San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Thursday he’ll increase funding to go after problem landlords after a Voice of San Diego and KPBS investigation showed tenants aren’t getting much help from the city fighting cockroaches, mold and other substandard housing conditions.

One landlord, Bankim Shah, owns nearly 90 properties, many of them in disrepair despite dozens of formal complaints against them.

“We have to send a very strong message and very strong enforcement that that kind of stuff will not be tolerated in any neighborhood in San Diego,” Faulconer told KPBS’s “Midday Edition.”

Faulconer also said he’d take a look at the city’s code enforcement strategy, which has left tenants in the lurch even after they’ve filed complaints with the city against their landlords.

Neighborhood Code Compliance Deputy Director Mike Richmond told KPBS and Voice of San Diego last fall his department doesn’t have enough resources to build big cases against problem landlords. Instead, it clears isolated complaints as they come.

Richmond also said inspectors can’t help with roach and rat infestations despite a law written by state Sen. Ben Hueso that says otherwise.

Though that law passed in late 2013, inspectors still haven’t been trained and certified to take on new kinds of enforcement.

Deputy Chief Operating Officer of Neighborhood Services David Graham said that’s because the department has been in transition, and because the existing workload (Richmond estimated inspectors went on 6,000 calls in 2014) and a backlog of medical marijuana cases have kept staff busy.

Development Services Director Bob Vacchi estimated that certification could be completed in the next six months.

Faulconer said on “Midday Edition” the city needs to get up to speed on state housing laws.

“When it comes to rules that have to be enforced, the city has to do that,” Faulconer said. “We’re protecting families, we’re protecting our neighborhoods.”

Council members David Alvarez, Marti Emerald and Myrtle Cole issued a memo in January calling for more resources to proactively enforce the state’s substandard housing laws.

The mayor’s draft budget is expected in April, and the final budget is due out in June.

Megan Burks is a reporter for Speak City Heights, a media project of Voice of San Diego, KPBS, Media Arts Center and The AjA Project. You can contact her...

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