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Phoenix goes plastic to put blight out of sight

Phoenix is trading plywood for plastic in its fight against blight.

With a recently-passed ordinance, the city has become one of the first in the country to ban the use of plywood for boarding up vacant properties. Instead, city officials are turning to polycarbonate sheets to make those vacant properties appear a little less vacant.

Phoenix City Councilwoman Kate Gallego said the plastic window coverings will not only keep neighborhoods looking pleasant, but will also help detract from vandals or other criminal activity in those neighborhoods.

Like many other cities around the country, Phoenix saw a rise in abandoned properties during the recession, when foreclosures forced many occupants to walk away from their homes. In addition to becoming potential eyesores in their communities, Realtor Diane Brennan said unattended homes can affect home values in surrounding neighborhoods and raise uncertainties in a potential buyer’s mind.

“If it looks unkempt and boarded up, then yes it can bring property values down,” she said, adding potential buyers may judge an entire neighborhood or subdivision on an obviously vacant house.

The new ordinance calls for polycarbonate installations on houses that have been abandoned for more than 90 days. Other cities around the country are also considering similar measures that will help mask the emptiness of vacant properties and make them more desirable for resale.

Although lightweight and transparent in design, polycarbonate sheet plastic is durable and virtually unbreakable, offering a more secure barrier to entry for abandoned properties.

Polycarbonate is also about three times more costly than plywood but city leaders believe the benefits will outweigh the costs in the long run.

Join Realtor Diane Brennan for That Real Estate Show Sundays at 8 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM.