so that they can be resold at a fraction of their true worth to the big money interests, or force the rightful owners to quickly sell to the big money interests at a fraction of the property's true worth. This scheme can only succeed if the residents of OKC can be duped into thinking that this is in their best interest, and will somehow benefit them. The proponents of this scheme are about to launch a massive propaganda campaign (of which the Oklahoma Gazette article is the opening salvo), arguing that too many properties in the city are “blighted”, and that our neighborhoods and city would benefit by “redevelopment of underutilized vacant real estate”. Indeed, the Oklahoma Gazette article makes the first of these arguments by claiming that vacant houses reduce property values by a whopping 12 to 29 percent. Other arguments will follow shortly, and I will explain why each of them is false. I have been the victim of these sort of urban renewal efforts in two other cities in which I have lived. In both cases, these urban renewal efforts have had the opposite effect of their stated intent. I have seen the results firsthand, and will explain why these efforts to “fight blight” only end up hurting the people that they are said to help, and only benefit the big money interests when all is said and done. The Problems, And The Arguments There is no way that a vacant house will depress the value of neighboring houses by 12 to 29 percent. Real estate industry models that estimate the value of a house are calculated by the square footage of the house, size of the lot, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, type of construction (wood frame or brick, vinyl siding or clapboard, etc), the condition of the home, and selling prices of nearby comparable homes which have recently sold. Nowhere in this model is there any factor for the presence of vacant houses nearby. Like many of the other arguments which will follow, this is a case of the tail wagging the dog. In reality, what depresses property values is desirability of the neighborhood, either perceived or actual. This desirability is established by factors such as crime, maintenance of city infrastructure such as roads and streetlights, proximity to stores, and proximity to other neighborhood services, including public transportation and libraries. The number of vacant properties in a neighborhood are a reflection of it's desirability, and are simply part of the laws of supply and demand, and the free market at work. Vacant properties reflect a large amount of supply, and a small amount of demand.

Under this condition, prices (values) will naturally fall. It is not the vacant houses that cause this reduction of price or value, it is natural conditions of the free market which make vacant houses the result of these conditions. Vacant houses are not the cause of lower values and prices, they are the effect. Anyone who falsely claims the opposite does not understand basic economic principles. In the neighborhood in which I live, there are many vacant houses. I can stand out of the street in front of my house, and see half a dozen of them. Yet in researching city tax records, in many cases the recent sale prices of houses in the neighborhood are virtually identical to those of other, more desirable neighborhoods elsewhere in the city. The only properties which suffer from reduced value are the vacant houses themselves (at least the ones which are in poor condition). The neighborhood is not considered undesirable because of the vacant houses. The neighborhood is considered undesirable because the nearest fullsize grocery store with a decent selection, laundromat, and department store is 5 miles away. The only nearby businesses are a couple of fast food restaurants, a small grocery with a poor selection, a pawnshop, and seemingly a dozen nail and hair salons. The neighborhood is not made undesirable because of the vacant houses, it is undesirable because the lack of essential businesses make it extremely inconvenient to live here. Along with the false perception of higher crime in the neighborhood, this is the true cause of lack of demand for the housing that is available. The proponents of urban renewal schemes will argue that low property values are a bad thing. Again, the opposite is actually true. Areas where property values are low represent the bottom rung on the economic ladder. They are the areas where lower income people live. If areas of low property values did not exist, where would lower income people be able to afford to live? If the bottom rung of the economic ladder was somehow eliminated, lower income people would never be able to afford to buy a house. The standard of living would fall as lower income people are forced to spend a greater percentage of their income on housing. Renters would be forced to share with others with low incomes, packing additional residents into ever more crowded dwellings. Proponents of urban renewal schemes will claim that their efforts will help the poor, when in fact they are doing the opposite. OKC is one of the few major cities in America that still has neighborhoods with low property values, and this is one of the specific reasons why I moved here. At my income level, I can maintain a much higher standard of living than I would be able to elsewhere, precisely because of those low property values. Because it was stolen from me by a city government in a similar urban renewal effort, I was forced to go from living in a 2600 square foot house that I owned outright with no mortgage, to renting a single room and sharing a kitchen and bathroom with complete strangers. For what I paid to rent a single room in another part of the country, I can now rent a two bedroom house with a garage here in OKC. I defy the proponents of urban renewal to explain how lower property values have hurt rather than been beneficial to me! Those lower property values have given me at least a shred of my former standard of living back. Over the last 15 years, I have seen many of my friends go from being able to rent their own apartment, to being forced to rent houses together with each other as the lowest rungs on the economic ladder have been eliminated in other parts of the country. If property values rise, and incomes do not, this does not help the poor. If property values

rise, property taxes, home prices, and rents all will rise accordingly. If the proponents of urban renewal schemes stated goal is to somehow help the poor, they will not do it by distorting the marketplace by tinkering with the laws of supply and demand, and eliminating the lowest rungs of the economic ladder. The only ones who benefit from increased property values are the taxman, the real estate agents, and the bigtime landlords. Any supposed benefits of higher property values are not realized by the consumer, especially those on the lower end of the economic scale. Urban renewal schemes are a direct attack on the poor, and this will continue to be shown below. Proponents of urban renewal schemes will claim that their efforts will increase the desirability of “depressed” neighborhoods, and allow those neighborhoods to better retain residents. Again, this is an outright lie. Sure, a vacant house in poor repair doesn't look nice. But neither does a car with a rust spot on the fender covered in grey primer. Just as your neighbor doesn't drive your car, he doesn't live in your house. If we are to remain a free country, we cannot allow either our neighbors or the government to tell us what our house looks like, any more so than they are able to dictate what our car looks like. What your car looks like has no effect on how desirable your neighbor's car is, and it is no different for a house. The idea that the government can steal your car from you because your neighbor doesn't like how it looks is preposterous, and again, it is no different for your house. When uninformed residents of a neighborhood complain to the city government that the area has become “blighted” and demand that the city “do something”, they do not know what they are asking for. The result is not what they want, and they end up being shocked by the unintended consequences of their complaints. City government is always more than happy to oblige, with the first step always being a crackdown on “housing code violations”. An army of city inspectors invades the neighborhood, writing citations and issuing fines for every “offense” imaginable, from a lawn that is an inch too tall, to a loose gutter, a patch of peeling paint, to a missing piece of siding. The very same people who want the city to “do something” about the vacant house across the street end up with hundreds of dollars in fines, and orders from the city to “fix” their own property. The honest and decent people in the neighborhood are forced to make hundreds of dollars in unnecessary repairs in addition to paying a fine, while the owner of the “problem” vacant house simply pays the fine with the next property tax bill, or ignores it altogether. The city's “doing something” only results in the harassment of the neighborhood's residents, who eventually grow tired of the hassle and become frustrated enough to move elsewhere. The unintended consequence of aggressive code enforcement is to drive residents out of neighborhoods, not make the neighborhood more desirable. Aggressive code enforcement also ends up being discriminatory. You can bet that residents of the rich neighborhood across town won't be cited and fined for a lawn that is an inch too tall, and that the rich neighborhoods will not be harassed by an army of city inspectors, despite the fact that the exact same trivial “code violations” exist there as well. In the extreme case, one city that I lived in took things even further. In addition to aggressive code enforcement, vacant houses were demolished. This was done in complete disregard to applicable environmental law, since these older houses contained lead paint and asbestos. In addition to wanton environmental contamination of the city's poorest neighborhoods, the city then refused to maintain the resulting vacant lots, which

