It began as Rental Inspection Program, or RIP. The name was changed deleting the controversial ‘inspection’ and replaced with the more palatable ‘safety’ for Rental Housing Safety Program, or RHSP.
Now, a business license fee is being tacked on plus per-unit fees and giving no quarter to landlords whose property has only one rental verses those with hundreds.
“For example, a 100-unit apartment complex would be charged $60, and a landlord who owed five single family rental properties at different locations throughout the City would be charged $300.”
In the upcoming meeting of the Lakewood City Council (Nov.14), David Bugher, Assistant City Manager, will state as one of the reasons for recommending a flat business license fee of $60 with no differentiation of single-family rental properties from multi-family rental properties: “to maintain a list of existing businesses in the city (as it) can provide business contact information for the city public safety officials in the event of local emergencies” (p.22 of 105).
Lakewood doesn’t have a list already?
As a matter of fact, according to figures supplied by the City (p.36), 12,888 rentals included 2,479 vacant; 1,514 for rent; 293 for sale; and 136 occupied occasionally.
The City even listed the number of homes that were indwelt by migrant workers: one.
And where did the number 2,880 come from?
That’s the number of single-family rental properties the city says exists; and further the city says that number reflects 19 percent of the rental housing market share which alone generates $5.7 million in gross rental income; and it is then that multimillion-dollar-figure that is promoted as rationale by Bugher to the Council for charging single-family rental property owners the same rate as multi-family rental property owners.
It may not be equitable but it’s easier for the city says Bugher.
“Staff’s preference is to not use graduated fee structure (say $30 for single-family rental properties, or some other amount) since a base or flat fee is more efficient to administer.”
RIP was introduced by City staff to City Council February 21, 2015 (p.32).
Safety – then – while mentioned, appeared so almost in passing, certainly far less the focus as contrasted to the City’s desire to avoid being sued by its citizens. Seattle, for example, was cited by Lakewood has having lost in court for mandating government employees perform rental inspections. Pasco, on the other hand Lakewood said, was successful when sued given inspectors were only city-approved as opposed to city-employed.
Indeed, as opposed to safety, a good deal of the material presented to the Council February, 2015 concerned the definition of ‘inspector.’
Also at that February retreat, council members were told that “local governments may provide for a rental housing inspection program as a condition of business licensing” (p.33).
“May provide,” is not a requirement.
Lakewood didn’t have then – and still doesn’t have now or yet as it’s on the November 14 agenda – a business licensing program for rental property owners.
In other words what appears to have happened here perhaps describes how all onerous ordinances become law:
First, ensure, if you’re sued by your citizens, you’ll survive legally. Second, coat difficult-to-swallow pills with sweet-sugared terms like ‘safety’ thus helping the medicine go down. Third, assess fees, disregarding equity for the sake of efficiency.
John Arbeeny says
Follow the money……that’s what this is all about: generating revenue and expanding local government. Even the Tacoma, also known for its avarice, only charges one “license” fee per ownership entity regardless of how many properties owned by that entity. A suggestion for the Council: if you really really want to generate revenue why not charge by the number of tenants in each housing unit? Just think of all the wonderful things you could do for each of them! Why city government could be grown to the point where the current city hall couldn’t hold all the city employees hired and you know what that means……..a bright shiny brand new Taj Mahal annex!
I think there is an important instructional analogy within the just past election. I’m not getting politically partisan about it, rather just looking at the numbers. Hillary Clinton (long time in public sector) spent about $1.4 Billion ($1,400,000,000) compared to Donald Trump (long time in private sector) $735 Million ($735,000,000) and had a campaign staff approximately 10 times the size and still lost the election. Aside from political considerations………..this is an important difference between the public and private sector. Doing more with less by putting government where it belongs and out of where it doesn’t is the new mantra in Washington DC. I’d suggest that with direction from the new Trump administration to cut the size and complexity of government that the Lakewood City Council get with the program and start downsizing and “down spending” and get back to where it belongs.
Chas. Ames says
You admit you are calling it by the wrong name.
What else are you doing wrong?
David Anderson says
Without addressing the substance of the argument, or even doing so with little or no supporting evidence, places you in the bottom third of those actually capable of debate, something Paul Graham, in his “Hierarchy of Disagreement” calls vituperation.
Care to try again?
Chas. Ames says
You fail to address habitually calling the program by the wrong name.
