It is my opinion that any clear thinking individual can quickly conclude the City of Lakewood is treating responsible rental property owners in a discriminatory manner by lumping them in with the human rejects who own and manage slum condition properties.
I do not care how Lakewood treats slumlords. What I care about is Lakewood’s plan to victimize decent, honest, and innocent rental property owners, renters and property managers.
The vast majority of public input, both written and verbal, was against the Rental Housing Safety Program commonly known as R.I.P. That fact alone should have made it easy for Lakewood City Council to vote No on the R.I.P.
By voting Yes on the R.I.P., Lakewood City Council effectively decided to leap from the solid footing of freedom, renter self-determination, and common sense, into a canyon which equates with a government bureaucratic morass of harmful consequences.
The rocks below might be likened to such things as hostile business environment, the killing of the free enterprise, a violation of the Fourth Amendment, the confiscation of rental property owner time and money, the confiscation of the professional rental management time and money, the confiscation of renter time and money, the loss of renter privacy along with the loss of housing for renters because of rent increases, evictions, and the reduction of rental property inventory through property sales. Lakewood’s government overreach is what will generate all of these negative consequences.
The jagged rocks below have already produced a number of unintended consequences caused by Lakewood City goofs including, but not limited to 1) $200,000 cost overrun for a 1/4 million dollar defective R.I.P. computer program that cannot track re-inspections, 2) Increase in property owner re-inspection fees to compensate for Lakewood’s goof with their R.I.P. computer program, 3) Lakewood published two conflicting deadline dates for registering rental properties. 4) Lakewood mailed rental registration demand letters to citizens who do not own rental properties but instead occupy their Lakewood homes as homeowners, 5) Lakewood failed to send letters to some citizens who own rental properties but had never heard of the R.I.P. before I brought it to their attention. (NOTE: No, I will not disclose the identity of these property owners as I have no desire to support Lakewood’s plan to violate any citizen’s Fourth Amendment rights.)
What are other jagged rocks at the bottom of the canyon? One rock we know of is the Fourth Amendment rock. If Lakewood hits that rock, Lakewood may wish they had abandoned their punish everyone for the sins of a few program when they had the chance to do so.
It is possible Lakewood could miss additional rocks and do a softer landing in the water below. If that happens, Lakewood could unwind the R.I.P. before it is too late. For that to happen, a majority of Lakewood City Council members will have to step out of their slumlord fog and have the courage to do the right thing. Lakewood City Council must have the guts to admit they were wrong when they implemented the R.I.P. Plus Council must possess the ethic to do the right thing.
There is a way out for Council. All Lakewood has to do is point to the lawsuits and court decisions around the country that push back R.I.P. programs because courts judged them to be unconstitutional. That should be reason enough. Admit the mistake. Correct the mistake and move on. I could respect that kind of behavior from our political leaders.
My association with Lakewood government started with incorporation dating back to 1996. In those days, as an employee with a relationship with city government, I kept my eyes and ears open and my mouth shut.
I am well aware that Lakewood has a little known history or attitude of key people in Lakewood government taking the position, “We know something is wrong or defective, but let’s not do anything about it unless we are the target of a lawsuit.”
Any government official possessing that attitude does not properly represent the citizens of Lakewood.
David Anderson says
Yesterday (Nov.29), Mariya Frost, Director of the Coles Center for Transportation, wrote a piece published in the Washington Policy Center entitled, “Public officials say they care about public input, but often do what they want anyway.”
Frost is right.
All officials care about the Fourth Amendment, except when they don’t.
All officials say they want your vote and will represent you and then, when push-comes-to-shove, you are the one shown the door.
A case in point.
Some years ago – May 5, 2010 in fact – Lakewood’s Assistant City Manager and Community Development Director Dave Bugher was testifying before the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission about Lakewood’s opposition to Amtrak passenger trains (14 trains per day at 79 mph) by-passing the current Puget Sound waterfront route and instead paralleling I-5 to save mere minutes on the train’s Seattle to Portland run.
Bugher was asked what “community outreach was performed by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).”
Bugher replied, “Generally, the tone of these various activities” (regional meetings hosted by WSDOT) “was not one of identifying and addressing issues as much as informing the people that the project is forthcoming and refuting any concerns. In numerous cases, WSDOT’s response to our various written comments was along the lines of ‘we came and told you why that concern is invalid.’
“Community outreach seemed more geared toward telling and not asking.”
Fast-forward six years and replace WSDOT with Lakewood, the latter not pushing trains but railroading the Rental Inspection Program (RIP).
The City will claim – accurately – that informational presentations were held in various venues throughout the city concerning the RIP; and that the City Council even held a non-obligatory Public Hearing (July 5, 2016).
But it is no move believable – nor acceptable – that the City Council had any more legitimate, honest interest in what turned out to be overwhelmingly negative public response to the RIP, than it is to believe that WSDOT was genuinely concerned – to hear Bugher tell it – for the City’s grief expressed over the matter of trains running at high speed through town.
At each level, by each entity, the government was going to do what the government was going to do and the public be damned.
Ironically, the Lakewood City Council recently held a “discussion on what can be done in obtaining greater citizen input and participation at public hearings and strategizing ways to promote greater public participation.”
Actually give a rip.
Betsy Tainer says
I was so excited to see so many people taking an active roll in our elections process earlier this year. All of the cries over various issues, decisions, etc. Now finally we’d have a chance to do things differently. For so many years these people ran unchallenged… and then NOTHING. Not a single seat in Lakewood or UP was taken by a challenger.
We have the very same problem in UP where you can talk until you’re absolutely purple and then you hear crap about how they want more public participation… it’s very frustrating. They don’t listen, they don’t respond, they won’t engage and then they whine about feedback and participation.