Skip to main content

Today's Poll: Should the city prevent some landlords from buying foreclosed properties?

By Howard B. Owens
Karen Miconi

While I believe habitual code violators, should be sent a message, this should be the case for Not Just "Landlords", but "Home/Land Owners", in the City of Batavia alike. Demonizing landlords and renters is getting old. I know for a fact there are homeowners, in the city, who have also violated codes, over and over.
If City Council is going to splash this mans name across the Batavian, and the Daily News, defame his charector, they better be prepared to do the same for ALL, including Private Homeowners!! "Whats good for the Goose, is Good for the Gander". So, how about a list of ALL violators? Put a monthly list in the paper. Yes, I forgot to bring my garbage can in Monday night......
I also am wondering how only "certain people" are privy to the "List of Forclosers", buy up these properties, way before anyone else gets the chance, while Im sure, there are others that would have jumped at the chance. Its about growth right? Getting people to buy up and redevelop stale properties, and turn them into homes, futures, right?
I would hate to think its about "WHO YOU KNOW" in this town, and not a FAIR Balance. If your going to enforce, and embarass, you have to be fair. Every city and town has a code enforcement officer, so lets not try and blame Landlords, for the reason you had to hire one. I see a gray cloud of question, over the mall.......

Feb 9, 2010, 9:33am Permalink
John Roach

"Certain people" are privy to the "List of Foreclosures" because they do their homework. They check the paper, they check at City Hall.

You could do the same if you wanted, but nobody is going to do it for you. The secret here is personal motivation.

Feb 9, 2010, 9:00am Permalink
Karen Miconi

Come On John, you know Im right. Its like pulling teeth to get that info, but so much easier to keep the info under wraps, and monopolize the market. PS. you know nothing of my motivations, or life so please dont make this personal.

Feb 9, 2010, 9:10am Permalink
John Roach

No, I don't know you're right.

Once in awhile I check on what is being put up for auction. I have no intention of buying, but sometimes I like knowing. If I can do it, anyone can.

This fantasy that you have to know somebody is silly. Get up, go to City Hall, ask when the next auction is scheduled, and what properties are being sold. It is really that easy.

The hard part comes later; getting the money, the lawyer, and everything that goes alone with buying property.

Feb 9, 2010, 9:13am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Karen, by law the list of foreclosures are publicly available and easy to get for anybody who asks. There's nothing hidden. The list is also published, by law, in the Daily News.

Also, I don't know the landlord in question, and it's debatable how serious 13 infractions over seven years on five properties really are -- but the fact is, that's 13 infractions over seven years that are public record and some people may consider that a serious list of infractions and want to know about it.

Feb 9, 2010, 9:15am Permalink
Richard Gahagan

So "the city" can control what property a private citizen can own? What do they do now? Select the person or people who they think would be "good" property owners. Seems to me if your good friends with elected officals and do enough butt kissin you could be the Donald Trump of Batavia and develop a kingdom of run down homes.

Feb 9, 2010, 9:33am Permalink
John Roach

This has been in the City Code for many years. The city always had the right to control who could buy CITY property, not private property. And this is not the first time this has been done.

Remember, Dr. M. Chess wanted to buy the foreclosed property where City Hall is now, so that he could expand his medical practice, which is located in the Mall. He was denied, three times.

Maybe the code should be changed to allow anyone to buy City property being sold at auction, as long as they are the highest bidder. But nobody has Council member suggested that yet.

Feb 9, 2010, 9:47am Permalink
Karen Miconi

Exactly Richard! Case in point, The Southside of the Sandwash. It is now a personal "RESORT" for the man that bought it. (Whom I might add, I have nothing against him or his son). I just missed that sale, and think its a Beautiful, pristine body of water, and beach. I am sad that the public cant access it and enjoy it. I also believe it is worth alot more money, than it was sold for.
Back to the 13 infractions, in 7 years, on 5 properties. If you break it up, its not so earth shattering. Is it my understanding that the gentleman complied with the city, and fixed the problems. Why was he singled out as an Example then? You cant just decide, out of the blue to make an example out of someone, especially when you hold a city position. This isnt school. Whats next? A Dunce Cap, and a bit in the town square?? I think there should have been a meeting, and vote, before council decided to personally attack this man. Very Unprofessional.

