PARMA -- The city of Parma has a new way to deal with problem properties: tickets for the owners who let things fall apart.
"I think it's a good rule. If you let your property values go down, you don't cut the grass, you don't paint, it just makes the whole neighborhood look crappy," said Nick Zandes, who lives near the north end.
"It may be another house on another street, and it just affects everybody," said Zandes.
"It is sad, that I take care of my yard, my windows, my siding, landscaping and other yards are looking like crap basically," said Stacey Peck-Dusman of Parma.
Under a new program approved this summer by City Council and in effect Monday, building inspectors have the power to cite the owners of those rundown residences as much as $150.
Citations can be written for overgrown grass, unregistered or junk cars on the property or excess trash and debris.
"What we're trying to do is address those chronic, neglected properties, folks that just don't get the message," said Mayor Tim DeGeeter. "You can pay the fine, or you can waive it and go have your day in court."
The program is a new tool -- the previous system required a summons for a court appearance.
Now it's three strikes with citations and then an owner is required back in the courtroom, facing increasingly stiff fines and even jail time.
The fourth violation is bumped up to a fourth-degree misdemeanor with a maximum $1000 fine and 180 days behind bars.
"It will address those nuisance properties right away, with the hope that, long term, they'll get the message when that first ticket comes out," said Assistant Building Commissioner Don Graves.
The goal for Parma is not to raise money but to create a cleaner curb appeal to bring new residents to Ohio's seventh largest city.
"I think they need to get the neighborhood in a better condition, and I'm glad that they are doing this, that way we can get more people," said Peck-Dusman.
Owners with special circumstances, like the elderly, will be considered on a case-by-case basis and offered help.
People can also nominate their neighboring outstanding properties for recognition from the city.