The Norman Transcript

Columns

March 28, 2014

Using a bazooka to kill a gnat

(Continued)

NORMAN —

There has, in fact, been an attempt by several cities and towns, particularly in Florida, to impose onerous annual registration fees on real property that is vacant or that appears to be vacant, without regard to how well it is maintained.

Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s HB 2620 is a classic example of trying to perform eye surgery with a hacksaw. The bill not only totally prohibits registration anywhere in the state but also invalidates — statewide — all registration requirements that are already on the books.

For instance, many cities and counties require storm shelters and safe rooms to be registered so that after a tornado, emergency workers and police officers will know where to check to make certain that residents are not trapped in shelters by fallen trees or storm debris. HB 2620 would void that registration.

Many cities require owners of commercial buildings to register their structures and provide a floor plan with the locations where people may be working, or — in the interest of firefighter safety — where chemicals or materials of an explosive or noxious nature might be stored. HB 2620 would void that registration.

Some cities require that when a loan on a property goes into default, the mortgage company must register the name, address and phone number of the contact person with the mortgage company who is in charge of a property, so that if storm damage, vandalism or weeds and trash accumulate, contact may be made quickly to alleviate the problem and prevent neighbors from having their property values damaged. HB 2620 would void that registration.

It is absolutely true that government should not be allowed to charge fees on well-maintained properties and should not harm or hinder private property rights without a clearly justified public safety purpose. There should be no imposition on property owners who are maintaining their property, and no fee in that situation should be warranted.

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