Coleman calls for citywide sweep of St. Paul problem properties


St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman on Thursday put negligent landlords on notice that city inspectors will no longer tolerate overcrowded and unkempt properties. At a City Hall press conference, he called for a citywide sweep of so-called “problem properties” and a new commitment to “accountability and inspections.”

The move comes just days after a fire in an overcrowded Frogtown apartment critically injured five of the seven occupants. The apartment was legally approved to house two people.

Coleman called problem properties a “clear threat to public safety,” and said the sweep will “send a clear message to apathetic property owners that we are taking code violations seriously, and we will not tolerate noncompliance.”

Inspectors will be focusing on Case Management Properties, those which have been the source of multiple complaints over a long period of time or whose owners have been unwilling to bring the property into compliance with city codes. The initiative will also focus on properties that require the attention of several agencies, such as those housing illegal activity.

In addition to the work of housing inspectors, Coleman will ask police and emergency medical teams to increase their reporting of code violations—or indications of violations, such as excessive trash—during their regular duties.

“We need to take advantage of every tool we have to ensure public safety,” he said. “One unsafe unit in a building is a threat to an entire building, and we will be relentless in enforcing our city code, and consistently reevaluating our policy to assess where we can
do better.”