SLO rental inspection program moves forward
December 17, 2014
By KAREN VELIE
At a contentious council meeting attended by approximately 200 people, San Luis Obispo City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday to have staff draft a rental inspection ordinance aimed at eliminating unsafe housing conditions.
During the more than four-hour meeting, the bulk of those speaking at public comment were opposed to the city implementing a rental inspection program. Many opponents of the program argued against government intrusion into their homes while others said it was a tax on rentals disguised as a fee.
City staff countered by noting that some tenants were afraid to turn in their landlords for serious violations because of the fear of eviction and a shortage of available rental units.
In addition, if the ordinance is passed, it is expected that the tenant would have a right under the U.S. Constitution to refuse the inspection. Even so, critics of the program said many renters would not be aware of their Constitutional rights.
Councilmen Dan Carpenter and Dan Rivorie voted against having staff draft the ordinance wanting more time to look into the issue.
]ad] Carlyn Christianson said she supports all staff recommendations and made a motion to move forward. Both Mayor Jan Marx and Councilman John Ashbaugh voted in favor the rental inspection program.
If the ordinance passes, city staff will inspect each residential rental in R-1 and R-2 Zones every three years. Apartment complexes are exempt from the new inspection program under the proposal.
Owners of the targeted rental properties will be required cover the cost of the program through a yearly
“fee” assessed of about $98 per rental unit. With almost 4,200 rental units in the R-1 and R-2 Zones, the city will collect approximately $411,600 a year to fund the inspection program.
Several landlords told the council the fee would then be passed on to renters.