SLO rental inspection program moves forward

December 17, 2014

house for rentBy 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.


Loading...
Niles Q

My questions are: who will be coming along on these inspections? Fire code enforcement would require the fire marshal, plumbing and building codes is the building inspector’s office, illegal activities, i.e. medical MJ growing, means the police.


What sort of warrant would be needed if some inspector saw some illegal activity? Could the word of an inspector become probable cause for a search warrant and possible arrests?


The SLO muni code also has rules on the number of people living in a house. So if an inspection finds that violation does it mean automatic evictions must be enforced? Doesn’t that take a court order and about six months? I see the city attorney’s office getting a lot busier with this one.


Given the housing shortage and expense in SLO, they need to have a heart and not evict some kid the week before finals, or even mid-term at that.


There may be legitimate concerns about some of these issues, but does the “Happiest Place in America” want to have this hard reputation?


sbjcl

Why not require cameras in every rental that way the Stasi wont have to leave headquarters.


sloweb

Calm down people. This is just phase 1. Phase 2 will be rent control to prevent rising rents that are needed to offset new regulations, fines and taxes. The only winners here are SLO City employees.


hotdog

The power mad money grubbing majority strikes again.


On one hand they recognize there isn’t enough housing, especially lower end housing. On the other hand they do their best to diminish housing and encourage community destroying new development that will further ‘sanitize’ the town.


New development is always expensive and boring, often replacing the charm of older buildings and open space.


So what if someone converts a garage into a bedroom? Often that becomes housing for students or workforce people that is cheaper and more convenient than a sterile condo on lower H.


There is much talk about parking problems, often blamed on students and irresponsible landlords who pack too many renters into their units. On my block (mostly owner occupied) nearly

everyone but me has one or more cars on the street, all the time. A large (and fairly new) rental compound up the street has four or more cars on the street all the time, but that is spread among four units. So one can deduce that renters are no more the problem than permanent residents.


We have plenty of laws to protect tenants and maintain safety. Use them. Keep the gestapo out of our homes.


brettmx

Nothing until there is fire and the occupant dies because there is no escape route or succumbs to carbon monoxide poisoning from the water heater.


SLOthinker

You make some valid points here, but you are mixing apples and oranges. Apartments and garage conversions are two very different things. When a garage is converted, you lose one, sometimes two, off-street parking spaces and add usually one car. So the net increase in street parking is between 1-2 cars.


marcusaurelius

in business and government, always aim for the multiplier, in this case the lower and middle class, so that reaches can be reaped….


marcusaurelius

replace reaches with riches…..


Pelican1

“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.

Is $411,600.00 a realistic amount to administer this program? How much will go to salaries and benefits and by how many man hours is the bureaucracy expected to grow?

I would like a full accounting (breakdown) of how they came to the $98.00 per unit.


abigchocoholic

Is $411,600.00 a realistic amount to administer this program? How much will go to salaries and benefits and by how many man hours is the bureaucracy expected to grow?

————–

Not even close. That’s just opening year expenses. Then there will be red tags on rentals that the inspectors find need work. For those there will then be follow up work and follow up inspections. And there will be disagreements and lawsuits. And there will be accidents and probably some under the table pay offs that will eventually get caught resulting in more lawsuits.


Costs will go up dramatically. Any govt. dept. worth its salt makes sure of that because that is the only incentive in govt. by the very nature of govt. And that means bigger budgets, more managers, more costs etc. etc. over the upcoming years.


achillesheal

Many govt programs start out small and unobtrusive, they just don’t stay that way for long.


The local government will cry in a few years that they need more money to administer the rental inspection Gestapo to save the children, and the fools will vote another 1% increase in tax.


kayaknut

It will be just like the APCD, they will claim the department supports itself, they people in the department will determine their own salaries, when they get raises, and if they what more money the will increase fees, fines, and penalties


sloweb

Under California law, tenants already have all of the tools they need in order to ensure that they have safe and habitable living situations. This is about money – for the city. For the managers and employees’ pensions and benefits.


achillesheal

Amen brotha. Exactly right.


JB Bronson

Rentals that pass initial inspections will not be inspection again for a number of years.. Although a site is deemed inhabitable, this program will not eliminate overcrowding and garages converted into living space AFTER THE INSPECTION, because we all know it will be a while before the inspectors come back.


Bad policy.


Jorge Estrada

Another Marxist moment. Forget using code enforcement because that is an expense already paid for (but the money is gone?), this will fund itself. If this really goes through then expect a lucky me to live in SLO tax. Don’t laugh, this is a bed tax with a creative excuse that SLO learners may allow.