Owners of derelict abandoned buildings facing penalty under new Guam law
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has signed into law a bill that establishes a timeline for owners to address unsafe abandoned structures by repairing or demolishing them.
Bil1 No. 151-36, now Public Law 36-83, imposes a fine of $5,000 on building owners who fail to remedy unsafe buildings or structures within the period provided by law.
"Achieving the goals of beautifying the island is an ongoing collective process, and this legislation is a modest step in that direction," Leon Guerrero said.
The new law requires the Department of Public Works to complete various duties within statutorily defined deadlines, and authorizes the imposition of civil penalties to induce compliance.
The law, introduced by Sens. James Moylan, Tony Ada, Chris Duenas, and Frank Blas Jr., provides DPW inspectors with additional authority in working with owners of derelicts by establishing realistic timelines for compliance.
"Businesses and individuals would now have to comply with timelines if they are issued a notice, and failure to conform with the procedures could lead to severe fines, or in some cases a lien on the property," Moylan said.
“P.L. 36-83 is more than about unsafe structures. The measure addresses various community-driven concerns from public safety to public and environmental health, beautification, and impacts economic realities,” added Moylan.
Prior to introducing the bill, the senators took a tour of derelict parking garage in Tumon, which became a dumping ground for trash, a hub for illicit activity, and unfortunately housed many homeless individuals.
The senators worked with community partners and the owners of the structure and their representatives to address the problems in the structure. This led to assisting some families in finding a decent and safe roof over their heads.
“As we address public safety measures, it is critical that we have some teeth with our statutes associated with unsafe buildings, as there is unfortunately a correlation between some of these derelicts and criminal activity that can’t be ignored," Moylan said.