“Operation Red” is a program introduced by Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto in November and passed by Council on December 11th which will give the City a powerful new tool to fight blight. The legislation works by shaming the worst landlords in the City by erecting large signs in front of up to 10 properties whose owners have received multiple BBI citations and Housing Court convictions but have not yet taken steps to fix the problems. The program eliminates the owner’s anonymity by displaying their name, telephone number, and home address on the signs at the blighted properties. Additionally, the names and contact information of chronic offenders will be broadcast on the City’s cable channel.
“Operation Red” revives a temporary pilot program by former Pittsburgh Councilman Dan Cohen from 1998. That program was based on one started in 1997 in Framingham, Massachusetts. It has a long track record of success in pushing property owners to pay their fines, repair their buildings and clean up their act. Pittsburgh’s bill was co-sponsored by Councilor Natalia Rudiak and passed by a 7-1 vote.
From Councilman Peduto:
“For far too long problem property owners who often don’t even live in the City have gotten off with just a slap on the wrist – even with dangerous building code violations that could become serious public safety issues. Framingham’s program, and Pittsburgh’s pilot program in the late ‘90s, showed us that once these property owners know that they can no longer remain anonymous all of a sudden the problems disappear. It’s time for us to put some real teeth behind our property maintenance laws.”
You can view video of a WPXI News story on “Operation Red” here.