Kern County supervisors are right on target with their plan to create an easily accessible database designed to ensure that owners of foreclosed and abandoned properties can be forced to maintain and secure their properties.
A cursory drive through parts of Bakersfield and Kern County readily shows the extent of the problem some neighborhoods are facing from neglect. Some properties are occupied by squatters and drug users. Some have been vandalized, stripped of virtually everything from doors to windows. Others are blighted with graffiti and overgrown with weeds.
The impact on residents of neighboring properties can be demoralizing. People worry about the value of their own homes, their family's safety, other property such as cars and recreational vehicles, and the inevitable associated crime.
The supervisors believe, and we concur, that the owners of those properties, whether they are banks or individuals, should be responsible for maintaining, cleaning and securing what they own. The problem, it seems, is in locating those owners, especially absentee owners. Chuck Lackey, the county's engineering, survey and permit services director, summed up the difficulty Tuesday: "The corporate office for some bank in New York doesn't help me."
A simplified database that would enable the county to contact owners, whether they are banks with offices out of Kern County or individual owners here at home, seems like a reasonable tool, assuming of course, that compliance is followed with enforcement.