Our Lakewood City Council is considering a program they call Rental Inspection Program which uses the acronym, RIP.
Let’s talk nomenclature. A more accurate and truthful descriptive term for RIP would be Ridiculous Inspection Program.
RIP targets and punishes a group of business individuals who are responsible for an impressive list of accomplishments and contributions that all benefit our city. The vast majority of these business people are in no way involved with slumlord properties. Applying the city RIP plan to this group of individuals is a ridiculous thing for our city to do.
TOP TEN INVESTOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS & CONTRIBUTIONS:
- Investors buy and maintain rental properties in our city. Chasing investors out of our city will create more vacant properties resulting in more homeless people prowling our streets and shops with their grocery buggies.
- Investors pay large amounts of real property taxes.
- Investors support our schools through their property tax payments.
- Investors provide homes to individuals, most of whom cannot afford to buy and maintain their own home.
- Investors spend money at Lakewood businesses such as Lakewood Hardware and Lowe’s where they buy carpet, nails, tools, plumbing fixtures, doors, lumber, plants, grass seed…
- Investors create jobs for people who want to work, such as painters, plumbers, carpenters, electricians, roofers and gardeners.
- Investors pay giant sums of sales and excise taxes.
- Investors pay for utilities and utility taxes.
- Investors lower our city’s homeless rate.
- Investors make Lakewood property management companies possible which brings jobs to our city.
Let’s talk numbers. The population for the City of Lakewood, as measured in 2014 equals 59,610 people. Renters comprise 54% of the population which equals 32,189 renters. It has been reported that we have somewhere between 13,000 and 14,000 rental units in Lakewood. Using 13,500 as the number, we have an average of 2.4 individuals living in each rental unit.
A minority of these renters live in slumlord managed properties. No one seems to know how many renters suffer from slumlord conditions. That number is an unknown mystery number. So the city uses the number 100%. The city plan punishes 100% of the property owners, 100% of the property management companies and 100% of the renters in their effort to solve a slumlord problem that relates to a small percentage of properties and renters. This makes as much sense as it does to give everyone chemotherapy when a few people are diagnosed with cancer.
As long as we are talking about ridiculous ideas, the city could consider a different kind of RIP where the acronym would stand for Renter Inspection Program.
Here is how the Renter Inspection Program could work. The city could complete an analysis and determine that investor property owners already make a huge positive contribution to our city as described above. Additionally the study would show that the vast majority of these property owners / managers are not slumlords. The study would further show that renters generally add very little to the city when compared to property owners. Based on these findings the city could direct their attack exclusively toward the renters instead of the investors and property managers.
First, we leave the investor property owners out of the city’s proposed Ridiculous Inspection Program. Secondly, we leave the property management companies out of the city’s proposed Ridiculous Inspection Program. The city then launches Renter Inspection Program
Charge each renter $50 X 2.4 renters X 13,500 rentals = $1,620,000. My plan creates more cash than the city’s originally projected $175,000 cash need. Now renters are finally making a contribution. Single people, married couples, people who abuse the term finance or fiancee, transgenders or just plain roommates will all be treated without discrimination. Each renter pays $50. Oh, let’s not be too ridiculous. Kids go free.
Set up a tiny hut the size of an old country outhouse right in front of Lakewood City Hall. You know, like those old absentee ballot huts. Renters drive through dropping $50 bills in the hut box until the city scores $1,620,000.
Next, the city sets up a website for renters with an official sounding title of City of Lakewood Renter Inspection Program. If a renter has a property condition complaint they cannot resolve with their property owner (landlord) or the property management company, they send an email notice to the city website.
Because the city is no longer dealing with 13,500 rental properties, but rather simply just a minority number of slumlord properties, there is no real need to spend 100 grand on a program manager or $30,000 on a new city car. Simply send an existing staff member like David Bugher out in an Uber to investigate the renter complaint.
The city then lowers the boom on the slumlord. The slumlord either complies or the city runs the slumlord out of the city.
Thus the problem is solved without messing with quality Lakewood business people who make up the majority of our investor property owners and property management companies.
I have used 935 words to express my opinion. I have designed a hat that sends the same message with just 11 words.
