Reed says he'll come after absentee landowners

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said Monday his staff is working on guidelines to fight against absentee landowners who let their property fall into disrepair.

"We're going to raise the fines. We're going to take the property as appropriate. We're going to clear the property and create more greenspace," Reed said at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

The remarks -- directed at property owners who live outside the city or state -- came during the civic group Park Pride's 9th annual Parks & Greenspace conference.

Last year, the city tore down about 40 homes that had been abandoned or were in such bad shape that they needed to be demolished, Reed said. However, the mayor estimated there are thousands of vacant homes "damaging communities" because vagrants live in them or have been places to dump abandoned tires or garbage.

Reed, who took office in January, said he wanted reassure attendees that he was committed to the Beltline project and that his administration would not back away from providing more greenspace in the city. About 4 percent of Atlanta's land mass is greenspace, a smaller percentage than most major American cities, Park Pride found in a report it completed last year.

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