To ramp up efforts to identify derelict buildings all over Guam and issue citations to responsible parties, the Department of Public Works has reached out to the mayors for help.
While the pandemic may have slowed down efforts to clamp down on errant property owners, DPW Director Vince Arriola — in an interview with K57’s Patti Arroyo — said they have already issued the first five citations for abandoned structures in the Tumon area.
Mayor Louise Rivera — who has jurisdiction over Tamuning, Tumon, and Harmon —- said that while they are not tasked to issue the notices, the mayor’s office works collaboratively with DPW in addressing other components of the process.
“I communicate with DPW with regards to these properties but when an actual violation is issued to them, I don’t get a copy of it but we continue to monitor the area and make sure that something is being done about it — you know for safety,” she said on-air.
Arriola said he is about to send a letter to the other village mayors asking for them to take a look at their villages and to come up with a list for Public Works.
He said current property law requires owners to maintain their properties, especially those that are highly visible from public view.
He says that once the government takes an effort to go and clean up the properties — secure them, board them, and fence them up — whatever funds expended for this purpose can be charged to the owner. Basically, a lien gets put up on the property and owners can’t do anything about the property unless that lien is satisfied.
While the initial phase of the project focused on Tumon, they are now making an islandwide effort to check for abandoned property all over Guam.
And once the mayors come up with a list of abandoned structures in their villages, that’s really going to open the floodgates for more citations.
“It’s really not just commercial buildings in the Tumon area, it is buildings everywhere, throughout Tamuning, Agana, Dededo, along Marine Drive and the major routes as well. There are hundreds, if not thousands of abandoned buildings and homes throughout the island,” Arriola said.
In an Islandwide Beautification Task Force meeting, Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio also suggested including the Guam Environmental Protection Agency and Public Health in the project, noting the potential health and environmental hazards posed by these abandoned structures to the community.