The results of a survey of the strength of Lakewood’s rental market are in.
Lakewood’s City Council initially considered a survey – in fact “a robust tenant/landlord outreach educational program” (p.9 of 12) – when deliberating how best to address substandard housing in the city, but opted instead to pass (August 1) the controversial Rental Inspection Program (RIP), Ordinance No. 644.
Granted, Lakewood’s recently completed Apartment Survey wasn’t intended to inquire as to adequate food preparation space or wattage of light bulbs, just two of the 69 RIP items (seven pages) to be checked by a city-approved inspector.
And the results of Lakewood’s Apartment Survey were based on responses from only 1,882 rental units – represented by 11 “apartment communities” – in contrast to the estimated 13,700 rental units whose thresholds Lakewood will start crossing to inspect interiors potentially by the end of this year.
In the wide, wide net (every rental unit, every landlord, with few exceptions) Lakewood is casting over the city, RIP architects anticipate ensnaring 10-15 percent that – according to Lakewood’s checklist – don’t measure up. This percentage of so-called slumlords is based on figures Lakewood says exists typically in cities elsewhere with similar programs.
Interestingly, 10 percent of 13,700 estimated total rental units in Lakewood – the bad guys – is significantly less than the 1,882 rental units that were surveyed to show Lakewood’s rental happy side.
Rather ironic that a survey could basically do – certainly round up as many or more on the plus side of the ledger – what “a robust tenant/landlord outreach educational program” might have done to correct deficiencies.
Were it even tried.
But it wasn’t.
And yet how did the year-and-a-half missing shopping cart study end up – the study that Public Safety Advisory Committee members were tasked to recommend to council an ordinance concerning derelict and abandoned grocery four-wheelers?
No ordinance. Rather a letter.
The Police Chief wrote a letter to the most likely stores whose carts were cluttering the landscape and asked for their cooperation.
And the Council approved that letter.
No law. Rather a letter.
But not RIP. The Council bypassed a rather simple and similar communication piece and instead crafted an onerous law with details yet to be determined by which to inspect every single rental unit, good, bad and ugly.
Ironic that when Lakewood wanted to know how satisfied citizens were with their city, they took a survey.
When Lakewood launched its page for its Community Vision Plan, giving residents a chance to chart the course of their community, they took a survey.
When Lakewood’s City Council intimated the possibility that in 2013-14 they would be asking Lakewood voters “to raise property taxes to pay for road work and street maintenance,” they took a “Street and Parks” survey that appeared to be gauging public support for the tax increase.
When citizens complained that the council “has steadfastly refused to reach out and feel the pulse of the people,” (Ed Kane, American Community Journal, Vol.2, No. 01, p.1, February, 2003) and the issue was the 2003 launching by activist groups of a petition drive to bring the initiative/referendum process to the city, finally, after two years of debate, the city council – which had balked all along opposing the people’s right to decide matters via initiative and referendum – put it to an advisory vote agreeing to abide by the peoples’ decision. Initiative and Referendum passed 72 to 28 percent.
All of which perhaps explains why controversial matters are decided by the council, everything else decided by survey.