Atlanta

Channel 2 investigations spark new ordinances over city’s demolition process

ATLANTA — Local property owners have come to Channel 2 Action News after their homes were demolished without proper notice, or for sky-high prices.

Now our reporting is getting attention from Atlanta’s City Council.

Channel 2 consumer investigator Justin Gray was at City Hall on Monday where a new proposed ordinance was introduced to help increase transparency in the city’s demolition process.

But the city councilwoman behind it told Gray this is only a first step.

In Everett Tripodis’ case, Code Enforcement sent notices went to the wrong addresses.

Even the demolition hearing notice went to Lawton Avenue, zip code 30314. But Tripodis’ home is on Lawton Street, zip code 30310.

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“The city demolishes the property then sends you a bill for accidentally, or mistakenly, negligently demolishing your house,” Tripodis said.

Andre Hadnot was stuck with a nearly $700,000 lien for a code enforcement demolition of a small two-story West End building.

“You, you know, take a brick and individually blasted off into space? I mean, for $700,000?” Hadnot said.

Both men told their stories in a series of Channel 2 Action News investigations that got the attention of the Atlanta City Council.

“We cannot tolerate that in the city of Atlanta,” said City Councilwoman Andrea Boone, who told Gray that she was disturbed by what we uncovered.

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On Monday, she introduced an ordinance to require all of the meetings of the in-REM board, which orders demolitions, to be broadcast on ATL26, the city’s public TV channel.

But she said that is just the first step

“It’s not a quick fix but it is the beginning of something great for the city of Atlanta. We want everyone to be treated fairly,” Boone said.

Last week, the council presented the results of an audit into the city’s demolition or in-REM process. It found that “certified mail notices are returned unclaimed, and some property owners may be unaware that their property has been referred to the In Rem process.”

“One, we need transparency. Two, we need a new board. We need new eyes, new energy. Some of those board members have been there upwards of 15 years,” Boone said.

The new bill will be voted on in committee next week. But Boone wants to do more.

She and other members of the Public Safety Committee are hoping to change the membership of the five-person in-REM board that makes demolition decisions.

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