Lakewood to owners of eyesore properties: Clean it up -- or we will and bill you at 12% interest

LAKEWOOD, Wash. -- Wayne Fisher says he's had enough, that he has lived for far too long across the street from a property in extreme disrepair on Boat Street Southwest.

"You come up here with all these people walking around all the times of the night and day and dogs barking and carrying on all the time, it's just not good,” Fisher said Monday.

The city of Lakewood agrees and plans to tear down the buildings and clear the lot beginning Wednesday.

"There's debris, there's glass, there's hypodermic needles, there's actually been a lot of drug activity on the property,” Lakewood Department of Community Development planner Jeff Gumm said.

The city says there’s a property on Washington Boulevard Southwest that needs to be cleaned up, too.

"I've seen people come and go out of it and I know there was a fire recently there. That potentially could've harmed other neighbors in the area if wouldn't have been put out,” neighbor Teresa Jolibois said.

The city is also monitoring a property on Military Road Southwest -- and neighbors couldn't be happier.

"We've just been waiting and hoping that they would just tear it down. It's just been not a good place to have next door,” neighbor Paul Beakman said.

Lakewood is taking steps to clean up neighborhoods as part of its neighborhood abatement program.

"The abatement program specifically focuses on dangerous properties, nuisance properties, properties that the property owners haven't maintained,” Gumm said.

The process is simple.

There is a complaint about a property, the owner is notified, a hearing is held.

If the owner doesn't clean up, an abatement order is signed, the city does the cleanup, and then the property owner is billed at 12% interest.

"It's good. I'm glad to hear that. I didn't even know they were doing that,” Beakman said.

Lakewood is aggressive with its abatement program because the belief is it instills a sense of neighborhood pride, spurs new development and new home ownership. All in all, they say, it just makes neighborhoods better.