I believe my well designed ridiculous plan is as ridiculous as the city’s current plan, but under my plan the onus is on the renters, who after all are the individuals the city is wants to help
Disclosure: Just because I obviously have the requisite intellect, creativity, talent and problem solving skills that match those of our city council when it comes to designing giant ridiculous solutions for tiny infinitesimal problems, fear not that I will run for Lakewood City Council.
David Anderson says
Speaking of nomenclature:
From the City of Lakewood website containing every document related to RIP, it is interesting to notice the title of each, and then, of a sudden, a rather radical departure from the usual nomenclature to something less innocuous. Why, do you suppose?
July 27, 2015 – “Rental Housing Inspection Program.”
December 14, 2015 – “Rental Housing Inspection Program.”
February 8, 2016 – “Rental Housing Inspection Program Update.”
March 28, 2016 – “Rental Housing Inspection.”
May 9, 2016 – “Rental Housing Program.” Did you catch that? For the first time, no mention of “inspection” in the title.
June 6, 2016 – “Rental Housing Safety Program.” Now, also for the first time, the title of what the city is proposing continues not only to delete “inspection” but in its place declares that the plan is for purposes of “safety.”
July 5, 2016 – even though July 5 is tomorrow, and therefore hasn’t happened yet as I write this, nevertheless the document on the city website dated July 5 is a draft by the program architects as if RIP, now RHSP, is to pass and for the first time the acronym is not RIP but RHSP for Rental Housing Safety Program.
In fact, the entirety of everything the City has on its website has the over-arching umbrella title of RHSP though most certainly it began as RIP.
The question becomes, in reviewing the above, what happened between “Rental Housing Inspection Program” (March 28, 2016) and “Rental Housing Program” – sans the word “inspection” (May 9, 2016), followed in succeeding posts by the City with “safety” included and in which “inspection” in the title occurs not again?
Even the July 5 announcement for the public hearing has no mention, at all – not in the title, not in the text – of the word “inspection.”
Because on May 3, 2016 the Tacoma News Tribune ran the rental “inspection” story which opened the floodgates for many, many articles taking to task the City for its audacity to even contemplate such a thing.
The City changed the wording.
A spoon-full of sugar helps the vinegar go down?
If a duck walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, shall we not call it a duck or shall we pretend it is something else?
Joseph Boyle says
Thank you for your research and comment. I agree with your concerns.
If our city is going to change the title to include “Safety”, that single word generates additional issues.
Now I must use a question I witnessed one of our city council persons asking in a public meeting last month. “Are there any statistics on that?” In other words, before we enact a Rental Housing Safety Program, we need to know how many renters have been injured or killed as a direct result of rental property conditions.
None you say? Then what will the RHSP accomplish other than treat good property owners and professional property managers in an unfair manner?
Here is another question I would like to see our city council consider. If we enact a Rental Housing Safety Inspection, will the city suffer any lawsuits for discrimination in that renters will be singled out to lose their 4th Amendment rights and home owners will get to keep their 4th Amendment rights thereby creating a superior class of Lakewood citizens.
Is the city suggesting that renters, who are already protected under state law, are as a whole fairly stupid and need looking after while home owners are a superior segment of society and not in need of a safety inspection.?
Will a home owner sue the city after there is an injury or death because they did not benefit from a city safety home owner inspection?
Thinking this through, will the city one day come knocking on a homeowner’s door mandating a home owner safety inspection?
It is a clever move on the part of the city to use the term “safety”. Everyone wants safety. Let’s vote “YES” for safety without looking at the entire picture.
Where is the city going?
When the city comes knocking on my door, they are going to have to “huff and puff until they blow my door down”, because I am not letting them in.
David Wilson says
So it was never RIP. Just something landLORDS and former landLORDS are calling it.
Steve S. says
Another great column, written about an important subject, and infused with some humorous comments. Nice work!
Ken Upton says
I Like the hat idea, Joe……will they be available at the meeting tonight? I’ll be there and will wear one proudly as a member of the “Not A Slumlord ” contingent! Onward and upward,,,,,rental owners and managers must unite against this cockamamie proposal!