became dumping grounds for trash and debris. The effect was to make the neighborhood even more undesirable, and drive even more residents out of the neighborhood in addition to those that had already left due to the harassment of aggressive code enforcement. Those who complain to the city to “do something” about vacant houses had better be careful what they wish for, because these are exactly what the results will be. Indeed, this result is borne out repeatedly. In pages 41-56 of the GSBS Richman study, there is a list of other cities which have implemented similar urban renewal schemes. It well documented online that these urban renewal schemes do not produce the intended effect. Numerous articles about these very same cities show that the reduction in vacant houses is only a tiny fraction of the total. While many of these articles are propaganda pieces used by city housing departments to claim great success, an examination of the actual numbers show otherwise. The reason for this is because the underlying conditions that produce vacant houses are not addressed, and therefore market demand for housing in the affected neighborhoods remains unchanged. To cite only one example out of many, the city of Dallas is listed in the GSBS Richman study as a “success” story of a similar urban renewal scheme. I use Dallas as an example because it is the geographically closest of the cities listed, and thus will be the most comparable real estate market to OKC. Quoting from an article online written in 2013 (http://buildlouderdallas.org/? p=1131), we find that “The City of Dallas sold 140 tax-foreclosed properties in June. By definition, these properties were abandoned by their prior owners to such an extent that they stopped paying taxes on them. Many council members expressed concern about the sale of these properties. But what is the market value of these tax-foreclosed properties? While there was much discussion about the properties that were purchased, including a great map by The Dallas Morning News, many of the properties that were for sale did not receive any bids–even at minimum bids set as low as $100. Reviewing the full list of Tax Foreclosed/Seizure Warrant Properties shows that 35% of the properties for sale did not receive any bids. None–not even the over a dozen lots that had a minimum bid of $100. In fact, close to half of the vacant lots for sale (60 out of 134) received no bids at all.” Despite implementing a similar urban renewal scheme, no matter how low the price, no one wants to buy property in neighborhoods where police do not do their job, and residents are subjected to the hassles of aggressive code enforcement and invasive “inspections” of their private property. This will not work any better in OKC than it has in Dallas, or any other of the cities touted as “successful” in imposing an urban renewal scheme upon their citizens. Proponents of urban renewal schemes will claim that vacant houses are a fire hazard and cost the city (and ultimately, the taxpayer) money. Those who make this argument are counting on people to be ignorant as to how things really work in this regard. If you own a house that is vacant for any length of time, an insurance company will cancel the policy. If the house then burns down, the owner is forced to accept the loss. No one in their right mind would consider the total loss of their property as acceptable. Those who let a house sit vacant for any length of time are very stupidly taking a very serious risk in this regard. It is not the government's place to force people not to be stupid. Nor is it the proper role of government to protect those who are stupid from themselves. Firefighting services are one of the things that we pay property taxes for. Just like any other service,

no one should be receiving services that they are not paying for, and firefighting services are no exception to this. If the owner of a vacant house is not paying their property taxes, the city Fire Department is under no obligation to render their services to that property owner. Rather than the city government stealing the property, the owner should be notified that the Fire Department will no longer provide services when property taxes become unreasonably delinquent. The Fire Department's only obligation in the event of a fire should be limited to protecting adjacent properties which may be at risk, and the owner of the tax-delinquent property should be billed for the resulting service call. In the case of a property where the taxes have been kept current, there is no need for any change in policy. After all, the owner is paying the property taxes, and is thus entitled to the services of the Fire Department. Another false claim is that vacant houses cost the city money because they somehow require disproportionate allocation of police resources. People break into vacant houses, damage them, and use them as a base of operations for criminal activity. Again, this is the tail wagging the dog. More vacant houses are found in areas with higher crime levels because the higher crime levels make the neighborhood less desirable. Vacant houses do not cause crime, crime causes vacant houses. The vacant houses are the effect of the crime problem, not the cause. A vacant house just sits there. The claim that an inanimate object causes crime is blatantly false on it's face. Surely we will hear many stories from the police about all the crime occurring in and around vacant houses. This only goes to show that our police resources would be much better spent patrolling neighborhoods with higher crime rates, rather than running speedtraps in wealthy neighborhoods and writing parking tickets. Decreasing crime levels through reallocation of existing police resources to where they are needed most would increase the desirability of these neighborhoods, and the resulting increase in the demand for housing in them would result in fewer vacant houses there. In addition to proper allocation of police resources, the court system also plays a part. Crimes involving vacant houses need to be aggressively prosecuted. In addition to any other crimes committed on a vacant property, as a minimum the crimes of breaking and entering, trespassing, vandalism, destruction of property, and theft from the property all need to be prosecuted to the hilt. Once this starts happening, criminals will quickly get the message that these sort of crimes are unacceptable in OKC, and swiftly come to realize that crimes involving vacant houses are more trouble than they are willing to risk. Despite living in what is considered to be one of the highest crime neighborhoods in the city for over a year, with numerous vacant houses in direct sight of my residence, I have never seen any criminal activity in or around any of the vacant houses. In fact, the only criminal activity in the neighborhood that I have been aware of was a young man attacked on the edge of the neighborhood - in the parking lot of the public library! I have heard that despite the library staff ascertaining the identity of two of the four attackers through review of surveillance camera footage and library records and providing this information to the police, there has been no attempt to actually apprehend these criminals and bring them to justice. If we want to have fewer vacant houses in the city, then the police should actually start doing what they are paid to do in the affected neighborhoods. In high crime neighborhoods, residents are not getting their money's worth for the property taxes they pay. When the police department (and thus the

