Council considers ordinancesSeveral audience members comment on rental and property ordinances
At the end of a special session for the Washington City Council to examine the proposed rental inspection and property maintenance ordinances, Mayor Pro Tem Bob Shepherd gave the gathered audience some homework to do before another special meeting on Aug. 26.
Shepherd told the audience, many of whom had spoken against the proposed rental inspection ordinance, to examine the document and return with questions or comments to the special meeting. He said that the council realizes the issue deals with such things as individual rights and business management. He said the council wants public input on the issue.
“Go through it with red pen and mark the areas where you either have a question, want an interpretation or you want intent, and suggestions on how to make it better,” Shepherd said.
City administrator Brent Hinson said that three meetings following that would be required to approve the ordinances. He said that public comments would be taken at all the meetings. Copies of the ordinances are available at Washington City Hall and on the City of Washington’s Web site.
During the discussion of the property maintenance ordinance, audience members made several comments on the contents, especially the section of the ordinance requiring people to install carbon monoxide detectors in their homes.
For about 45 minutes before the review of the ordinances started, members of the public gave comments on the proposed ordinance. Council member Kathy Salazar, who chaired the rental inspection and property maintenance ordinance subcommittee that drafted the proposals, said that the ordinances came mostly from ordinances other cities use. She also said the subcommittee mostly limited any changes in the city’s ordinances to safety issues. While there are many questions, Shepherd said that the subcommittee had done exactly what the council had asked it to do.
Dean Klingman, a landlord in Washington for 50 years, said that he has tenants who have been renting from him for over 20 years. He recommended against the rental inspection ordinance, saying that the cost of the inspections would be passed on to the renters.
“If you go into people’s property – their private residences – this is infringing on their rights, and you could be sued,” he said.
Randy Payne asked about a grandfather clause in the ordinance. He said that several landlords had purchased property without the laws in place.
Sheila Hansen said that she has recently inherited rental property. She said that she is concerned that the amounts of the fees that will be charged for inspections aren’t listed on the ordinance.
Shepherd said that the fee structure hasn’t been determined yet. He said that the council plans to make the fees as little as possible to make the program self-supporting.
Richard Gilmore, who owns several properties, the newest of which is from 1926, said that if landlords paid a high fee, the landlords should get something in return. He suggested the city get the landlord listings from the Washington Chamber of Commerce. He said that he agrees with the city having rental properties registered.
Tim Elliott, a member of the subcommittee, said that he doesn’t agree with the concept of the ordinance.
“I think this is laden with the possibility of abuse,” he said.
Many other comments were taken. Shepherd said the comments were recorded for Mayor Sandra Johnson, who was not at the meeting.
The next special meeting will be held Aug. 26 at 6 p.m. in the Washington Public Library.