Thursday, October 18, 2007

City Council Meeting

As usual, I got to the city council meeting late. Both the housing grant proposals had been unanimously approved and landlords were weighing in , generally opposing the rental inspection fee (What a surprise!). The general drift of the anti fee presentations was "I am a good land lord and should not have to pay the fee. Only the bad landlords should have to pay the fee."

I'm not familiar enough with the landlords in town to know who the various speakers were but there were some interesting statements and analogies made. When I got there, the gentleman speaking was comparing the rental inspection process to a driving test in that as long as you show competence, you don't have to retake the test. Ergo, as long as you have not complaints, I guess you shouldn't have any inspections. Of course, I do have to pay for my plates each year, whether or not I have to take the test.

The next speaker argued there were two ways to run the inspection process (I think), a market based one or a command based one. He wasn't clear as to how the current market based one worked but the city council wants to impose a command based one. I guess if you let your properties run down enough, the invisible hand of the market works and all your tenants who can afford it move to the nice new apartments going up on the south side of town.

The last gentleman, Jeff Woodruff, I think (but don't hold me to it), argued that since everybody's property in Carbondale, whether owned or rental, could be unsafe, everyone should pay a fee and everyone should be inspected. Actually, that's not a half bad idea but somehow I don't think he meant it as a serious proposal. I wouldn't mind having an inspector in every three years to make sure my building is safe since he's trained to see things I'm going to overlook. I think he was approaching it more from the "Why are you discriminating against the landlord's angle" though.

There were a couple of pro fee presentations as well. One was pretty fast and was more of a "I support the fee in crease" speech. The other was from Sandy Litecky, president of the Arbor District and a landlord herself. She pointed out that other college cities with inspections funded them through fees and cited an example of one land lord's property that had a full page of citations, then a month later had a page and a half when reinspected. However, that's only one example from one landlord and you could argue that's one extreme example.

The council went into closed session shortly after this. Anyone care to fill in what happened earlier? I got a look at the Chamber of Commerce's statement but didn't have much time to study what it is I'm supporting so am hoping to get a copy of it this week.

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