city) writes off the residents of low income neighborhoods in this manner, and those residents are not getting what their property taxes are paying for, is it any wonder that these neighborhoods are viewed as undesirable and houses become vacant? Examining The GSBS Study Now let's examine the study itself. The government of OKC has wasted $100,000 of our tax money to pay a consulting firm from Utah to produce this study. Of course, it is nothing more than propaganda, since it is obvious that the study was only produced to reach forgone conclusions. Consultants can be paid to say anything, and make it sound official. The only purpose of wasting $100,000 of our tax money is to attempt to rationalize stealing people's property. Just as easily, a consulting firm could have been hired to say just the opposite of what this one has. Just like multinational corporations pay consulting firms to tell us that toxic waste is good for us and that we should be thankful that our jobs are being shipped overseas, this study is an effort to tell us how our city's problems will magically be solved by allowing the government to steal people's houses. So with that in mind, let's pull back the curtain and expose this piece of propaganda. The study is titled “vacant and abandoned home study”, is dated June 26, 2013, and was produced by GSBS Richman. Page numbers refer to the ones given by a PDF reader, since the study is readily available (www.okc.gov/documents/vacant%20and %20abandoned%20home%20study.pdf) as a download in this format. I will provide quotes from the study, and then refute or explain what they are really saying for each one in turn. Quote (p5): “Over the past decade the number of long-term vacant housing units in Oklahoma City has increased by roughly 25 percent. The primary cause is low property carrying costs, meaning that vacant buildings cost so little to own that owners prefer to keep them vacant rather than putting them into productive use.” The claim here is that the number of vacant houses in OKC is due to property taxes being too low. They are falsely claiming that if only it were much more expensive to own a house in OKC, we wouldn't have as many vacant houses here. Quote (p5): “The cost to maintain, service, and secure VABs is subsidized by owners of occupied properties.” This is an outright lie. If you look at property tax records, you can readily see that if the city mows the lawn of or boards up a vacant house, the property owner is billed hundreds of dollars, and that amount is added to their property tax bill. Quote (p5): “ target enforcement by address/owner and to monitor impact on adjacent properties and affected neighborhoods. A per-building fee structure will be implemented to cover administrative costs of the program.” and “This second phase fee assessment should be further supported by fines” Aggressive code enforcement will be used to harass people with all sorts of fines and fees. Quote (p5): “Additional statutory authority (changes to state law) will be required” and “ requires changes to state statute” They want to remove the state laws that protect your property ownership. This directly affects everyone, not just the owners of vacant houses. Changing the state laws will

make it much easier for anyone's property to be stolen by the government. Quote (p7): “These buildings are a costly social and financial problem for Oklahoma City. They drain resources, depress nearby property values and destabilize neighborhoods.” Vacant houses are the results of the improper resource allocation, not the cause of these problems. Quote (p7): “owners have no incentive to improve and invest in their buildings. They prefer to hold on to their properties because holding costs are extremely low. In most cases the only holding cost is property taxes” The current supply and demand conditions of the free market are what provides incentives and disincentives. Here again, we see a call for increasing property taxes and fees. Quote (p7): “The structures are a menace to neighbors and a threat to the safety of police officers and firefighters who respond to calls in the area.” This is fearmongering, and this lie has been exposed in one of the previous explanations. The real threat here is from the big money interests who want to steal our property and destroy our neighborhoods. Quote (p8): “In July, 2012 the City and the Neighborhood Alliance conducted an email survey, asking 2,420 individuals on the Alliance’s email list about their concerns about VABs. The results confirmed what the City and the community suspected: vacant and abandoned buildings harm surrounding neighborhoods. As seen in Figure 1-1, more than 75 percent of the 155 respondents said that they have a VAB on their block.” This is propaganda at it's finest. 155 out of 2420 is a response rate of only 6.4%! This obviously indicates that vacant houses are viewed as a “problem” by only a tiny percentage of people. Yet, the exact opposite is claimed, that this “confirms” that vacant houses somehow “harm” people. If that were true, then the response rate would have been much, much higher. When the survey itself is examined (see below), it becomes an even more obvious example of how this entire study was written to reach a predetermined conclusion. Quote (p10): “Vacancy status is identified using the following data sources: • Vacant address data generated by Valassis Direct Mail, Inc. and verified by the U.S. Postal Service3 , • Oklahoma Gas & Electric shut-offs, and • Oklahoma City Utilities Department shut-offs.” So they want to spy on us through the utility companies. Information that utility companies have about your account is supposed to be private. We are forced to do business with these companies, who in turn will then hand our account information over to the government so that it can be used against us. This is a direct attack on the 4th and 5th Amendments of the US Constitution. If anything, privacy protections with regards to utility companies need to be strengthened, not eliminated. Businesses cooperating with government to infringe on people's rights is the definition of fascism, and make no

mistake about it, that is exactly what is being proposed here. Quote (p10): “This analysis identifies properties in Oklahoma City that have been vacant for six months or more. In a down real estate market it may capture properties that are simply in transition” Here, it is outright admitted that this urban renewal scheme affects everyone, not just owners of vacant houses or those living nearby. The damage that these proposals will do will be inflicted across the entire real estate market. If you think that this is something that will never affect you because your house isn't vacant, think again, because the negative impact will ripple throughout the economy of the entire OKC metro area. Quote (p11): “A large number of vacant buildings in an area may signal the potential for the housing market to collapse because of a supply/demand imbalance.” Here it is admitted that vacant houses are an effect of the natural market forces of supply and demand. Certainly the potential does exist for the housing market to collapse, and that potential will be brought much closer to actuality by implementation of the proposed urban renewal scheme. Raising costs (taxes, fees, and fines), increasing regulation, eliminating consumer protection laws, and harassing residents is a great way to make the housing market collapse! Quote (p12): “Owner-occupied housing traditionally requires a mortgage. Investor purchases and absentee landlords can be measured by comparing total sales to total mortgages. Sales without mortgages, in most instances, signal purchase by an absentee owner. The ratio is compared to the City’s overall owner-occupancy rate, a high rate signals an increase in absentee landlords.” Now, wait just a second here! The issue is supposedly vacant houses, not who owns them or how they are purchased. Here, we get to the crux of the matter. In this quote, they are defining the problem as houses being cheap enough that they can be purchased without a mortgage. This quote is absurd, given that banks will not write a mortgage for less than $25,000. Given that the value of vacant properties in OKC is far less than that amount, it is impossible to purchase such a property by means of a mortgage. This quote exposes the real motivations of the big money interests in cramming this urban renewal scheme down our throats, the goal is to make it impossible to purchase a house without a mortgage. This is why the big money interests are targeting OKC, they consider it a huge problem that a major city has a housing market where one can avoid becoming a debt slave to the banks. They want to eliminate you being able to actually own your house outright, without being in debt to a mortgage (which means that your house is really owned by a bank, not you). Quote (p12): “Extremely low prices signal disinvestment. These properties are more likely to attract investor purchasers who may hold the properties rather than invest in them.” This is a bunch of doublespeak, and an obvious lie. On one hand, it is claimed that low housing prices cause disinvestment, and at the same time, it is admitted that low prices attract purchasers. It is claimed that people who purchase houses at low prices do so only to hold them, rather than invest. On it's face, this statement is false, and no statistical proof is offered. Only in a market with rising prices will people buy something on speculation, holding onto it in hopes that they can sell for a greater amount in the future.

