Commentary: Protecting foreclosed properties from vandalism

This editorial appeared in The Fresno Bee.

Fire officials are now discovering another negative impact of the nation's foreclosure crisis. Some teens are using abandoned homes as party houses and then torching them after they're done. This is occurring all over the state, including Fresno.

Fresno Fire Department investigators say that twice in the past week teenagers have been arrested after fires were set in vacant houses. Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and the City Council need to aggressively deal with this problem before it becomes unmanageable.

It's difficult enough to protect neighborhoods that are in transition during normal times, but when several houses on a street are vacant because of foreclosure issues, the problems escalate. Swearengin is committed to neighborhood improvement, and here's part of that issue that needs immediate attention.

Code enforcement needs to be stepped up in neighborhoods with large numbers of vacant houses, and the city might consider a hotline that gets monitored after business hours when these late-night parties and arsons often occur. These special efforts need to be widely publicized.

In the recent cases, teenagers broke into the abandoned houses, and eventually someone started a fire, according to authorities.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Fresno Bee.

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