SLO to speed up rental inspections despite protests

May 19, 2016

RentThe city of San Luis Obispo plans to complete 380 inspections of rental units by June 30. City officials are proceeding with the controversial program, even though two council members say it must stop and numerous residents say it is unconstitutional. [Tribune]

Last May, the city council voted 3-2 to adopt an ordinance that allows an inspector to enter and examine rental units to determine if the properties are safe and habitable. The ordinance also requires landlords to pay a fee to fund the program.

Mayor Jan Marx, Councilman John Ashbaugh and Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson support the program. Councilmen Dan Carpenter and Dan Rivoire voted against the rental inspection program, and at a council meeting Tuesday, they said it must be discontinued.

Several local attorneys are considering filing a lawsuit against the city over the program.

Under the ordinance, single-family homes, duplexes and granny units are required to be inspected. Apartments are exempt, but they must be inspected by the fire department for fire-related concerns.

Inspections of rental units are required to occur every three years. Tenants can deny the city inspector permission to enter a unit, but the city can then obtain an inspection warrant from the San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

Landlords must pay a fee of $380 per unit every three years in order to cover the cost of the program. Those who participate in a self-certification program can pay $260 per unit.

City staffers have already registered 3,130 units in the rental inspection program. Staffers exempted 714 units and granted amnesty to 44 units.

Amnesty gives property owners time to bring units up to code or to obtain building permits for work that was completed without city permission. On Tuesday, the council voted 3-2 to extend the amnesty period six months to Jan. 13, 2017. Carpenter and Rivoire cast the dissenting votes.

More than 20 opponents of the program spoke during public comment at the council meeting.

A total of more that 5,000 units in the city are likely eligible for the rental inspection program. The owners of a total of 1,644 units have not responded to city letters notifying them of upcoming inspections.

Thus far, only seven rental inspections have occurred. Five units passed inspection and two did not. One property owner must complete minor fixes and one must obtain a building permit.

Many city residents have opposed the program, arguing it constitutes government intrusion and a tax on rentals. Supporters of the program contend there are deteriorating neighborhoods in the city where landlords do little to maintain their properties.


I don’t know if this really a good way to go about it. First off, the is a problem, and landlords continually hose tenants for sub-standard living conditions at sky-high rates. Tenants don’t do anything, b/c they don’t want to lose the place and besides, there isn’t any better.

Anyone who’s been to CP or rented otherwise in the city knows it’s a huge problem.

Speaking of water heaters as someone mentioned, the first place I moved in slo _ the landlord connected it with a plumbing fitting and it also leaked. So, had I not noticed the smell, first time someone used the stove _ kaboom.

This type of thing is absolutely standard.

I think if you’re small time then the fee should be different. Although, small timers can be just as bad.

If you’re a high roller such as I won’t say here, but we all know who _ and you’re getting rich of providing absolutely shameful housing to naïve students, then you should be paying a buttload. I really don’t give a rat’s ass about all this unconstitutional crap.

So while everyone gets all up in arms about things being unconstitutional, let’s not forget there are plenty of folks who work hard, and get a crappy place to live. Courtesy of SLO. Another reason I moved out of the city.



What you are saying is that there are no laws already in existence to deal with this problem? Or is the problem a crisis created by not enforcing the existing laws or regs to be able to have the heavy hand of government (Jan Marx) gain more control over our lives.

When bad people do bad things they should be prosecuted. But the crazy left (Jan Marx) do not like to prosecute just punish everyone.


Jan Marx is a Adam Hill style Capitalist Democrat, pro real estate, business and developers. A centrist these days not a leftie.

Stop blaming the left for the actions of the “bigger government is better for you” faction, we did not do it, things were fine before re: the code enforcement for rentals.


What they practice ain’t capitalism.


Completely agree with you 65buick!!

Jon Tatro

This exact program was found to be unconstitutional by a Federal Appellate court in Ohio. Another government over reach of power and they know it. They will be forced to pay back all fees just as was done in Ohio. If they have Probable cause they can get a warrant just like the police do. Lastly they don’t give a damn about substandard housing they see this as a way to increase revenue and get more raises. Corruption!


There is more to it, RQN has helped drive the program (and others) and Jan Marx needs the support to stay in power, RQN voteing bloc is a thing.