Yet rising prices (“higher property values”) is their stated goal! All that low prices signal is a large amount of supply, and a small amount of demand. It makes extremely poor economic sense to buy something that little demand exists for, and expect to somehow make a profit from it by just holding onto it while the asset deteriorates and loses what little value it has. It is only logical that the majority of those purchasing houses in areas where demand and prices are low are people with lower incomes, not those who would make an investment, only to allow it to deteriorate and lose value. Surely the actual statistics will bear this out, otherwise those statistics would be trumpeted here to prove this claim. Quote (p12): “The number of vacant/abandoned housing units will increase as market demand collapses.” This is very true, and the best way to ensure that this happens is to implement the proposed urban renewal scheme. Quote (p12): “Low sales prices and a high number of vacant properties usually mean no new market-rate housing construction. It also means home owners and absentee owners are less likely to invest in or maintain their properties.” Another obvious lie. It was just claimed that low prices attracted purchasers, and now the opposite is claimed. Lower income homebuyers are again attacked here, with the claim that those who purchase a property cheaply will refuse to maintain it. And again, this claim is made without the support of any statistics. Quote (p13): “Wards Six and Seven suffer the biggest impact from vacant and abandoned buildings in their neighborhoods, and are at the highest risk for market destabilization and disinvestment.” Vacant houses are a result of the problems in these areas, not the cause of them. These areas are at the highest risk for destabilization and disinvestment, because they will be the areas targeted in the proposed urban renewal scheme. Quote (p14): “While cities and neighborhoods prefer that owners invest in and update their properties, the cost of simply holding the property for a long time is so low, the owner has no incentive to do otherwise. If an owner does not maintain their property, the only cost is property taxes.” This is a call for raising property taxes. The claim that fewer people would abandon their property and properties would be better maintained if only taxes were high is absurd, on it's face. Quote (p15): “Vacant and abandoned buildings are costly to governments and to neighborhoods. They demand a higher level of all city services, particularly police, fire and animal welfare activities, while generating little or no revenue to offset the higher service levels.” and “The City services impact analysis measured calls on a 100 foot block face rather than parcel-by- parcel to capture the broader impact of vacant and abandoned buildings in a neighborhood.” This claim has been debunked earlier, and again, we see the implied call for a property tax increase. We also see an admission of how the statistics are deliberately skewed to reach a predetermined conclusion at odds with reality. If crime statistics directly associated with vacant houses were tallied, they would be fewer than those for occupied properties. The only way to make the statistics fit the predetermined conclusion is to

tally them for a larger area, rather than for crimes directly associated with vacant houses. Again, vacant house are a result of higher crime in low income neighborhoods ignored by police, rather than the cause of it. Quote (p19): “ The City loses almost $14 million in revenue every year from vacant and abandoned buildings or 3 percent of the City’s debt service and operating budget revenues.” and “ In addition to reduced revenue from VABs themselves, the City loses an additional $4 million in property tax, based on the current mill levy, from the lower than average property values of homes in the vicinity of VABs.” This quote illustrates the big money interest on the part of the city. If the city is truly concerned about $14 million in unpaid property taxes, they would put these properties up on a tax auction to get them back on the tax rolls. This will be further discussed later. Note that these unpaid property taxes only comprise 3% of the city's budget, yet the big money interests would like you to believe that this is the city's biggest problem. Again, we also see here the desire to justify a property tax increase through “increased property values”. What this means is that an urban renewal scheme will be implemented, then the city will claim that property values have increased (whether that happens to be true or not), making a property tax hike “necessary”. Quote (p19): “Unoccupied dwelling units also do not pay franchise fees. (Franchise fees are charged to public utilities such as OG&E, Cox Communications, etc. for the use of the public right-of-way. The fees are passed on to customers on their bill.) The average Oklahoma City household pays approximately $160 annually in franchise fees. The 11,773 vacant residential buildings on the VAB list result in an average annual loss of approximately $1.9 million in franchise fee revenue” Aha! Here the big money interest of the utility companies is exposed. You can bet that the politicians at both the local and state level who have been well-funded by the utility companies will be among those screaming the loudest to change laws to allow implementation of the proposed urban renewal scheme. At both the local and state level, I challenge any politician who has received contributions from utility companies to vote against changing laws to allow implementation of the proposed urban renewal scheme, and against the proposed urban renewal scheme itself. Quote (p20): “Vacant and abandoned buildings force cities to invest in new, and often redundant infrastructure. To illustrate the financial impact of leaving existing housing unoccupied while serving new population with new infrastructure, a preliminary analysis of the cost of water and sewer infrastructure for “redundant” housing development was completed. The analysis shows that if Oklahoma City’s current stock of 11,773 residential VABs is occupied rather than building the same number of new units in currently undeveloped areas, an estimated $57 million in future water and sewer infrastructure capital costs could be avoided. Similar costs could be avoided for roads, power and other public utilities.” Again, another lie. Vacant houses do not “force” the city to invest in new infrastructure. If the city wanted to avoid this, the solution is simple: Declare a moratorium on building permits in undeveloped areas not served by water and sewer lines. Do not approve zoning changes to allow residential development in areas currently zoned for agricultural use. Assess “impact fees” for developers to offset the cost of expanding city

