You would think I would have run out of material and would find myself unable to write one more article regarding Lakewood’s proposed Rental Registration & Safety Inspection Program (RRSIP). Amazingly the RRSIP is such a bad idea on so many levels, there seems to be no end to the negative concerns I can write about.
The city has concluded that we have Lakewood renters living in slum conditions. They are correct about that and I support our city council’s effort to solve the problem.
The current solution proposed by the city punishes everyone instead of targeting the problem slumlords. Even excellent rental operators will be victimized by the RRSIP.
What is really crazy is that while the RRSIP punishes and victimizes everyone the program will not even work on an acceptable effective level. There is talk of a rental inspection lottery, because the city cannot inspect all 13,700 + / – rentals in one year.
If the lottery makes the cut for the final plan design, it might well be like jury duty. Some citizens are called for jury duty over and over again, while other citizens are never called. Imagine an excellent rental operator being inspected year after year and another property owner who is a slumlord never being inspected.
Additionally, when an inspector enters a multi-unit complex, he may not inspect all the units. While that procedure makes sense on one level, let’s not kid ourselves about this being a safety program. If safety is the goal, every unit should be inspected every single year.
Current law dictates that the city cannot “target” properties. In other words the city does not think they can inspect the obviously derelict properties leaving the excellent properties out of the process. They feel forced to inspect all properties. Besides there is more fee money that can flow into the city bank account if all properties are mandated to participate even if they are never inspected.
So if the RRSIP turns into a crap shoot, not only is it a bad plan, it does not even solve the slumlord problem. It could be years before any particular slum property is inspected.
Maybe the city should consider letting the tenants, who are adults, take some responsibility. The tenant calls the city. The city helps the tenant solve the problem. If the tenant does not call for help, then that is on them. If the city discovers the problem some other way, they can try to wade in. The benefit of keeping the responsibility where it belongs is that innocent citizens are not dragged into someone else’s problem by default.
One member of our city council expressed that he does not like my use of words like victim, victimization or punish. He wants me to stick to the facts. Perhaps city council is blind when it comes to how their current idea will negatively impact innocent Lakewood citizens. If you are the innocent citizen stuck on the end of the city spear, it is easy to see that you have been victimized by the city program. These words become entirely appropriate.
I invite someone from the city to tell me I am wrong or if the lottery idea has been dropped to inform us of that good news.
In the mean time, City Council, please roll the dice again and come up with a plan that will solve the problem in a fair an equitable manner.