Mayor's Corner: New Tools For Keeping Our Properties Maintained

Lakewood is known for how much effort we put into ensuring that the quality of our homes and buildings are maintained. Our Division of Building and Housing takes the lead on this important work, which is essential to keeping people safe and to keeping our city an attractive place to live. We think proactive action is key in this effort, and we at City Hall are in constant conversation on how to stay one step ahead on ensuring the quality of Lakewood’s buildings.

A helpful tool over time for assessing and improving the quality of housing in Lakewood has been the regular housing survey performed by our city inspectors. The success of this program and our focus on continuous improvement has led us to create a new commercial survey program that the City will pilot this fall and then roll out in full in 2023.

Our building and housing team visually inspects the exterior condition of over 12,000 homes on a three-year rotating basis, but we also have over 1,500 commercial structures within our borders. Prior to this year, there was never a formal survey process to assess the condition of those commercial buildings. In the next 30 days, our inspectors will begin this effort with a limited survey in Lakewood’s downtown district, rating the exterior conditions of buildings on a 1-to-4 point scale. A score of 1 means the building has no exterior code violations, while a 4 is “significant disrepair” with multiple major violations.

Once the external surveys are complete, Building and Housing will follow up with corrections notices for buildings rated 3 or 4, with a time frame for completion included. Buildings with serious violations on the exterior may require interior inspections to ensure safety. Our overarching goals in this effort are to protect the public, maintain the quality of buildings in our city, and help building owners understand and meet expectations. While there are occasions where more serious action has to take place with building owners, the City’s approach is to be firm in our expectations and to make sure the building code is adhered to, we also do our best to assist and guide our owners, most of whom are high quality Lakewood stakeholders.

So, if you see one of our city team outside a commercial building in the future, it is very likely that they are involved in the survey process. (You will also see them outside your home at least once every three years for the residential survey process). The results of the survey will be uploaded to our online GIS system that shows conditions of properties in Lakewood. This has been a helpful tool in analyzing the overall state of our buildings over time.

Earlier this year, the team at City Hall also developed a new ordinance that requires owners of buildings over four stories tall and more than 30 years old (as well as owners of parking structures) to have a structural engineer regularly issue an expert report on building conditions. This legislation was another proactive effort by the City of Lakewood to make sure commercial buildings are kept in safe condition.

We love our historic character in Lakewood, but we also realize that as buildings age, there is an even greater need to be focused on maintenance. We are excited to leverage both this new legislation and our new commercial building survey to keep our commercial buildings in top shape, our citizens safe, and our city a beautiful place to live, work, and visit.

Volume 18, Issue 19, Posted 12:38 PM, 09.21.2022