infrastructure. Make city water and sewer services unavailable in areas of new development, and require well and septic systems instead (of course, this will never happen due to the interests of the utility companies). Let developers pay for roads in their developments, instead of the city (the taxpayers, which is you) picking up the tab. Quote (p21): “Data show that vacant and abandoned buildings depress surrounding property values—even in neighborhoods with healthy housing markets. A statistical analysis of the sales prices of all housing in the City showed that the average sales price for homes near VABs was 12 to 29 percent lower (depending on distance from the vacant structure) than homes in neighborhoods without vacant and abandoned buildings.” This false claim was debunked earlier. Again, vacant houses are the result of other problems in the marketplace, not the cause of them. Quote (p23): “Successful VBR programs incorporate the following best practices: • Registration of foreclosed properties at the time of notice of default or notice of foreclosure, • Maintenance plan documentation and submission, • Purchase of insurance coverage for unoccupied buildings, • Minimum levels of exterior maintenance, • Posting of owner contact information on property, • Frequent inspections, • Exterior nighttime lighting, and • Enforcement for non-compliance.” Here is the call for harassing and fining residents of low income neighborhoods. Right here is the blueprint for an attack on the poor, as explain earlier. Implementation of this wonderful little list will ensure that residents will increasingly abandon properties in our city's most vulnerable neighborhoods, and ensure that no one will ever be interested in purchasing a vacant house that has been subjected to these sort of onerous requirements. Who in their right mind would ever want to buy a house that is subject to things like “maintenance plan documentation and submission”, “minimum levels of exterior maintenance” requirements, posting of your personal contact information on the property, harassment and unconstitutional invasion of privacy through “frequent inspections”, and all sort of fines and fees (and possibly even criminal charges) for “enforcement for noncompliance”? These things will ensure that those vacant houses stay vacant, forever. If this list was being applied to your car because your neighbor happens to think it was ugly, would you feel as if you lived in a free country? If these sort of things can be applied to a vacant house, they can and will be applied to occupied properties as well. This is nothing less than an attack on every resident of the city, and on our American way of life. Any elected official who dares to propose this sort of un-American crap should be immediately impeached. In the name of the taxpayers who put them in office, the government of OKC should demand their money (that is, your money) back from the propagandists who authored this study. Remember, your own money paid for this garbage! Quote (p24): “The next step is a process for the local jurisdiction to acquire problem properties and transition them to new ownership” Who gets to decide who's property is a “problem” and is then stolen from the rightful

owner? It sure as hell won't be you! It will be any neighbor who may want to cause trouble for you, and unaccountable bureaucrats in the city government. Quote (p24): “ Funding to acquire, renovate and maintain the properties must be sufficient to prevent the property from deteriorating further” Here's how the big money interests benefit from this sort of scam: The city steals a property from the rightful owner. Then the city pays inflated sums to some contractor who is buddy-buddy with someone in City Hall, who will quickly perform a shoddy superficial “renovation” to the property. Then the city will market the property to poor people at several times it's fair market value, forcing those people into a huge mortgage provided by banks that have some sort of sweetheart deal with the city. When the purchasers find out that they either have been scammed or cannot afford the loan payment on the inflated purchase price, the city then bails out the bank (because it has guaranteed or backed the loan) at taxpayer expense and the property is then marketed to the next sucker. Since the properties are sold at inflated prices, the city then claims that “property values have increased”, and uses this claim to jack up property taxes for those in low income neighborhoods who can least afford them. Quote (p24): “The programs require ordinances and legislative changes, including: • Land banking authorizing legislation, • Property tax foreclosure reform, • Code enforcement reform, • Vacant property registration, and • Mortgage foreclosure reform.” In other words, they are claiming that laws protecting property ownership need to be rewritten or removed. Any efforts to change these laws must be overwhelmingly opposed. Politicians who support changing or removing laws that protect property ownership need to be removed from office as quickly as possible. Quote (p25): “The recommended program and fee structure imposes an annual per vacant building fee ranging between $470 and $925 depending on building type.” Doubling or tripling property taxes on vacant houses will only ensure that no one will ever want to buy them. Can you imagine these sort of fees or taxes being imposed on cars that “aren't driven enough”? If it would be ludicrous to impose these sort of fess or tax increases because someone else thought that your car was ugly and not being driven enough, then how could anyone possibly find it acceptable to impose this sort of thing on people's houses? Quote (p30): “Oklahoma City currently has statutory authority to lien properties for the costs, fees and fines for demolishing and securing properties. This will need to be extended to VAB program fees, fines, and costs as well. In addition, the City needs authority to foreclose on liens placed by the VAB program related to properties on the VBR.” This is a proposal to change the laws, so that houses can be stolen from anyone, for any reason that anyone wants to make up. If a neighbor or someone in the city government doesn't like the way your house looks, or doesn't think that you're using it the way they

feel you should be, your house can and will be stolen from you. Again, do you feel that a neighbor or someone in the government should be able to have your car stolen from you, just because you might have an ugly rust spot on the fender covered with grey primer, or because it stays parked in your driveway without being driven? This is exactly what is being proposed for your house. Quote (p37): “The underlying causes, rather than just the symptoms must be addressed for permanent resolution of the problem.” and “However, as with most planning issues, the causes and remedies are inherently local.” Here it is actually admitted that vacant houses are the result of the city's problems, rather than the cause, and that these underlying problems are what really need to be addressed if we want to see fewer vacant houses in the city. Quote (p37): “According to the Center for Community Progress, some laws and policies can exacerbate the problem: “State and local land use regulations generally favor building on greenfield sites, building new, publicly-financed infrastructure at the metropolitan periphery and exacerbating the costs of vacancy in the center.”” A masterful understatement, for it is the proposed laws and policies which will exacerbate the “problem” of vacant houses more than anything else. The issue of redundant infrastructure was addressed earlier. Quote (p38): “Property owners who neglect their properties and allow them to blight their surroundings and harm other property owners and residents cannot hide behind “property rights” rhetoric.” This is absolutely an issue of property rights, one that is not just mere “rhetoric”. It is an issue of whether or not your house can be stolen from you by the government, just because a neighbor or some unaccountable government bureaucrat doesn't like the way your house looks, or thinks that you aren't using it the way they think it should be used. It is an issue of whether or not we as citizens will allow our wealth to be stolen by the big money interests. It is shameful that these big money interests hide behind do-gooder rhetoric of helping poor communities, when their real intent is the harm, plunder, and further destruction of those very same communities that they purport to help. Substitute the words “undriven car” for “vacant house” in any of their arguments, and it becomes obvious how absurd their arguments and assumptions really are. A car and a house are the same thing, they are an asset that someone in a free country has the right to own, and that no one has the right to take away merely because someone else might think it is ugly, or think that it is not used enough. The GSBS Survey Now let's examine the survey. The survey questions themselves are slanted and biased, designed to produce a response that suits the predetermined conclusions of the study. In politics, this type of survey is called a push poll, and is regarded as unethical and invalid. Out of 2420 people receiving the survey, only 155 responded, indicating that only 6.4% of those receiving the survey even felt that vacant houses were an issue in their neighborhood. Again, in the political realm, a sample size as small as 155 respondents would be inaccurate enough to invalidate the survey. A sample size of 2420, however, is