And you see name-calling as a dialogue necessity. What third is that debate in?
David Anderson says
Joelle Renstrom writes in the November 11, 2016 edition of “The Daily Beast” about Isaac Asimov’s robots, that they “don’t have to think, judge, or value.”
To prove you are not a robot Ames, which of those did you employ in your response?
In robots, such “abstract concepts present coding problems,” writes Renstrom.
Evidently in some adults too.
For robots, and occasionally grownups, “assessing situations can be complicated. A robot,” after all, “has to identify the players, conditions, and possible outcomes for various scenarios.”
Algorithms try to address these. In robots.
Adults, some of them anyway, can’t be bothered.
Name-calling Ames? Where?
John Arbeeny says
Calling something by what it actually is, rather than a euphemism designed to hide intent, is essential in any discussion of an issue. RHSP has little to do with safety and a lot to do with tax revenue and expanding government’s reach into our lives and pockets. It is a hidden tax and you can’t put lipstick on that pig to change it. Here’s some facts. I have a rental property (single family home) in Lakewood. The City’s portion of that property’s annual real estate tax ($1977.82 total) is $168.83. Add back in the proposed annual fee for that one property of $60.00 and you’ve just increased the City’s tax on that property to $228.83: a 35% increase in the tax I pay to Lakewood for the pleasure of owning a rental in Lakewood. Add in the recent $20.00 car tab fee because the city council hasn’t figured out how to manage its transportation funding and you see where we are headed.
Twyla Worthy says
I will add to the disgruntled owners of rental property about City Hall’s ‘safety’ ‘inspection program’. Property owners, how and when do we ban together to get this ridiculous idea abandoned, once and for all??? I’m ready to sign or do whatever is necessary. I totally agree it is just another money-maker City Hall has dreamed up and NO ONE seems to be happy, so HOW and WHEN do we get it repealed???i
David Anderson says
Still working on the possibility of a referendum. Waiting on the results of public records requests.
Joseph Boyle says
It amazes me how property owners and property management companies have not banned together to form a voice.
From my vantage point the only two people who have done anything are Mr. David Anderson and myself. We have testified at City Council. The two of us have written probably 20 articles or more.
I have seen no action from anyone else. Someone needs to step up as a leader and form a Lakewood Property Owners Association (LPOA) and then organize to fight Lakewood’s ridiculous money grab.
The LPOA should hire a real estate attorney if they wish to effectively do battle with this onerous ordinance.
You may wonder why I do not take the lead. There are lots of reasons, the most important of which is I retired from rental property ownership before local government created this new environment which is hostile to property owners.
David Anderson says
There are 43 articles that have been published on this subject, to be exact. In excess of 100,000 words including comments, estimated. All are being reviewed for talking points for the likely debates once a referendum is filed (already drafted for attorney review) – a likely possibility once the results of Public Records Requests are known, those promised by the City before the end of the month. The suspicion is that not all is as it appears behind the scenes as the Rental Inspection program was being developed. We shall see.
Should those record requests reveal what is suspected, and made known, the organizational aspect should develop quickly by which to pool resources to pay an attorney to review the petition ensuring it’ll pass legal muster.
That shot has already been fired across the bow. When appealing to our elected officials to represent what appears to be a significant portion of Lakewood’s citizens in opposition to the Rental Inspection program – asking whether in fact Ord. 644 was subject to referendum, this was one response:
“It would be foolish for me, as an elected official, to use my best judgment in making the tough decision to pass the Rental Housing Safety Program, only to assist you in attempting to expose the city to the needless expense of a ballot measure which I personally would oppose and which I believe would be doomed to fail.”
Ria J Covington Johnson says
Lakewood Community & Economic Development Department, Rental Registration Coordinator, (253) 589-2489, cityoflakewood/rentals.us
Rental Housing Safety Program “will protect the public health, safety and welfare of tenants by encouraging proper maintenance of residential housing, by identifying and requiring correction of substandard housing conditions, and by preventing conditions of deterioration and blight that could adversely impact the quality of life in Lakewood.”
Where Do the Fees go and what will it be spent on? I hope Repair and Renovations. I enjoyed reading Mr. Andersons Letter : http://thesubtimes.com/2016/11/11/letter-rip-becomes-rottener/
There is more info to review, but if you have additional ideas please drop a line anytime: we4Ria.com
My Motto: Quality Policy over Convenient Policy