Members of the Council’s Community Development Committee — after Councilman Mark Jessie, D-3rd Ward, failed to get a motion on the floor to approve legislation geared toward registration and exterior inspections — set a plan in place to have one additional meeting followed by a vote May 27.
“I don’t want this to go one more meeting longer than it has to,” Marcus Madison, D-5th Ward, said Monday. “I don’t want to keep pushing this on to October. I say one more meeting, and then I’m voting.”
In October, the city will change the computer software in the Building Department, making it a more ideal time to start a program. However, most Council members said they believe requiring all landlords to register their properties with the city and consenting to exterior-only inspections is a compromise they can live with and that shouldn’t be delayed until October.
“We could talk about this until we are blue in the face and get nowhere,” said Councilwoman Donna Mitchell, D-6th Ward. “We have to start somewhere.”
Council members still have questions about fees, and landlords are not happy with the proposal. They have attended meetings in droves.
“We’re good landlords. We screen our tenants,” Robert Perine said. “I believe every square inch of this city should be registered so we know what it is, who’s living there and who the tenants or occupants are. But how far we take this is something we have to look at very closely.”
Frustrations from repeated conversations on this issue boiled over into outbursts from several people at Monday’s City Council meeting.
At one point, a man from the audience began screaming at Council members over the proposed fees and whether a cap should be put in place to limit the amount owners of multiple properties should pay.
“One thousand, two hundred dollars is a tenth of what I make in a year,” said the agitated man, who left as soon as the meeting was over. “If you want to take $1,200 from me, at least get a gun. You’re robbing me anyway.”
Councilman Tom Callahan, D-at large, was unnerved by the interruption.
The night — made even longer due to severe weather that forced everyone in the building to seek shelter in an interior office — included “a lot of spirited debate and energy on the Council floor,” he said.