April 9 City Council Vote-City Council Passes Ordinance for Proactive Rental Inspections but Mayor Stothert Promises VETO
City Council voted 4-3 for a proactive rental inspection system that would start in 2020. They passed “Amendment C” proposed by Gray, Jerram, and Festeresen. This ordinance will require all properties to register, and begin a 10-year cycle of proactive inspections in 2020. Both Council President Ben Gray and Council Member Amy Melton thanked OTOC for your dedicated work on this issue. Thank you all who have shown up, called, shared posts, told your friends, stayed informed, and supported the listening, research, and action of OTOC on this years long journey to improving substandard housing in Omaha! But we’re not done yet…
Mayor Stothert is claiming she will veto the ordinance.
According to the Herald: “Stothert later said she preferred a proposal backed by the council’s three Republicans requiring city inspections of only properties with open or previous housing code violations.”
What the Mayor prefers
Mayor Stothert was referring a proposed ordinance by Council member Harding. That ordinance required inspection only of about 1,100 properties where someone had filed a complaint, the city found a code violation and the owner was unwilling or unable to make repairs after an extended period of time.
Inspecting only these so called “problem properties” repeatedly is not proactive. The Mayor’s favored approach:
- Would not have prevented the Yale Park debacle–only 2 complaints had been filed about Yale Park during the previous 3 years because vulnerable tenants do not complain. One of those 2 complaints came because an HVAC system blew up badly burning a child and City staff made the complaint. But those same city inspectors could not look at other units nearby for the same problems because there were no complaints about other units.
- Will not identify the the savvy slum lord who repairs or covers up the code violations in one apartment, but can ignore the other 9 units in his building that have the same bad plumbing, leaking windows, pest infestations etc. The City will never inspect those units unless or until each of those other 9 tenants also complain.
It will take 5 votes to override Mayor Stothert’s veto, meaning it is possible that no ordinance will be adopted and Omaha’s renters will largely remain unprotected.
Contact Mayor Stothert and let her know she should not veto this ordinance: Mayor Stothart: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402-444-5555
April 2 City Council Meeting
The Omaha City Council opted to delay the scheduled vote on the amendments to the rental inspection ordinances for one week.
OTOC had requested an extension of the vote to give leaders more time to negotiate a potential compromise with the Apartment Association of Greater Omaha, that could be enacted by the City Council.
Leaders continue to hold Yale Park as the litmus test for any proposed ordinance. If the any ordinance or its amendments would make the ordinance incapable of preventing another Yale Park, then leaders deem it insufficient.
Over the one week delay, OTOC leaders will utilize this time to continue to negotiate with the Apartment Association of Greater Omaha with the hopes of producing a meaningful compromise that is acceptable to both landlords and tenants.
Leaders also plan to continue to pressure council members to make sure that proactive inspections and a mandatory registration are included in the final ordinance. Leaders are asking that supporters aid in this push by contacting their council member and urging them to support proactive inspections.
Barring any other delays, the final vote is scheduled for the April 9th City Council meeting.