Council tables housing standards and rental licensing program

Galesburg Mayor John Pritchard says that ordinances on housing standards and rental licensing are a good step in addressing Galesburg housing issues.

But those ordinances did not get a vote last night.

They were tabled after over an hour of conversation from council members and later several comments from the public.

Peter Schwartzman says council has gone the down the road of stricter enforcement previously without success.

Jeremy Karlin and Wayne Dennis they do not trust landlords to police themselves through self inspections, which the ordinance would allow some landlords to do. “If this is the city’s response to what is a stated priority of our community I would hate to see the city’s response to something that was not,” said Karlin.

Alderman Angela Bastian didn’t like the idea of holding rental properties to a different standard than owner occupied homes.

City Manager Todd Thompson says theoretically they could hire a company to perform annual inspections but he assumed that would be unpopular.

When Fire Chief Tom Simkins was asked if he recommends approval of these ordinances said, “this is better than not having an ordinance.”

The ordinance now mentions the fire department in regards to inspections even though the planning department now does inspections, and Simkins says something needs to be done to allow that to happen.

While the ordinance requires a homeowner’s consent it does allow an inspector to enter also if a court grants a search warrant.

Alderman Russel Fleming said this still concerns him, “We got some homeowners – I know a few – that would just as soon shoot somebody then let somebody in their house. He added, “and what’s going to happen if some innocent inspector, some innocent policeman is going to get killed because we’ve overstepped.”

Flemming recommended enforcing standards already on the books. He says for some run down homes an owner may not be able to afford bringing their house up to code.

Ultimately though alderman couldn’t come to an agreement and the ordinances were tabled for now.

Mayor John Pritchard says the ordinance is a “substantial change” in that it forces landlords to have a license which can be revoked.

Currently under the system where you have to be registered that’s not the case.