Lawmakers call for red “x” removal on vacant homes


You might have seen them before, Red “x’s” on vacant and unsafe buildings but could they be doing more harm than good? Some lawmakers want to ban the signs on these properties throughout the Capital Region.

On a street like this one in South Albany, you see them everywhere. Red “x’s” indicate to first responders that buildings are not safe to enter. Some who want them banned say they give off a bad impression of the neighborhood.

So what do people really think of the signs? NEWS10 ABC’s Lexi Nahl hit the streets with my own red x to find out.

“That it’s decrepit and abandoned.”

“It’s a little run down.”

“Just a lot of poor stuff in the city and stuff like that.”

With responses like these, it’s not difficult to see why Assemblyman John McDonald and some other officials want to “ex out” the “x’s” in Capital Region neighborhoods once and for all.

“For all the good [the X’s] are trying to accomplish, they’ve caused a negative spin on the community and on the neighborhood,” Assemblyman McDonald said.

According to the Albany County Land Bank, they’re more than just unsightly. They say the red “x’s” could be fueling a cycle of economic downturn in some neighborhoods.

“It is kind of like it puts a Scarlett letter on the neighborhood. It discourages people from putting their money whether they’re an investor or a first time home buyer, they’re more likely to be want to be in a neighborhood with less vacant buildings and less red ‘x’s’,” Adam Zaranko, Executive Director of the Albany County Land Bank, said.

Still, their purpose is vital to the safety of first responders.

“The intention is to give first responders that information before they enter a building because we don’t want a police officer or firefighter getting hurt in the course of doing their duty,” Assemblyman McDonald said.

To encourage investment and revitalization in the areas that need it most, they’re suggesting instead is an electronic database of unsafe buildings.

“What would do is just load it into a 911 system that way when the law enforcement or firefighters are called to respond to the property as long as it’s part of the dispatching protocol you go to this property and they say ‘by the way the roof just caved in the stairs are dangerous.’ It’s an alternative way of doing things.”

NEWS10 ABC asked Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple whether the new technology would be feasible.

He says it is but he cautions that not every first responder in every community has access to radios and he just wants to make sure everyone stays safe. 

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