Feb 9, 2010, 9:49am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Richard, there is a real question as to whether the government should be taking people's property for unpaid taxes.

But getting beyond that, the city becomes just another seller. You don't have to sell to me and I don't have to sell to you. No seller is under any obligation in a free market to sell to anybody.

Feb 9, 2010, 9:54am Permalink
bud prevost

Joe- you are just recognizing the marxist tendencies that every municipality in NYS possesses?
I will say, if the property is "city" property, then they can sell it to whom ever they wish. When this person was denied, an explaination was given as to why. If he had just flatly been denied, with no justification, THEN we have an issue.

Feb 9, 2010, 9:59am Permalink
Charlie Mallow

Karen, the problem with open government is that it is open. They can’t hold a secret meeting to decide what they will talk about at their next meeting.

I’m also not so sure that a lot of these properties are the deal they look to be. I bought my house in a HUD auction 12 years ago and I’m still pouring money into it. I would have been far better off buying a house that didn’t need so much work.

Feb 9, 2010, 10:09am Permalink
Debbie Paine

While the knee-jerk response to this poll would be "YES - of course we should prevent slumlords from buying up foreclosed properties!" there are other considerations here.
First, Howard is correct that the seriousness of the infractions over the specified time is debateable. My employer owns a couple of properties, and I consider them very consciencious landlords. They has been cited for the most minor infractions, with at least 2 involving tenants leaving furniture at the curb, where they had hoped someone might come along and pick it up. I'm also aware of resident homeowners cited for sagging gutters and for having peeling paint on garage doors.
So there's a good possibility Mr. Pullinzi was a victim of the code facists twice; first by being cited for one of the petty violations mentioned above (which he corrected in a timely and satisfactory manner), and then again when due to these code citations he was denied a property in spite of being the highest bidder. An aura of deceit is created when a decision such as this is taken with no precedent or procedure to warrant it. (I am curious who had the second highest bid).

Failed government at its most blatant.

Feb 9, 2010, 10:30am Permalink
Deborah Pappalardo

Wow! Last time I checked, we live in the United States Of America. Although, more and more each day, I'm starting to not recognize her. It seems to me that most of you people need a reality check. It would be unconstitutional to deny a person to his/her right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Owning rental property is a business. And, with that come all the problems that a business can go through. How many of you have ever run a business? It's not easy. The bigger a company gets the more chance of operational problems occurring. S@#t happens. Granted, some landlords/property owners fall short on certain responsibilities and they do so, over and over again. So, there should be consequences (fines) to deter such repeated violations. But, how would you like it if just a handful of people at your job constantly judged your performance at work and as a result dicided that you didn't do it to their liking and you weren't allowed to ever work in that city doing that type of job EVER AGAIN? Don't think that it could never come to that or that it would never happen to you. This city is full of frogs in boiling water whose ignorance is everyone's punishment.

Feb 9, 2010, 10:32am Permalink
John Roach

Agree or not with the vote, there is precedent and procedure for this.

Precedent: I mentioned that the City did this with Dr. Chess, the high bidder 3 times on foreclosed property, and they still would not let him buy it to expand his medical practice.

Procedure: It is in the City Code.

Feb 9, 2010, 11:07am Permalink
Karen Miconi

Deb's I Love your expressive writing styles, and couldn't have said it better(though I Try). Debates like this are what keep me glued to the Batavian at times. Everyones Imput is important. There are legitimate citizens, with Legitimate points.
I also would like to know if the "Family and Children", were considered, when the city council publicly announced this gentleman's name. I hope there is no Backlash to the family, from this public humiliantion.

Feb 9, 2010, 11:17am Permalink
Deborah Pappalardo

John: How much property do you own Mr. Roach? Can you even be objective about this? Whether, or not, The City has "a code" to give them the right to control who could buy city property doesn't make it constitutionally legal. Town and City governments all over this country have had codes and laws that were unconstitutonal and not changed until someone called them out on it. As far as I'm concerned THIS needs to be one of those callings. 13 violations in 7 years on 5 properties isn't a lot. I, as a landlord, have had violations for my grass being an inch higher than the city allowed, for furniture being left at the curb by a vacating tenant and one or two more equally as ridiculous. The City has too much power and they gain more and more everyday as the result of its complacent citizens. There is an unfair advantage here on so may levels. If we give the city more rope they'll hang US with it. Wake up!

Feb 9, 2010, 11:12am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Karen, the council, during its discussion, was careful not to use the man's name.

It was, however, in the resolution. And even if it wasn't, I would have demanded it. It's public record, as well as it should be. Things are public record for a reason. There are all kinds of reasons why the community should know this man's name to fairly judge the situation.

Deborah, I fail to see how this is unconstitutional. As I said before, I'm under no obligation to sell to you, nor you to me. Same with the city. Once they legally acquired the property (whether that legality is right or not), the city has every right constitutionally to decide to sell to or not, so long as it's done by established laws and open to the public.

Feb 9, 2010, 11:19am Permalink
John Roach

Sorry to disappoint you, but I only own my home. I do not own any other property here or anyplace else.

And I didn't say the code was right, just that there is a code.

I also spoke out against the City when Dr. Chess was denied, so I am not taking sides here. But I am keeping the record straight.

1) Anyone can find out when and what property is for sale by the city if they bother to.

2) This has been done before.

3) It's been in the City Code for years.

If you don't like it, then show up at a Council meeting and say so.

Feb 9, 2010, 11:34am Permalink
C. M. Barons

Posted by bud prevost on February 9, 2010 - 9:59am

Joe- you are just recognizing the marxist tendencies that every municipality in NYS possesses?
I will say, if the property is "city" property, then they can sell it to whom ever they wish. When this person was denied, an explaination was given as to why. If he had just flatly been denied, with no justification, THEN we have an issue.


I assume you are referring to eminent domain as a "marxist tendency?"

Marx proposed to overcome man's alienation- not collect back taxes or make room for a parking lot. Hegelian Ludwig Feuerbach wrote The Essence of Christianity that promoted the idea of "God" as an invention by humans. In conceiving God in same image, man had "alienated himself from himself." Man could not survive self-contrast to a divine self-image, in so-doing was reduced to a lowly, evil creature dependent on church and laws to guide and control him. If religion were abolished, Feuerbach claimed, human beings would overcome their alienation.

Marx blamed the plague of alienation on private property ownership. Being self-contained caused humans to work only for themselves, not for the good of their species. His Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 elaborated on social and economic alienation. He called for a communist society to overcome the dehumanizing effect of private property.

I do believe that ransoming an individual's home for taxes is immoral. It has nothing to do with socialist philosophy.

Feb 9, 2010, 12:00pm Permalink
Julie A Pappalardo

Are the Powers That Be in 14020 from outer space?????

Am I going to need a membership card to get into City auctions now? Is there a test?

Let me see if I understand this:

Apparently, in the City of Batavia, the City Council decides WHO gets to buy City property at PUBLIC AUCTION??? Since when can one re-nig on a winning bidder?? This guy WON fair and square. The City should TAKE THE $$$ and RUN, then if the guy doesn't keep his property up, FINE HIM!! DUH...this would actually MAKE $ for the City...THEN they could LOWER OUR TAXES, so us landlords could actually MAKE some $ and improve our properties (imagine THAT)

Over 50% of property in Batavia is owned by LANDLORDS!!! The economy SUCKS. We cannot raise our rents because there are NO JOBS that pay a decent wage here. At the same time the City keeps raising our taxes...raising our water rates, and I won't even get into insurance! If it weren’t for the LANDLORDS in this town, over 50% of the houses in the City would be abandoned and boarded up!

