Trespass law would help combat blight

When Warren neighborhood groups held board-up days during which they canvassed neighborhoods and secured abandoned, blighted property, the question of trespassing always hung over the efforts.

Passage of ”blighted property revitalization” legislation that will resurface in the General Assembly this year would alleviate that concern.

State Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, said he would re-introduce the legislation, which is endorsed by the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative. The bill, first introduced in April 2011, excludes individuals who enter abandoned or blighted property from trespassing charges if their purpose is remediation.

The bill also excludes property owners from civil liability to trespassers.

To prevent vagrants from using the properties and hiding behind this legislation, another highlight of the bill is that it would apply only to those entering buildings during daylight hours.

While Schiavoni is mostly concerned with Youngstown, a city in his district that is plagued with about 4,000 abandoned houses, these adjustments in Ohio’s trespassing rules would greatly benefit Warren, which also has a large percentage of its housing stock in a state of abandoned disrepair. There are approximately 1,300 abandoned structures in Warren.

The legislature should pass Schiavoni’s bill.