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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Micromanaging

September 28, 2013

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To the editor:

“I’m looking forward to trying to improve the housing stock in town,” Mayor Dever said. “I feel like these inspections, though, really need to be about life safety issues.”

If our goal is to improve the rental housing stock, then the department that handles blighted property has the tools (ordinances) to alleviate the problem. The problem will not be alleviated if the department does not have the political courage to use the tools they possess.

If life safety is the issue, then the proposed ordnance should apply to all citizens that reside in our city. To do otherwise would be assuming that safety is less important to families living in owner-occupied residences as opposed to tenants living in non-owner-occupied properties. Not only is this proposed ordnance hypocritical, it is also discriminatory.

City officials are proposing an ordnance that would increase taxes (registration fees) on the minority who are non-owner-occupied property owners. Imagine the red tape involved whereby the city obtains an administrative warrant because a tenant would not consent to an inspection. What would constitute probable cause … dirty furnace filter, cracked switchplate, etc.?

During the past ten years, our city’s lack of population and job growth has placed us near the bottom as compared to cities in our same category. Maybe it is time our city officials devoted more time on job creation and less time on micro-managing the personal lives of individuals.

Comments

Richard Heckler 10 months ago

$25.00 a year registration fee is hardly the issue. What's the real issue? Too many connected to this quite profitable "retail" industry simply don't want to spend money rehabilitating their retail investments. The largest stockholders in Lawrence,Kansas aka "all others not connected to this industry" yet paying taxes are being forced to bear the brunt of some "unmanaged and/or dilapidated" retail business units.

Lawrence,Kansas would not be the only community with rental registration. Wichita,Topeka,Overland Park,Lenexa etc etc etc have organized rental registration according to a city hall document. The fees connected to these rental registration agreements are far more than $25.00 a year. Lawrence commissioners are suggesting $10.00 which they know will not sustain this program for long. $25.00 makes more sense.

58% of Lawrence residential is rental with more than 20,000 units. These units have spread to all single family neighborhoods with the exception of neighborhoods with special covenants which is also discriminating to other neighborhoods. How many rental property owners and city commissioners live in these new "hoods' with special protection?

Meanwhile some retail rental residential property owners allow their properties to go unmanaged thus becoming problems for neighborhoods. Not only dilapidated but sources of a variety of disturbances which some landlords simply refuse to address. How about frequent all night parties that once were unheard of in single family neighborhoods?

Rental property owners are NOT required to provide off street parking thus a single family unit can quickly become a 3,7,8 or 10 family unit. Think about the parking space one new neighborhood rental rental can eat up.

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Richard Heckler 10 months ago

How many commissioners are rental property owners? Shouldn't they recuse themselves from this vote? Can we say conflict of interest?

"The problem will not be alleviated if the department does not have the political courage to use the tools they possess." Why do property owners demand city hall do what rental property owners should do instead of increasing the cost of running a city?

Bottom line rental property owners have brought this on themselves. The other bottom line neither city hall nor property owners are using existing tools to alleviate neighborhood problems.

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seenitall 10 months ago

Nothing is going to change. There will still be "all night parties" (not covered by program) and cars clogging up your streets. It is just going to waste everyones time and resources. There are already laws on the books to cover the things they are trying to "solve" by going this route. The commissioners can pat each other on the back and delude themselves that they have actually done anything that is going to change the status quo.

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jafs 10 months ago

Inspections are now "complaint driven", with tenants having to make a complaint. This is a bad system for a number of reasons. Regular inspections are a much better idea.

Safety issues are not the same for individuals and businesses. For example, restaurants have to follow food safety guidelines, while people cooking at home don't.

When you engage in a business, like serving food or renting property to tenants, you thus gain a certain responsibility that ordinary people don't have.

Landlord attempts to blur the distinction are unhelpful and misleading.

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George_Braziller 10 months ago

And the complaints from tenants aren't always addressed or followed up by the city. My former neighbor filed a complaint with the city because of multiple health and safety violations. The inspector came once, documented the violations, neighbor evicted because she filed a complaint, city never did a follow-up inspection after the 30 day deadline, and now the apartment is being rented again without any of the required repairs having been made.

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