Unite for democracy, YES on Measure B-17

July 31, 2017

Stew Jenkins

OPINION by STEW JENKINS

On July 26, the New Times reported that the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney had determined that the City Council “unlawfully altered the initiative,” Measure B-17, in violation of Elections Code sections 9210 and 9214.

Many who want a permanent repeal are asking – “If I want to permanently repeal the invasive rental home inspection ordinance, do I vote “Yes” or “No?”

The answer is that you vote “Yes” on Measure B-17.

The changes the city made ended up in the “title and summary” appearing in the voter information guide in a way designed to confuse voters. No alteration was made to any part of the “FULL TEXT OF MEASURE B-17,” which still provides a permanent repeal of the warrantless inspection ordinance, and replaces it with a non-discrimination in housing ordinance. The Measure’s text is at the end of this article.

City management and the council had set out to confuse voters through pretense and Orwellian double-speak. Since 1910 the law has required that a city council presented with a citizens’ petition to either (1) adopt the people’s proposal without change, or (2) put it up for a vote without change. To prevent a hostile city council from manipulating the people’s will, those are still the only two choices the elections code section 9210 allows.

In order to confuse, the San Luis Obispo City Council tried something that has never been attempted anywhere  Instead of adopting the initiative without change, they adopted the first half of the initiative (a repeal of the rental inspection ordinance) but then set the entire proposition (both a binding repeal and a non-discrimination in housing ordinance) on the ballot for a vote.

Crucially, a mere repeal by the council is not permanent.

The SLO City Council went further too unlawfully alter the ballot title and summary that would appear in your voter guide (in violation of section 9210 and several other sections). They added statements implying that the council had already repealed the rental inspection ordinance, suggesting that no voter repeal was needed, all to make the false argument that the invasive inspections of homes were “dead and gone.”

None of these unlawful additions informed voters that if measure B-17 doesn’t pass, the city council could bring back the unconstitutional searches of private homes the following week.

While the SLO County District Attorney decided that the city council wouldn’t be prosecuted because they didn’t knowingly violate the law when they voted to make those changes, he did say that “a civil action may” be the appropriate “remedy.” Ironic, when city officials argue this initiative’s two easily understood sentences guaranteeing equal dignity could put the city at risk of being sued.

Just like when the city adopted its unconstitutional, invasive, inspection program in the first place, these unprecedented actions of the city constituted a massive invasion of residents’ power over their own city.

What motive compelled desperate moves? Simple, management wanted to bring back the ordinance under another name, in a different chapter, without having to get voter approval.

But, if the people adopt B-17 by voting yes, city managers will have to ask voters, to approve any new effort to enact a law mandating a knock on your door to insist on inspecting your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, or garage. City management doesn’t want that kind of voter oversight. They bridle at simple procedures provided in state law for city management with probable cause (a neighbor’s complaint and/or observable conditions) providing an affidavit to a judge to obtain an inspection warrant.

The real reasons city management pushed the rental housing inspection program was because they projected it would generate half-a-million-dollars in annual revenue through registration fees, inspection fees and business license taxes levied on landlords. Revenue for hiring more city employees, at the expense of tenants’ increased rents.

If you don’t believe this, just listen to community development director Michael Condron and Councilman Dan Rivoire comments during the Feb. 16 and March 7 meetings.

Reinstating substantial parts of the Rental Inspection Ordinance such as registration fees, rental licenses, coupled with issuing minimum $500 fines is clearly their goal to generate new “revenue” on the bowed backs of tenants. They can only do so if they can stop voters from adopting B-17.

Tenants don’t feel protected. They feel violated and frightened about how high their rents could go. Or worse, frightened that their residence could be red-tagged and they’d be out on the street.

B-17 protects privacy and restricts rent increases. Mobile home rent control is untouched. Affordable housing is enhanced. Every resident is guaranteed equal dignity in housing laws.

Unite with the 9,000 residents who signed the petition to bring democracy to San Luis Obispo’s housing policy. Mail in your Yes vote on Measure B-17 today.

