Stew Jenkins takes aim at Guadalupe’s rental inspections

May 15, 2017

Stew Jenkins

The leader of the movement to repeal and replace San Luis Obispo’s rental inspection program is threatening to overturn a similar ordinance in Guadalupe. San Luis Obispo attorney Stew Jenkins describes Guadalupe’s ordinance as “more extreme” than the one recently repealed by the SLO City Council.

Last year, while serving as city administrator of Guadalupe, former San Luis Obispo councilman Andrew Carter recommended that the Northern Santa Barbara County city adopt an ordinance creating mandatory rental inspections.

In May 2016, the Guadalupe City Council adopted the ordinance and established a one-year grace period for landlords to prepare for mandatory annual inspections. During the grace period, Carter departed the city of Guadalupe.

Recently, Guadalupe residents asked Jenkins to review their city’s inspection ordinance, Jenkins said. After reviewing the ordinance, Jenkins drafted a letter stating the rental inspection rule is unconstitutional.

Guadalupe’s ordinance unconstitutionally punishes every tenant, landlord and business in the city for exercising their constitutional right to refuse to comply with warrantless searches conducted without probable cause, Jenkins says in a letter to the city.

Jenkins also argued the Guadalupe council illegally adopted the ordinance because it ignored the city voters’ rights to veto a new rental inspection program.

Guadalupe city code previously allowed for annual rental inspections, but voters repealed that language when they adopted a 2014 business tax measure, according to Jenkin’s letter. The ballot measure did not grant the Guadalupe council the power to readopt a rental inspection ordinance, Jenkins wrote.

On May 2, Jenkins presented his letter, which calls  for an immediate suspension and repeal of the ordinance, to the Guadalupe council.

The Guadalupe council has since met in closed session to discuss the possibility of a lawsuit over the ordinance. It is unclear, though, what the council plans to do.

Following a successful petition drive Jenkins led in San Luis Obispo, the SLO City Council voted in March to repeal its rental inspection ordinance. However, the council refused to adopt a non-discrimination in housing ordinance that Jenkins’ initiative called for.

As a result, San Luis Obispo will hold a special election this summer on whether to adopt the non-discrimination ordinance. Jenkins and his supporters say the non-discrimination measure is needed to prevent the city from adopting another rental inspection ordinance, while city officials claim the proposal is a legal liability.

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Please don’t come and inspect my garage that I converted into multiple living quarters and have rented out to take advantage of the current high rental prices. I’m pretty sure it safe; trust me.

Where are your neighbors? Illegal garage conversions have always been subject to inspection when there is a complaint. The Rental Inspection Ordinance only applies to the law abiding residents. The law breakers will always evade detection.