The Kansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union plans to open an investigation surrounding legal issues with the city's proposed rental licensing and inspection program, according to a letter from the group.
The ACLU letter was among a surge of opposition to the proposed citywide program, which is scheduled to be considered for approval by Lawrence City commissioners at their 6:35 p.m. meeting today.
City officials this afternoon posted to the City Commission's website nearly 40 letters of opposition from both landlords and tenants objecting to the ordinance, which would require a sampling of apartment units across the city to be inspected for health and safety code violations.
The letter from Doug Bonney, legal director of the ACLU Foundation of Kansas, expresses concern that city inspectors plan to video record and photograph certain elements of the inspection of rental units.
"Such practices or policies raise substantial Fourth Amendment questions," Bonney wrote to city officials.
The bulk of the letters city officials received in the last two days appear to be part of an organized opposition group. Many of them were the same letter but signed by different tenants of apartment complexes around town.
The city currently operates a rental inspection program for several thousand rental units that are in single-family zoned neighborhoods. That inspection program was upheld by federal courts after the program began in 2001.
The proposed program would expand the inspection program to all types of rental units in the city. As proposed, landlords would be subject to having 10 percent of their rental units inspected every three years under normal circumstances or every six years if the condition of the properties qualified them for a city incentive program.