large enough to produce accurate results, so the only way that this survey can be considered valid is to judge the responses against the number of those receiving the survey, rather than against the number of responses. I will quote questions from the survey, and demonstrate the obvious bias: Quote (p68, Q4): “Has the presence of vacant buildings in your neighborhood affected your sense of safety and security?” This is a subjective question. It only asks about a perception. It does not address anything based in fact. A more accurate and unbiased question would be “has a vacant building directly caused any physical harm to you or your property?” Of course, if the more accurate and unbiased question regarding safety and security had been asked, the responses would have been very different. To the question that was asked, 58.1% (89 people) of those who responded answered “yes”. Remember that this survey was sent to 2420 people. This means that of 2420 people that the survey was sent to, only 3.6% feel that the presence of vacant buildings in their neighborhood has affected their sense of safety and security. Quote (p68, Q5): “Have you or someone else in your neighborhood been the victim of, or been negatively impacted by crime in or around vacant structures?” In this question, there is an inherent bias for several reasons. Not only would someone truthfully answer “yes” if that was the case, any number of additional people in the neighborhood could also truthfully answer “yes” for that same incident. If there was only one such incident in the neighborhood, and the victim had answered “yes”, and 99 of their neighbors had truthfully answered “yes”, then one incident of crime becomes 100 incidents, even though every respondent has answered the question truthfully. In addition, a crime having a negative impact on someone could occur anywhere in a neighborhood that contains only one vacant house, and that crime would still be “around” a vacant structure, despite the vacant house having absolutely nothing to do with the crime. For these reasons, this question is absolutely meaningless, and shows how this survey is purposefully designed to have the results fit a predetermined conclusion. Quote (p69, Q6): “Do you believe the existence of vacant properties in your neighborhood negatively affects: Property Values? Ability to Sell Properties?” The “yes” responses were 94.7% (144 people) and 93.2% (138 people), respectively. Being generous and taking the higher number (144 people), this means that only 5.9% of the people that received the survey felt that these things are true. In addition, this question is again asking about a subjective belief, rather than fact. If what is asked in the question was truly fact, then real estate industry models would take nearby vacant properties into account for figuring out estimated property values and potential selling prices of properties. The fact that this is not done shows that the presence of nearby vacant properties does not have a significant impact on either property values, or the ability to sell property. Quote (p70, Q8): “The City is conducting a study to estimate the disproportionate service costs vacant buildings incur on police, fire protection, and code enforcement services. Would you support the City charging a fee to owners of vacant properties to recoup costs to the City?”

The bias of this question is the assumption (which was debunked earlier, above) that vacant houses somehow impose a disproportionate cost on the city. The question really being asked here is “would you support fees and tax increases for other property owners rather than yourself, for the city services provided to you?” Obviously the answer is going to overwhelmingly “yes”, since if someone has to get stuck with fees and a tax hike, people would naturally rather have it happen to anybody else but themselves. If the neutral and unbiased question of “would you support the city increasing property taxes and imposing additional fees?” was asked, then the responses would obviously be quite different. As the question was actually asked, only 5.6% of those that received the survey responded “yes”. Quote (p70, Q9): “Do you believe owners should be required to register vacant buildings to facilitate tracking these properties to recover costs?” This question contains the same inherent bias as the question above. Only 5.5% of those receiving the survey answered “yes”. Again, the responses would have been far different if the neutral and unbiased question of “do you believe that property owners should be required to register their properties and have them tracked by the government?” had been asked. Quote (p71): “Do you think the City should take possession of problem properties in order to rehabilitate and return them to productive use?” Again, this question contains the same inherent bias present in the two examples above. Only 4.4% of those receiving the survey answered “yes”. Like the questions above, the responses would have been far different if the question had been worded as “do you think that the city should steal the property of anyone who they think is not putting it to productive use?”. Note that these questions are all asking about someone else's property, rather than the property of those receiving the survey. This survey could only be considered legitimate if the questions had been asked in a neutral and unbiased manner, and in such a way that they applied to all property, including that of the respondents. After all, this attack on property ownership applies to everyone. As proposed, this urban renewal scheme is destined to fail in achieving the stated goals. Indeed, the GSBS study all but admits this! On pages 41-56, there is a list of other cities which have implemented similar urban renewal schemes. Yet interestingly enough, they don't bother to publish the actual results. Searching around online for the results of these urban renewal schemes, we find that the actual reduction in the number of vacant houses is marginal, at best. Personal Experience With Urban Renewal My own personal past experience with these sort of urban renewal schemes has not been good. I first bought a vacant house and started renovating it. Six months later, the city started literally bulldozing the neighborhood down around me, and at the same time, attacked it with aggressive code enforcement. The city started pulling eminent domain on the vacant houses, and then destroyed them at a cost of around $15,000 each (paid for by the taxpayers, of course) with no environmental controls to contain the resulting lead

