The OIG is authorized to comment on rules, regulations, policies, and transactions for the purpose of preventing fraud, waste, and abuse in order to promote effective and efficient government. As detailed in the Plaza Tower and Enforcement of the Minimum Property Maintenance Code letter released today, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) examined the Division of Code Enforcement’s efforts to mitigate the safety hazards posed by the condition of the privately-owned property located at 1001 Howard Avenue, commonly known as the Plaza Tower. The OIG did not review the City’s response to blight in general.
The OIG found that the City has not effectively used the power granted to it in the Minimum Property Maintenance Code (Code) to hold the owners of the Plaza Tower accountable for the conditions of the property. Despite the building’s obvious state of disrepair, there were no fines issued by the Division of Code Enforcement and no administrative hearings to address the conditions of the property between 2015 and 2021, when a piece of debris fell and injured a bicyclist. Instead, the City has hesitated to fine the owners of the Plaza Tower, citing the economic value of the property and the effect the fines may have on a potential sale.