The City keeps giving violations for DUMB things...for example: I had a tenant move out a few months back. She was in the middle of moving and put a rug on the porch cause the truck was full. Well, a few days later, I get a violation in the mail about it. That rug literally was out there for MAYBE 6 hours at most. How much is it costing the taxpayers to send out these letters for DUMB things like that?? Not to mention, I have received several "violation letters" for OTHER PEOPLE"S PROPERTY!!!! Am I going to get "blacklisted" for that, and be left out of the City auctions? Where does this end? Can the City then decide who can buy property in the first place????

Is the gentleman who just got SMEARED on the front page of the paper going to sue the City??? Cause I'm SURE the taxpayers are going to love to spend tax money on defending the City in a lawsuit that never should have happened! This could (and prolly will) be VERY costly for the taxpayers!!

I am embarrassed for the people who call themselves "Republicans" would even THINK about voting for something like this! SICKENING

Howard: Sorry, while I agree with the fact that one doesn’t have to sell something to someone in a private sale. Auctions are different! I wonder what would happen at Christie’s Auction in NY if say some seller puts up their prized Ferrari for auction. The car goes up and it turns out that the winning bidder is some guy who crashed a Ferrari at some event somewhere. Now the seller doesn’t want to sell his prized car to the guy and bails on the deal??? No WAY! THAT’S NOT ALLOWED.

Feb 9, 2010, 12:33pm Permalink
Deborah Pappalardo

Mr. Owens: Did I read somewhere, you call yourself a Libertarian? Hmmm. Well, in the private sector, no, you are not obligated to sell to me. This isn't about whether you want to sell me your grandmother's antique solid, handmade dining table that I want to use for firewood. It's about:

This was an AUCTION: Pronunciation: \ˈȯk-shən\
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin auction-, auctio, from augēre to increase — more at eke
Date: 1595
1 : a sale of property to the highest bidder

Held by THE CITY: the government of a specific local area constituting a subdivision of a major political unit (as a nation or state); also : the body of persons constituting such a government.

And in no way should our local government do ANYTHING in private, disqualify a tax paying citizen from said aution, nor, should our local government put only people of their choice, who might further any agenda they may have, into forclosed property. That screams conflict of interest to me. As I understand it their reasons for denying this man were not really weighed out. The punishment didn't fit the crime, so to speak. Now, if all his property was in a near condemned state with constant illeagal and dangerous activity going on then, opt to deny him.

The constitution was written to protect the people from those who govern them prohibiting the culling of their rights. As stated in the preamble the constitution secured the blessings of "liberty" to us, our offspring and future generations and in that, the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges. This is certainly economic. Owning rental property is a way for some in Batavia to earn a living. To me, earning a living falls into the that category. And, if you don't understand the magnitude of the city's decision and how it contradicts what our constitution stands for then there is nothing more I need say to you, sir.

Feb 9, 2010, 2:32pm Permalink
Deborah Pappalardo

Mr. Roach:

My questions to you were rhetorical. And, I'm not sure how much The Batavian needs someone policing to "keep the record straight" but I, for one, certainly don't need someone to tell me that if I don't approve of the code that I can show up for a meeting. I am very well aware of my options (the few that they are) and will exercise those options accordingly. That's all.

Feb 9, 2010, 2:44pm Permalink
John Roach

I understand your point, but this was not done in private. It was at an open Council meeting. It was clear from the debate between the members that all 9 Council members had given this a lot of consideration.

And, after all the give and take here, most of the people polled on this site support what took place.