paint and asbestos dust. What were vacant houses with a few boarded up windows became empty lots. The city refused to maintain the vacant lots that they now owned, so they soon became filled with 4 foot high weeds and used as garbage dumps. This certainly looked a lot worse than a few boarded up windows, and completely destroyed the character of the neighborhood. Prostitutes and people selling narcotics visibly roamed the streets at all times, yet the police ignored it. People in the neighborhood were complaining to the city that the neighborhood needed to be cleaned up, and that the vacant lot garbage dumps were only making the neighborhood worse. In addition to continuing to bulldoze vacant houses with no regard to environmental laws, the city then targeted the neighborhood with aggressive code enforcement. Suddenly many residents were being fined hundreds of dollars for things like a patch of peeling paint or a missing downspout. People were outraged, and complained that this wasn't they had wanted to happen when they said that the neighborhood needed to be cleaned up. They discovered that they had no recourse against aggressive code enforcement, since all of the city ordinances were written to be “at the discretion of the building official”, and there was no way that these unelected bureaucrats could ever be held accountable. Even more people left the neighborhood, as the garbage continued to pile up in the vacant lots, and criminals continued to openly do business in the streets. I was targeted for a series of break-ins, and the police refused to investigate the crimes or even take a report. When I demanded that they do their job, they accused me of trying to pull some sort of insurance scam, and was falsely arrested for “making a false report”. The case was dropped before it could go to court, but I had finally had enough, and my house was sold for not much more than I had bought it for. I then renovated another house, this time in a suburban setting in a different county, and was able to profit enough from the sale to move just across the state line and purchase two houses. One of them was in a small town semirural setting and became my residence, the other was another vacant property to renovate, located in the urban core of a nearby city. Halfway through the renovation of this house, I ended up going through a divorce. Due to this circumstance, the best way to retain my paid-for house (that was owned outright, without a mortgage) was to stay with friends in a different part of the country and sit it out. By the time that my divorce had settled out (2 years later, each of us ended up with one of the houses), I returned to find that my back yard had become a dumping ground piled up 4 feet high, which took $1500 to rent 3 dumpster loads to get rid of, and a $300 citation and fine from the city. Half of the windows had been broken out, the back door had been kicked in, and my house had become a shooting gallery for narcotics addicts (complete with little empty glass vials and needles strewn about everywhere). I immediately spent several hundred dollars repairing the windows and the back door, and clearing out the back yard. All the plumbing in the house had been stolen, requiring about $600 to replace. All the accessible wiring in the basement had been snipped out, which cost several more hundred dollars to replace. I had to do all my renovation work over again, and then some. When I went down to city hall to pay my property taxes, I was told that there was an extra $100 being added onto my property tax bill because my property had been placed on a list of vacant houses. I asked that it be removed from the

list, as it was no longer vacant. I was told that I would be mailed a form to repeal the extra $100. When the form arrived, I found that repealing the tax increase also involved giving the city permission to come inside my home to “inspect” it! I do not just let strangers into my home, let alone city inspectors bent on carrying out the aggressive code enforcement efforts which had recently been implemented (and had already cost me $300 for the junk dumped in my back yard). Consulting my attorney, I was told that if I did not want to let the city inspectors into my home, then the city had successfully raised my property taxes by $100 a year. Six months later, I got a letter from the city, demanding that I give them permission to come into my home. Consulting my attorney again, I was advised that the city had no legal grounds to enter my property, and that without my permission, they would have to get a warrant, which they had no legal standing to do. I continued to receive these letters every 6 months, for another two years, and I simply ignored them, as was my legal right to do under the 4th and 5th Amendments. Finally, I received another letter from the city, this one telling me that since my house had been declared “blighted and unused”, they were going to pull eminent domain and try to steal it from me! I immediately consulted again with my attorney, and was informed of the bad news: the city had just put me underwater, that the legal fees to fight the eminent domain would far exceed the value of my house, and it would be cheaper for me to abandon my house and buy another. Overnight, I had just lost everything that I had worked for over the last 12 years. I had gone from having 100% equity, having a house that was bought and paid for, to having nothing. Being forced to start all over again, I looked for places that the housing bubble had had the least effect on. My goal was to figure out where the cheapest place was to live, where property values were lowest, and I would be able to buy another house as inexpensively as possible. I selected OKC. I've lived here for a year now, and feel it's a wonderful place. Although my neighborhood is considered to be one of the worst in the city, it's quiet and peaceful, is inexpensive, and is a lot nicer than “bad neighborhoods” I've lived in in other cities. The worst thing about the neighborhood is that it lacks necessary businesses, which makes shopping inconvenient There is a nice supply of vacant houses in the city, and I've been looking around for the right one to buy cheaply on contract and renovate. But now, the proposal of this urban renewal scheme makes me very hesitant. If I buy a house in OKC, will I have my property taxes jacked up because it's been “registered” as vacant? Will I be forced to post my personal private information on the exterior of my property? Will personal private information on my utility company accounts be given to the city? Will the city attempt to gain entry to my home to “inspect” it? Will the neighborhood be attacked with aggressive code enforcement? If there is even a chance of any of my experiences repeating themselves again, I will not invest in a home in OKC, and will instead look in the surrounding towns which will not be subjected to the proposed urban renewal scheme. Conclusions The proposed urban renewal scheme is a very poor one, and would have a huge negative impact on OKC. All property owners will be affected, because any actions that can be undertaken on a vacant house can be undertaken on any house, anywhere in the city. Any

resident of the city can be subjected to any or all of the following: • Superfluous registration of property. • Public sharing of your personal private information. • Utility companies sharing your personal private information with the city. • Increases in existing taxes and fees. • Additional taxes and fees. • Harassment from aggressive code enforcement. • Increased risk of foreclosure due to changes in consumer protection laws. • Demands from city officials to enter your home without a warrant. • Theft of your property by the city government. This direct assault on our 4th and 5th Amendment rights is not to be taken lightly. As citizens, we cannot ignore this, saying that it could never happen to ourselves, that it will be someone else's problem. Perhaps your job will transfer you to another city. You move, and put your house up for sale. Since no one wants to be hassled with aggressive code enforcement, demand for houses in the city has dropped, and your house sits on the market without selling, despite your asking price being a bargain. Six months later, the utility companies tell the city that you aren't using enough electricity and water, and your troubles begin. The city declares your house vacant and puts it on a list. Your property taxes double, and the city demands to enter your property for an “inspection”. Eventually you are subjected to an additional fine for owning a house that happens to be vacant. You then receive a summons to appear in court, because the city is going to take your house away from you, even though you have bought and paid for it, have committed no crime, and have always paid all of your taxes, fees, and fines in full. Perhaps you inherit a house. This same circumstance can happen to anyone, for any number of reasons. Although the impact of the proposed urban renewal scheme will disproportionally impact those in lower-income neighborhoods, this can happen to anyone, no matter where you are in the city. If vacant houses truly harmed anyone, whoever was harmed would be able to sue the owner for damages. Yet this does not happen. This is because the claim that vacant houses somehow cause harm is simply not true. If it were, the owners of vacant houses would be sued many times over, and there would be no push for this sort of urban renewal scheme. As proposed, this urban renewal scheme will only serve to make less-desirable neighborhoods even more undesirable through aggressive code enforcement. The decreased demand will continue to keep property values low. The increased legal and bureaucratic requirements will ensure that investment does not occur in affected neighborhoods. Taxes and fees will rise. To prevent this from happening, we, as citizens, need to oppose this urban renewal scheme at every turn. Our state and local lawmakers need to be contacted. We need to demand that the proposed urban renewal scheme be scrapped, and any lawmakers who would vote for or otherwise enable it need to be voted out of office immediately. An alternative proposal needs to be introduced, and acted upon immediately by our responsible members of the State Legislature and City Council. With that, I offer an alternative proposal in the next section. An Alternative Proposal From the city's perspective, the problem is one of getting vacant houses back onto the tax