 

Measure B-17:

NOW, THEREFORE,

THE PEOPLE OF THE CITY OF SAN LUIS OBISPO DO ORDAIN AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1. This ordinance shall be known as the Non-Discrimination in Housing Ordinance.”

SECTION 2. Chapter 15.10, “Rental Housing Inspection”, of the San Luis Obispo

Municipal Code is hereby repealed and new Chapter 15.10 is adopted to read as follows:

CHAPTER 15.10. NON-DISCRIMINATION IN HOUSING

SECTION 15.10.010 The City of San Luis Obispo shall not discriminate against any person based upon age, income, disability, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual identity, or inability or ability to own a home, by imposing any compulsory program, policy, intrusion or inspection applicable to any residential dwelling unit. No determination to conduct an inspection of any dwelling shall be based substantially on any occupant’s age, income, disability, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual identity or status as an owner or renter of such dwelling.

Stew Jenkins  is a San Luis Obispo attorney who handles municipal law, estate planning and family law. In 2012, he successfully obtained an injunction against the City of San Luis Obispo to stop it criminalizing poor people as a means of driving them out of town. Jenkins is a San Luis Obispo County Liberal Democrat who supports the rights of working people to organize unions, growing the local economy through project labor agreements, the right of all people to health care and equal dignity. He is one of the proponents of Initiative Measure B-17.







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13 Comments

  1. sweethome says:

    Good show Mr. Jenkins!
    I have already voted (by mail) YES on Meaure B-17.
    Please people; no more “help” from the local elected officials.
    I have lived here in the city/county for about 15 years. Unfortunately, I have already seen a once friendly community becoming more and more cold hearted. I have spoken to city officials and government employees on several occasions regarding the quality of living here for an average citizen.
    You might as well be talking to a brick wall. Actually, if you talk to a brick wall in Bubblegum Alley, at least SOMETHING might stick to it. And once in a while that wall gets cleaned up (unlike council members).
    I hope that voting YES on B-17 will help stemming the tide of deceit, corruption, and indifference by our local government.
    If Oprah feels that San Luis Obispo is truly “Happy City”, she hasn’t met my “hood” lately. How about an episode of “Dancing with the Draconian”?
    James Sutton

    (10) 14 Total Votes - 12 up - 2 down
  2. George Bailey says:

    Folks,

    Vote “Yes” on Measure B-17 and let’s RECALL Mayor Heidi Harmon!

    Enough is enough, corruption must be stopped.

    George

    (15) 23 Total Votes - 19 up - 4 down
  3. hijinks2 says:

    Say it isn’t so, more piss poor legal interpretation by the City’s idiot attorney. How many times can this idiot screw up and we tax payers continue to pay. What a great gig for a utterly incompetent attorney. However, just look at the rest of the miscreants in the City’s employ. However, this is simply a reflection of the City recruiting from the bottom of the barrel. A city manager forced out of numerous jobs, a ass city manager who was part of the group named for a multi-million dollar settlement due to abuse. A manager who directs his staff to dump hazardous waste at the city yard, a union boss who gets revealed for stealing a city batwing mower for personal gain, a dirty utilities worker charging city residents for services he is paid to perform as part of his job, a cop who beats and forces his informant into trafficking narcotics for him, a couple more dirty cops that import contraband to the US and the list goes on and on. And oh yes, a building department that sells passes for non-conforming work. Can anyone be surprised. Even a public works official who burglarizes a woman’s residence.

    (18) 26 Total Votes - 22 up - 4 down
    • kayaknut says:

      So you call the city attorney an idiot, but she continues to get raise after raise after raise. So who is the real idiot? The one getting the raises or the people that re-elect the people that have the ability but not the desire to make a change in the city attorney?