Feb 9, 2010, 2:51pm Permalink
Deborah Pappalardo

I don't care how many people who were polled agreed. Popular opinion should not dictate in this case. Try and liken this to something in your personal life that would equate. Apples to apples. Let's look at your work history over the last 7 years. How many times were you late, took a longer break than you were supposed to, called in sick, didn't meet a deadline or any other of the numerous "infractions" that if your company wanted to, they could use against you and keep you from earning your chosen living in your city. And, what if some of those infractions weren't as a result of something that you did or didn't do directly? It's absurd. There are laws keeping your employer from just firing you. And, even if you were fired you can still go out and get the same job in the same city at another company. What I'm saying here is that the people of this city need to look past their initial thoughts on the matter and try and project where this can lead. I'm prety much done discussing this on this board.

Feb 9, 2010, 3:21pm Permalink
Bea McManis

Posted by John Roach on February 9, 2010 - 2:51pm
And, after all the give and take here, most of th people polled on this site support what took place.

Not true.
Even Deborah would agree that the city should restrict someone who habitually keep their property in disrepair from purchasing additional property.
The question didn't address the current situation.
"should a bidder with few violations and who has made repairs, be made the scrapegoat for all of the landlords who neglect their property?"
"should the council prohibit landlords, with poor records, to BID on property?"
The point is that the council had other means to exclude those they didn't feel should have access to more property. Their choice of method was flawed.

Feb 9, 2010, 3:29pm Permalink
Richard Gahagan

Now wait, just take a look at that house on willow street. It doesn't matter who buys it, its a dump and will always be a dump. The whole neighborhood is a dump. If the city really wants to improve these neighborhoods they should bull doze the dumps down and sell the land to someone to build new neighborhoods.

Feb 9, 2010, 3:37pm Permalink
Bea McManis

The house right next to that one was owned by my ex's aunt and uncle. The outside was small, like most of those homes, but the inside was lovely.
Putting down an entire neighborhood is wrong. Pay attention to Texas and leave Batavia to us who live here.

Feb 9, 2010, 3:43pm Permalink
Dave Marien

Should the City/ County/ State/ Fed's (our Government)be able prohibit someone from buying a car if they have some parking tickets?

Feb 9, 2010, 3:54pm Permalink
Richard Gahagan

Bea, regardless of the sentimental value some of these homes may have, landlords are in the rental business to make money. They do that by spending as little as they can to make a place livable and then find someone willing to pay them rent. That house will be a dump forever no matter who owns it. The neighborhood will never improve until, yep you guessed it, some one brings in a bulldozer.

Feb 9, 2010, 4:05pm Permalink
Deborah Pappalardo

Oh my! Mr. Marien! Too funny. But, a good question. As elementary as it may be it certainly puts this into proper perspective.

Feb 9, 2010, 4:08pm Permalink
Brian Schollard

Seems like the overwhelming majority of people support what the city council did.
A lot of fault is in the hands of not only bad tenants but bad landlords. My in laws once lived next to rental property owned by a non city resident. The back yard was in such a state of squalor the you could not sit out side on the back porch because of the smell. Luckily they were able to sell the house and move to another street. The rental property has since been cleaned up. I see absolutely no problem with denying an habitual offender of obtaining more property to let go to disrepair just to make money from rental. The last thing Batavia needs is the problems of Buffalo or Rochester with several ( over 800 at one time ) hundred vacant deplorable properties that turn could into a crack house.

Feb 9, 2010, 4:55pm Permalink
Bea McManis

Don't bidders have to show good faith to bid on public property? That they actually have the funds to transact business?
If so, then why not have a list of "offenders" who will not qualify to bid on property. It would eliminate the need to accept a bid then refuse it because the person is an undesirable landlord. Far less drama.

Feb 9, 2010, 6:28pm Permalink
Julie Morales

“Seems like the overwhelming majority of people support what the city council did.”

That’s not the poll question I read, or the one to which I responded.

The actual poll question: “Should the city prevent landlords with history of code violations from buying foreclosed properties at auction?” did not ask about supporting the city council decision regarding a specific auction of a specific property.

“If the city really wants to improve these neighborhoods they should bull doze the dumps down and sell the land to someone to build new neighborhoods.”

Yeah, let’s do that, right now! (Note blatant sarcasm.)