rolls. From a citizen's perspective, the problem is one of making certain neighborhoods more desirable places to live. Both goals can be accomplished with no cost to the city, and thus no cost to the taxpayer. The key is to change the perception that these neighborhoods are undesirable places to live and do business, and attract both commercial and residential investment into the neighborhoods that contain the highest concentration of vacant houses. This can be done through the following: • Reallocation of existing police resources to make high crime areas safer, thus increasing their desirability as places to live and do business. Instead of conducting speed traps, increase the level of patrols in neighborhoods with the highest level of crime. Decrease the number of police officers in other unnecessary places like schools and shopping malls, and place them on patrol in high crime neighborhoods. This will not only make these neighborhoods safer and thus more desirable, a visibly increased police presence will help to restore confidence in the neighborhoods and help assure residents that they are getting their money's worth out of their tax dollars. It will not be enough for police to simply take a report or make an arrest, and then have the ball dropped by the courts. Our court system needs to aggressively prosecute crimes occurring in these areas, if crime levels are to see an actual decrease. • Similar to what has been proposed for Detroit, declare the commercial areas of these neighborhoods to be “free enterprise zones”. Defer all property taxes and other city fees such as for licenses, permits, etc for a period of five or ten years, depending on the concentration of vacant houses in the vicinity. This will attract commercial investment back into these areas, making them desirable to do business in, and increasing the desirability for residents as necessary goods and services finally become available once again. The city will not lose money during the deferment period because they are already not having taxes and fees paid on many vacant commercial properties, and formerly vacant houses coming back onto the tax rolls will result in a net increase in city revenue. Cancel all fines, fees, and citations for vacant commercial property upon a new business establishment locating there. • Instead of driving away residents with increased legal and bureaucratic requirements, make it easier to put a vacant house back on the tax rolls. Do not make vacant houses subject to inspections by the city. Do not require permits, inspections, or fees to renovate a vacant house. (As an example of this, the city of Guthrie has a law that says no permit is required to bring an existing property back into original condition) Do not harass residents with aggressive code enforcement. Cancel any and all fines and citations issued on vacant houses immediately upon change of ownership or documentation of a contract sale (aka lease option or owner carry sale). This would encourage both the selling and buying of vacant properties. • Change the zoning ordinance to allow mobile homes on what are now vacant lots. No one wants to build on a vacant lot if the house will not be worth the construction expense. Allowing placement of mobile homes on vacant lots will change this equation, and get vacant lots back onto the tax rolls.

Declare a moratorium on building permits and zoning changes allowing residential development in areas not served by existing water, sewer, and road infrastructure. Require 2 vacant lots to be developed for every 10 or 15 new housing units constructed. The vacant lots can be provided to the developers at little or no cost by the city, and permit fees waived. Along with the above, this will increase infill development of vacant lots. Since there is plenty of land available that is already served by existing water, sewer, and road infrastructure, developers will not be impacted and chased out of the city. Compared to the cost of constructing 10 or more housing units, the cost of placing a used mobile home on a vacant lot is insignificant, and will not impose an undue burden on developers. • Strengthen consumer protection laws at the state level, by prohibiting municipalities from taking property for any reason other than unpaid property taxes. • Foreclose on tax-delinquent properties, and sell them at a tax auction with no minimum bid, no strings attached, and no qualifications as to who can buy them. Together, each element of this plan will help revitalize our city neighborhoods without any additional cost to the city or taxpayer. It will do so without stealing property from the rightful owners. It will do so without any negative effects. It will do so without significant distortion of the marketplace. It will not present a burden on any socioeconomic class or group of people. If we allow the city to take our property at the behest of the big money interests, we all end up the losers. But if we address the root causes of the city's problems that result in vacant properties, and then allow the free market to naturally work, everybody wins. This is not an issue of rich or poor, Republican or Democrat, progressive or conservative. It is an issue of consumer protection. It is an issue of property rights. It is an issue of our 4th and 5th Amendment rights being usurped. It is an issue of the free market. It is an issue of civil liberties. It is an issue of whether our city will become a more desirable place to live and do business, or if we will allow our wealth to be stolen from us instead. It is everyone's issue. About The Author Doubtless, there will be some who will attack what I write here. They will do so by claiming that I offer no professional qualifications, and point out that the GSBS Richman study was carried out by “qualified professionals”. Again, remember that consultants such as GSBS Richman will deliver whatever results that they are paid to deliver, and that their study was written to support a foregone conclusion. If they had been paid to author a study reaching a different conclusion, they would have done so. Their only role is to offer an air of credibility and authority to the big money interests who want to steal our property. I have spent the last 25 years in the construction and real estate industry. I have been a laborer in different aspects of construction. I have been a project manager. I have been a small-time contractor. I have been a property owner, resident, and a landlord in neighborhoods affected by similar urban renewal schemes. I have dealt with inspectors, architects, developers, and zoning and planning officials over the course of my

professional career. My experience encompasses everything from new commercial development, to buying and renovating houses in “distressed” urban neighborhoods. As such, there is no question that I am speaking as a qualified professional, with direct experience in the issues discussed here. My writings here carry no less authority than that of municipal planning officials, or paid propagandist consultants like GSBS Richman. My goal is to disseminate this document as widely as possible: state legislators who I believe may be interested in this issue, OKC City Council members, both conservative and progressive political activist leaders, media outlets, and community organizations. Please share this document with as many people as possible, and encourage them to contact both local and state level lawmakers. I am writing and disseminating this anonymously due to my past experiences with these sort of urban renewal schemes. In the past, I have spoken out at City Council and Planning Board meetings, community organizations, and to the media. I have been ridiculed, subjected to personal attacks, harassed, and threatened. I do not care to repeat any of those experiences. Remember, the big money interests pushing these sort of urban renewal schemes wield a lot of power through corrupt government officials at both the state and local level, and will seek to silence those who threaten their interests and expose their lies, deceptions, and theft of our property. As citizens, if we do nothing, we will lose. The only way that the implementation of the proposed urban renewal scheme can successfully be defeated is by pressure on our elected officials, at both the state and local level. Call your state and local lawmakers, repeatedly, and let your opposition to this urban renewal scheme be known. Let them know that if they vote for this, or for any enabling legislation, that you will vote them out of office in the next election. Only by standing together will we, as citizens, be able to defeat this assault on our communities.

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