On The Eve of Another Council Housing Committee Meeting.........
The 2nd meeting of New Albany Common Council’s “Committee on Housing” is this Wednesday evening at 6 PM in the 3rd floor assembly room in the City/ County building.
This whole process has caused quite a stir within neighborhood groups, local realtor organizations, landlord’s coffee breaks, bar’s, pub’s, blogs, and various city government offices.
Those opposed to any accountability for their business practices ( Ooops I forgot…rental housing is not a business silly boy!) have resorted to calling advocates of such measures to solicit support! Say what??
In their latest contribution to the cause, the folks over at the premier (Hrrrmmm!) community affairs blog (Freedom of Speech) went to great lengths to tell us what we already knew.
We also have read the New Albany Code Book thank you! We've found it wanting in some areas.
They also informed us that Code enforcement Officer Pam Badger was well versed in wading thru the 4+ separate local government entities to determine who owned a particular piece of property as she is also a part time employee of the assessor’s office.
Well excuse me maam, err…sir, but she is the first city official (there have since been many others) to tell me how difficult, time consuming, and many times dead end that process is. This wheel is broken and we are merely suggesting ways of fixing it.
At any rate being as I have nothing better to with my time (cough, choke) I went to the sacred halls of the City/county Building and looked for myself.
After asking many questions of again, many offices I’ve finally learned how to read much of the hieroglyphics involved in ascertaining the genealogy of a given parcel of land in this city.
What I’ve found is very enlightening. There parcels listed on the tax roles as vacant lots that have houses sitting on them.
There are houses in single family zoned areas that have been made into multifamily living quarters that never went thru the process of acquiring the proper variances’ to operate as such.
And my personal favorite, there are instances of homeowner homestead exemptions on multiple properties of the same ownership. I always thought that was a one per customer gig. Perhaps I am mistaken. If so I’m sure FOS will let me know.
Now before someone starts on the Building Commissioner, Zoning & Planning, the Code Enforcement Officer, etc know this. There are within New Albany Township, there are well in excess of 22,000 parcels of land.
To expect any of the above mentioned offices to do other than put out wildfires as they pop up is ludicrous. With the budgets, staff, & resources they have at their disposal just keeping up with new construction is cramming 12 hours into an 8 hour day everyday.
I can attest that when they become aware of a problem they proceed to do what they can as quickly as they can. Having said that, once it leaves their desk to the next step in the process, it invariably drops off into the abyss.
Hence our suggestions of ways to make their jobs just a little easier.
Hence rental property & abandoned housing registration.
Hence requiring that a responsible party live in or around New Albany (i.e. a surrounding county)
Hence the concept of investigating how other cities around the country deal with these issues and possibly adopting them for New Albany.
By the way, it is our belief that if our Council has the intestinal fortitude to pass legislation that gets deep into the pockets of those who choose to ignore the law and our Mayor’s administration (i.e. law department) has the political will to uphold said legislation thru the courts when necessary, we can see a difference within our city without raising taxes and breaking the bank.
In other words, the fines should pay for the costs of collecting them and the additional staff to do so.
It’s only money folks and our Council President Gahan assured me recently that there is plenty of it here in New Albany. Sounds to me like we just aren’t collecting it.