Also even if shot down in the courts, the properties that need many permits (you got a permit when you changed that water heater 10 years ago right?) will be listed as in violation, So they will not be able to get any repair or project permits until they fix the outstanding violations.

If they can complete the inspections before the courts/appeals are finished then all of those properties will still have listed violations even if rental inspection program is scrapped and fees refunded. They know this, RQN knows this.

Then there are all of the new hires or contracts to $$pay to meet the deadlines and deal with the day to day regular permits. Yall know building plan check is contracted to out of town plan reviewers now right?

Jan Marx, 20 years is too long, anyone but Jan for Mayor fall 2016.


Make ’em get a warrant EVERY time.


That, and hold the city accountable should something happen in a place that has passed inspection.

This is like building and construction inspections, sure, they might catch something, but they are usually really poor at this (often it is farmed out); and when something goes wrong, the lawsuits fly – everyone is sued except the governing agency that plan-checked, inspected and permitted. Go figure. Why are they even needed then? We are such a litigious society, that if something if poorly designed, constructed or operated, there are plenty of lawsuits to go around.

So much for our Fourth Amendment rights. Stupid city. Such colossal ignorance all in one spot.


Morro Bay won’t be far behind. Everything San Luis does, Morro Bay city manager carbon copies. He’s calling it “community development” in a recent glossy printed letter sent out, always with his picture on every notice. Maybe save a few bucks by printing in black and white, regular paper and without your photo? Every bit helps mr. manager $$$. In reality its stealing your money, fleecing, picking pockets, extortion. Do you really think the motive is about community protection? Pleeeease. Renters rights and laws cover this already. Just another way to shake down what little we’re untitled to keep. They alway want more. Dreaming up fees is the only way these greedy politicians know how to squeeze the public even more. Oh, and with all their concern about political BS regarding “affordable housing” for all, your rent just went up to cover code enforcement fees.

Kaiser Bill

Jamie Irons the Mayor of Morro Bay. His wife is the Personnel Director for the City of SLO. That is why Morro Bay is copying all of SLO’s ridiculous regulations, like having no boats in a driveway, IN A TOWN WITH A FISHING HARBOR.


Morro Bay rentals are just as bad as the SLO rentals are. Lots of lovely mold and mildew around. The landlords have gotten fat, dumb and happy off of their shitty, over-priced rentals. It’s not so awful to make them clean these places up and get rid of the hazardous problems.

Kaiser Bill

This stupid nanny state regulation will drive up the cost of rent for working class people and poor students. The fact that Dan Carpenter voted against it shows he would likely be a good Supervisor.

just the facts

Thanks to Dan Carpenter for opposing this ‘nanny state’ regulation. The SLO City Council members who voted for the rental inspection, also endorsed their guy, Adam Hill. What does that tell you?

Know this type of regulation could be introduced in the future at the county level of government. That’s why we need Dan Carpenter on the dais of the Board of Supervisors come January 2017!

Vote for Dan Carpenter for 3rd District Supervisor.


Have you seen the cost of Cal Poly lately?, poor students?? hardly, and the salary of Poly’s president Armstrong and how he has increased his administration, they are getting some of that money from the students or better yet their parents.

Kaiser Bill

Student debt. Many of the student at Poly do not have rich parents.


Someone has the money, take a drive through a Cal Poly student parking lot, not many older cars but certainly many expensive new cars.


i haven’t had a landlord for 45 years, but the ones i had were milking it. i was on the road for 15 years and have stayed in many places that should have been brought up to “standard”. this includes black mold; lack thereof.

it would be good to see exactly what the inspections call for.


“it would be good to see exactly what the inspections call for.”

Everything they can see.


Cultural Marxism is a synonym for Overreaching Tyranny and Fascism.

the situation

Jan K. Marx supports this? You don’t say.


In other words….. “We need more money to support our bloated government”, no surprise Mayor Jan Marx, Councilman John Ashbaugh and Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson support the program.


Precisely. $380/ unit every 3 yrs; or choose the self cert option for $260/ unit. Therefore the city determines it costs them $120 to pay an inspector and $260 is profit for the coffers thru additional revenue. Doing the math, it’s roughly an additional $925,000 every 3 years.


Yeah, Christmas bonuses for all city employees………..