NOW IS THE TIME TO CONTACT ELECTED OFFICIALS ABOUT AMENDING THE BUDGET TO PROPERLY ENFORCE EXISTING HOUSING CODES.
BUDGET ADOPTION IS SCHEDULED FOR MAY 11, 2015 and....
You and others affected have an opportunity to speak up on these issues on Tues, April 14, 5pm at the Fire Department budget hearing at Foster Center Room 211, at other budget hearings, at “City Hall on the Road” onThurs, April 23, 6pm, 2500 S. Washington, and by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
The Mayor's budget recommendation includes NO changes to code enforcement positions. What is needed is an additional SEVEN FTEs dedicated to rental housing inspections (in addition to the current 3.5 FTE dedicated for this purpose). Six votes of city council are needed to amend the budget and uphold mayoral vetos.
See attached comparison chart showing our code enforcement staffing levels. Ingham County is now 5th worst in Michigan for “severe housing problems.”
Under the current staffing levels:
a) We cannot increase rental inspection frequency from the current 2-3 years for each property to an annual inspection (as is the standard in EL and Meridian), so our housing inspection frequency, and quality, will continue to lag behind that of our neighbors.
b) Our code officers are not able to go back and visually re-inspect to ensure violations are corrected in rental housing, due to time restrictions. Instead, they accept a letter from the property owner stating that changes were made. This was reported on by City Pulse last year and has been confirmed by officers that they simply do not have time to re-inspect and this is the protocol, to accept a letter and "pass" the property for compliance.
c) Under the current staffing levels, we cannot adopt a process whereby the city would make corrections of unresolved rental property violations and charge the cost of those repairs to the property owner, which is common in other communities. We simply do not have the staff time to administer this process, which again, could pay for itself if admin fees were established and charged when such repairs need to be made by the city. BEING ABLE TO GET REPAIRS MADE IS VITAL TO PRESERVING OUR HOUSING STOCK!!!
d) Under the current staffing levels, we do not have the staffing support needed to create a landlord licensing program.
e) Under the current staffing levels, enforcement for premise violations (trash, grass, weeds, disabled vehicles) will always lag behind what it should be, because there is only one dedicated premise officer, and the other officers also handle numerous other responsibilities in addition to premise.
If fees for rental registrations and inspections were adjusted and/or a landlord licensing program were created to distribute the cost of this to the owners of rental property, the cost would be approximately $20/year in additional cost per rental unit to rental property owners.
Or increased fees could applied to properties with violations.
There are about 30,000 rental properties in Lansing. $600,000 / 30,000 = $20.
If existing/established fees were being charged for re-inspection (which they aren't) and/or other fees were adjusted slightly, these staffing increase would not need to come from the city general fund.
Please take a moment to look at page 3 of the attached PDF and see what the fees and rules are in neighboring areas.
This means about $600,000 in budget amendments for this purpose that would have to supported by 5 members of council and upheld by 6 if the Mayor tries to veto.