People live in those neighborhoods; people who would probably prefer that their homes were not bulldozed. That remark was inflammatory and cruel. But you knew that, didn’t you?

Feb 9, 2010, 6:41pm Permalink
Karen Miconi

So John, were these propertys sold at "PUBLIC" auction or by the "City of Batavia"?? If PUBLIC, the city council overstepped their boundries. If the City sold them, then what was stated on here( That City Council has little, or nothing, to do with the sales of properties in the city),is not true either. What were the infractions, issued to the gentleman and his properties, that were so bad they warrented such a responce. Im assuming from the looks of it, Pretty Serious right?

Feb 9, 2010, 7:21pm Permalink
John Roach

The city ends up with property, usually due to non payment of taxes.

The City Council authorizes the sale of the properties.

They are then put up for sale. As you should know now, that information is public if you are interested in buying.

After the bids are opened, Council is told the price and buyers.

Then the sale is brought back to Council for a vote to accept or reject the bids. So, Council did not "overstep their boudnries". And, it's been this way for decades.

The infractions or violations where not itemized at the meeting. All the Council members had a copy of them and they are public record. I have no idea if the Daily News or the Batavian asked for a copy.

If you are really that interested, you could call your Council member and ask him or her what they are.

Feb 9, 2010, 7:40pm Permalink
Dave Olsen

Julie Pappalardo; you wrote:"Over 50% of property in Batavia is owned by LANDLORDS!!!", I'm just curious how you arrived at that.
Richard; some people buy property for investment purposes and rent them out to make the mortgage and tax payments while the equity builds. Those landlords would fix them beyond just the minimum condition for renting, will continue maintenance and are vested in keeping the neighborhood up, wouldn't you think? Sure, some are slumlords, but not all.

Feb 9, 2010, 7:46pm Permalink
Karen Miconi

Brian I find it amazing how some of you love to play the Blame Game, and blame the citys problems on renters and landlords. There are homeowners who are slobs as well. To not include them is rubbish and prejiduce. There is never anything Plainly Written, when it comes to city officials, and city politics. Just Smoke and Mirrors, favoritizm, and hidden agendas.
Remember this is just my opinion, one voice, in thousands.

Feb 10, 2010, 8:04am Permalink
John Roach

The code for sale of property is very plain. But private homeowners and renters do not come under the code in question.

But, you are right to a point.

The real blame, in my opinion, is with Councilman Ferrando who held up for 4 years a "Slum Lord Control Law". He had the votes to sit on it for years.

Even now, after months, we still do not have the "new" version being worked on.

If this had been done 4 years ago, as proposed, none of this would have happened.

And if you notice, Mr. Ferrando still wants to stall on doing anything.

Feb 10, 2010, 10:58am Permalink
Karen Miconi

John, thank you for your responce. Its more than I can say for most of the city's officials. No matter what, you always try to offer a logical explanation. I dont care what it is about, you get involved. You seem to me to have a passion for politics, and a love for your community. Even though I might not always agree with you, I really appreciate that John.
There's more to council, than meets the eye. I believe I see a wedge between members,(non-productive). There are the ones, with nothing but good intentions(that are powerless), and the Ego-maniacs, that think they know all. I Cant Stand people with a CHIP on their shoulder!! Why didn't you run for something bigger last year? The garden needs weeding BigTime!

Feb 10, 2010, 7:10pm Permalink
terry paine

I think it's time to give props to all the landlords in this city. If it's a fact (and I believe it is)that 50% of the houses are rentals, then I believe the large majority of the landlords do a excellent job of keeping their properties up, considerng the extremely small return they get for owning these properties. This area, as well as most of the state, is so economically OPPRESSED they would surely be better off investing their money elsewhere. Between the almost 0 appreciation of property in this area, the high property and school tax rate, and the ridiculous depreciation rules, owning rental property here has to be a barely break even investment.

Feb 10, 2010, 6:01pm Permalink

Authentically Local