Looking to get rid of some rooming houses — as well as the uptick in crime that goes with them — the city approved the purchase of two of them on Wednesday night.
The homes, at 1436 Grace Avenue and 1446 Mars Avenue, are among the last of the city’s boarding houses left in the city.
There are only 11 remaining.
At a special meeting, approved the purchase of both homes in a packaged deal, from Aivars and Anita S. Auzenbergs, for $207,000.
The city used $150,000 from its land acquisition fund, and another approximately $67,000 from the general fund, to pay for the properties.
The city will sell the homes — with new deed restrictions — as single-family homes.
Lakewood Mayor Michael Summers said the city might even turn a profit.
“We’d like to make them great Lakewood houses,” he said. “I’d like to see less rental properties in Lakewood — not more. These are fantastic streets. It’s thrilling when government actually use its authority to rectify what is clearly a problem.”
In the past 10 years, there were more than 200 police calls at both properties, city officials said.
“That’s certainly burdensome on the neighborhoods,” said Lakewood Law Director Kevin Butler. “The use of rooming house is outlawed in the zoning code for a reason. “It’s a use that creates disproportionate heartache and headache in our neighborhoods.”
The home on Mars Avenue was permitted to house eight people at a time. The Grace Avenue boarding house was only allowed six people.
However, Linda McDonough, who’s lived two houses away from the boarding house on Grace Avenue for the past 16 years, said there’s been as many as 20 people at a time.
“The problem is that people are in and out,” she said. “Our issue isn’t with those people at all — we have friends in that building. The issue is that there are some people in that building who cause a lot of problems. There are people who need homes. They deserve the right to live there — but not if they don’t obey the rules.”
McDonough said that without a lease agreement, boarding houses can attract trouble.
“When (boarding houses) were built, they were needed,” she said. “We don’t need them anymore.”