Hoping to shame the city's worst landlords into cleaning up their properties, Pittsburgh Councilman Bill Peduto wants to put up signs identifying the owners and providing their phone numbers.
Under legislation Mr. Peduto introduced Tuesday, the city Bureau of Building Inspection would compile a list of the 10 worst-kept properties based on housing court data and then the public works department would erect the signs in front of the problem buildings. Mr. Peduto hopes residents would contact the offenders to demand that they get their houses in order.
"This is a way to bring public pressure to the process," Mr. Peduto said. The idea is worth considering, said Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who has created Love Your Block, the Redd Up Zone and other programs to promote neighborhood beautification.
Mr. Peduto said the city used the same tactic to address five nuisance properties in the late 1990s. After the five were sold, demolished or improved, he said, the city dropped the program.
The tactic already is used in other cities, and some Pittsburgh neighborhood groups also single out nuisance properties in their newsletters.
But some property owners cannot be shamed because they're out of town -- or otherwise unreachable, Aggie Brose, deputy director of Bloomfield-Garfield Corp., said.
"I could shame them till hell freezes over and it doesn't work because they're in Allegheny Cemetery," said Ms. Brose, who alternately features poorly kept properties and model properties in the association newsletter.
Dogging bad landlords is an endless task, said Ms. Brose, describing such owners as thieves because they "steal" their neighbors' equity.
Mr. Peduto's proposal received a cold response from Rita Dallago, executive director of Pennsylvania Residential Owners Association, a landlords' group. "Wouldn't this be a form of blacklisting?" she said.
Ms. Dallago said using housing court data to identify the worst-kept properties is problematic because some citations are issued for minor offenses, such as cracked windows and early placement of trash at the curb.
She suggested that neighborhood leaders and nearby property owners continue to try to contact owners and lobby for improvements.
Joe Smydo: email@example.com or 412-263-1548.