On the day before the Los Angeles City Council voted on a set of amendments to strengthen the city’s Foreclosure Registry Ordinance, community members and L.A. city sanitation workers delivered bags of trash from a vacant foreclosed home to a bank that’s one of L.A.’s largest holders of vacant foreclosed properties, Bank of New York Mellon.

Describing horrendous conditions, including missing fences and doors, graffiti, broken windows, overgrown weeds and mounds of trash, local residents insisted that the bank “clean up or pay up” and stop ignoring city laws requiring proper upkeep. The group estimates that the bank owes $4.7 million in fines and $253,425 in unpaid registration fees to the city for failure to comply with the ordinance.

On Wednesday, the City Council voted 14-0 to approve a set of amendments designed to improve the city’s ability to enforce the law, including an increase in the registration fee to cover the cost of property inspection and the creation of a more efficient enforcement and reporting system.

“These banks are devastating our communities, and the city and the taxpayers are covering the cost,” said ACCE member and South L.A. neighborhood activist Angelina Jimenez. “They caused the problem. It’s time to make them pay for it.” In a 2011 report titled “The Wall Street Wrecking Ball,” ACCE estimated that the typical foreclosure costs the city of Los Angeles $19,229 in increased safety inspections, police and fire calls, trash removal, and maintenance, or a total of $384.5 million for the close to 20,000 foreclosed properties citywide.

The events were organized by ACCE, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, Good Jobs L.A., and SEIU Local 721. For more information contact Peter Kuhns at (213) 272-1141.