Submitted by David Anderson
A lowly frog – yes, a frog – has hopped up to the bench of the country’s highest court where the critter’s “black dorsal surface covered in warts” will be examined by none other than the black-robed members of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Oral arguments in the case of environmentalists defending the rights of frogs – even though the dusky gopher frog does not occupy the land in question – verses landowners who contend their property rights are protected by federal law will be heard October 1.
October is also the month suggested back in late-March by Washington State Representative Dick Muri’s office that fellow legislators Steve O’Ban and Christine Kilduff would likely schedule a meeting of stakeholders concerning Lakewood’s Rental Housing Safety Program.
On February 17, 2018, all three lawmakers received the following statement presented that afternoon at the 28thLegislative District Town Hall meeting held at Steilacoom City Hall.
“Lakewood’s Rental Housing Safety Program, along with such programs state-wide, need to be addressed legislatively as whatever guise or reason a city might offer by which to inspect private property, such reasons are insufficient to justify the violation of constitutional property and privacy rights.”
In other words, borrowing from the pending arguments concerning the rights of frogs verses the rights of landowners to be heard before the nine justices on 1stStreet in the other Washington, the question before the three legislators representing the 28thDistrict in the State of Washington concerning the action of the Lakewood City Council located on Main Street is similar:
Are the property and privacy rights of landowners and landlords protected by Fourth Amendment federal law against the nonconsensual search of residential rental units without a warrant?
On November 16, 2017 both Kilduff and O’Ban were asked to consider proposing legislation along the lines of what the State of Kansas had recently enacted that rescinds law in cities statewide such that no municipality can “require periodic interior inspections unless the owner or occupant consents.”
The legislation itself was “House Bill 2665 (that) would prohibit cities or counties from enacting residential property licensing laws that require periodic interior inspections unless the owner or occupant consents.”
A parallel advisory legal opinion by Florida’s Attorney General reached the same conclusion.
“A municipal code inspector is without authority to enter onto any private, commercial or residential property to assure compliance with or to enforce the various technical codes of the municipality or to conduct any administrative inspections or searches without the consent of the owner or the operator or occupant of such premises or without a duly issued search or administrative inspection warrant.”
Only Kilduff’s office responded stating that given the 2018 session was somewhat abbreviated “with a limited number of new bill ideas, perhaps this will be an idea for a future legislative session.”
That future legislative session will soon be upon us.
The meeting of stakeholders is as well.
Frogs vs. Landlords.
The time is now.