      (8) 14 Total Votes - 11 up - 3 down
  4. Bob Lyon says:

    I’m disappointed, but not surprised that our city manager and city attorney came up with the attempted mis-direction by changing the wording of the ballot measure. It seems the only thing the city manager is interested in is raising revenue for the city, most likely to help service the tremendous burden the high pension costs this city faces. The city attorney seems like her only function is to make sure the city manager avoids any legal problems; how many times has Christine Dietrick had to either hire outside legal help, or has had her legal advice overturned or refuted ? I simply cannot trust the city council to be independent enough to rein in the city manager and work for the benefit of the citizens of SLO; Mayor Harmon was surely brought up to speed on the city’s finances very quickly, but it’s very possible that even she wasn’t given all the facts or the information was presented in a biased manner. I am voting Yes on B-17; I want the city voters to have a say in any future rental inspection ordinance. I do not trust the city manager nor the city attorney; having this ballot measure in place eliminates crafting of an ordinance behind closed doors and retains a sense of transparency.

    (17) 21 Total Votes - 19 up - 2 down
    • kayaknut says:

      Big pension payments are coming and the city doesn’t have the money to pay them, they wasted it all on outrageous salaries and benefits and they clearly don’t want to make cuts there. Where else are they supposed to get the money for the pension payments? They can also scare the residents with the claim of service cuts unless they give them more money, it’s worked in the past.

      (11) 13 Total Votes - 12 up - 1 down
  5. shelworth says:

    So who will decide what a fair rent will be? The Landlord, the City, or the Renter?

    (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
  6. kayaknut says:

    I understand there already is a system in place to deal with slumlords, have you reported them yet?

    (13) 15 Total Votes - 14 up - 1 down
  7. rukidding says:

    When is enough enough? The city attorney said that the city council would not be prosecuted because they didn’t know what they were doing. Well she got that part of this right. If I’m not mistaking doesn’t the city council hire the city attorney. I would have to say that this appears to be a conflict of interest.
    Yippee, she certainly got that correct. Now I wonder how many convicted criminal will use that as a defense? I didn’t know what I was doing?
    That then makes this real easy who to point the finger to. It’s the city manager, Litchig along with her advisor the city attorney. Now they obviously new what they were doing so then they need to be prosecuted.
    It’s time for Dan Dow, or the State’s Attorney General, to come and start cleaning not only San Luis Obispo City up but some of the other crooks that are still around.

    (28) 34 Total Votes - 31 up - 3 down
    • SLOBIRD says:

      If the City Council did not know what they were doing, which is most of the time, they should not have voted for the inspections. But since they didn’t understand and voted anyways, they should be recalled (especially after voting for the 580 homes on Grossman’s “Ranch” that will destroy SLO). This Council for years, first under Mayor Jan Marx’s leadership under the direction of John Madonna and Tom and Jim Copeland brothers, and now with Socialist Barbara Harmon who has NO POLITICAL EXPERIENCE is relying on these two bozo’s leadership at City Hall, Licktig and Dietrick. What a disaster facing the City of SLO and I am so glad I sold and got the hell of the corrupt snake pit! That City deserves everything coming in its future!

      (6) 8 Total Votes - 7 up - 1 down
      • rukidding says:

        Do any of the city council members really have any credentials to support them making financial decisions for the city. NO! Consequently they only rely on what the city manager tells them with the support of the city attorney. Because of the Brown Act council member can’t discuss the actions of the city manager unless it”s an agenda item or behind closed doors for other reasons. Because of this when you have a slick city manager like Litchig,, and McKinney that was at Atascadero, these council members get manipulated into thinking that they know what is going on and just vote for the recommendations put before them. Have you ever heard an open discussion about finances at a council meeting? If any of them even had the slightest clue of what was going on there wouldn’t be this enormous unfunded retirement costs.
        But at the same time 2 points are made here.
        1.The city council is incompetent.
        2.The city manager, along with the city attorney, are ripping the city off for eventual personal gain when it comes for excessive pay, benefits, retirement, bonuses and the taxpayers having to finance their errors.
        It’s time for the people to grab the big valve at city hall and start turning it to drain the swamp. Swamp gas can kill you.

        (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
      • taxpayer says:

        The mayor’s name is Heidi Harmon.

        (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
  8. c.d.cox says:

    Go after the slum lords that degrade a neighborhood there are a few in my area.

    (12) 16 Total Votes - 14 up - 2 down

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