SLO Council votes to repeal rental inspection ordinance

March 9, 2017

A stack of 1,560 pages of signed petitions.

Faced with a looming special election, the San Luis Obispo City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to repeal the city’s controversial rental inspection ordinance. A second vote at an upcoming council meeting is necessary for the ordnance to formally be repealed.

In May 2015, the previous 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.

Many city residents have opposed the program, arguing it constitutes government intrusion and a tax on rentals. Since its passage, renters have been removed form homes during repairs and some property owners have been forced to pay the city’s high permit fees.

Supporters of the program, which include city management staff, contend there are deteriorating neighborhoods in the city where landlords do little to maintain their properties.

In recent months, former councilman Dan Carpenter, attorney Stew Jenkins and Dan Knight led a petition drive to overturn the ordinance. About a third of the city’s registered voters signed a petition to eliminate the controversial inspection program by way of a ballot measure. If passed, the ballot initiative would replace the rental inspection ordinance with a non-discrimination housing ordinance.

Carpenter, Jenkins and Knight say the city’s rental inspection ordinance violates the First, Fourth and Fight Amendments. The ordinance discriminates between renters and homeowners and dictates an unconstitutional invasion of privacy, they said.

The signature drive left the city with the choice of adopting the ordinance proposed by Carpenter, Jenkins and Knight or holding a special election on the matter within 180 days.

Last month, the city held a public forum on the rental inspection ordinance, during which the council and staff were met with more public outcry. The council then voted to suspend the rental inspection program.

On Tuesday, the council took the next step of voting to repeal the ordinance. The council is expected finalize the repeal at its upcoming meeting.


The residents of SLO owe a huge debt to the organizers of the petition drive to overturn the law and to the SLO Property & Business Owners Association, who sued the city of SLO over this.