Landlords of problem properties on hot seat
Businessman Edward Franco of Randolph became the poster child for Boston’s crackdown on landlords of high-crime buildings yesterday when Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino began a public campaign to compel him to stem the tide of trouble at his property, starting with a press conference outside his triple-decker at 102 Blue Hill Ave.
The Roxbury address has been the scene of 105 police calls and 14 alleged serious criminal complaints since May 2010, including drugs, weapons and assault cases.
“As a responsible landlord, you know what’s going on in your property,” said Menino yesterday. “This guy’s totally irresponsible. A hundred and five calls? That’s wrong.”
Similar to a program started in Quincy earlier this year, Boston police have assigned a special detail to the house and have installed a digital sign in front of the house to let passers-by know about criminal activity at the triple-decker and display the mayor’s 24-hour crime hot line.
Franco, who could not be reached for comment, will be held accountable for the cost of the detail, the city said.
In addition to the troubled triple-decker, Franco owns 16 other properties in the city assessed at more than $6 million. A spokesman for Menino said Franco’s other properties are being reviewed for the number of visits they have received from police.
This is not Franco’s first run-in with the law. The Herald reported in 1994 that then-Acting Commissioner of Banks Thomas J. Curry demanded Franco’s resignation from Boston Check Cashers Inc. for misdemeanor violations of federal currency reporting laws.
Franco, who the state also lists as the president of Fast Eddie’s Pizza and Subs from 1991 to 1998, has made several donations over the past decade to local politicians, including Gov. Deval Patrick and former Boston City Councilor Sam Yoon.
Boston’s problem property plan, which Menino expects the city to approve next week, is identical to one passed by the Quincy City Council in April, said Mayor Thomas Koch’s office.
City Councilor Brian Palmucci, who proposed the idea in Quincy, said the mere threat that police will park a cruiser in front of a landlord’s apartment building for 24 hours a day and then bill them for it, has been a deterrent.
“With the threat of the ordinance we’ve been able to gain compliance from the slumlords to clean up problem properties in the neighborhoods,” Palmucci said.
Boston Police Superintendent in Chief Daniel Linskey said this action should work to clean up problem properties in the Hub.
“With a detail outside the home, the officers on duty are doing bigger and better things,” he said. “It’s the little things that turn into big things that this will address. It’s the drug deal that turns into a robbery, then the guns and the knives come out.”