Some Old Habits Die Really, Really Hard!
My Momma brought me up the old fashioned way. Hug’s & kisses for job well done. A Hickory switch across the back of the legs for antisocial behavior. (I got to hand pick the switch from the tree!)
One of the most egregious behaviors (mine) was interrupting when someone else was speaking. (Wait until you’re recognized! Raise your hand!)
Although those precepts are from a bygone era, I’m having a hard time adjusting. The memory of that Hickory switch still stings. ( By the way, I finally pulled a George Washington and drove several boxes of nails in the damned tree in an attempt to kill it!)
So Wednesday past I came to the Council Committee meeting with a prepared statement and politely waited to be recognized while most of the room took control of the meeting.
Finally, three speakers after John Gonder issued a last call, I broke training, elbowed my way to the podium and presented my speech. Unfortunately by that time many of those who really needed to hear it (Dan Coffey, the press, some of the most outspoken opponents) had already left.
So here it is in its entirety for all to read. I’m sure it will get out this way in spite of the claims of many that they never read the blogs!
Our goal is to construct a way to make it easier for the Code Enforcement entities of the City of New Albany to do their respective jobs in a more timely manner. Those entities as pertains to this discussion being the Code Enforcement Officer(s), the Building Commissioners office, the Planning & Zoning Office, and the City Attorneys Office.
As it stands currently there is way too much time involved in getting from point A to point B.
Lack of staff, lack of funding, & lack of other resources all play a part in this calamity.
However, one of the biggest hurdles occurs early on in the process. That being identifying who the responsible party for a given parcel is as well as how to contact that individual.
Admittedly for an owner occupied home that is usually (though not always) a relatively simple task. (Even for me)
However when it comes to rental housing, the process becomes much more difficult.
People buy groups of housing at sheriffs auctions. Some of these buyers are local folks while others live in other states or even other countries.
Title of said properties are not always transferred & recorded in a timely manner.
People walk away from mortgages and the properties land in foreclosure proceedings.
Business entities change their names from one LLC to another without recording said change with the city/county.
And the list goes on. But the point is someone has to wade thru this paperwork jungle to get to the source which in many instances, does not want to be found.
The result is we find utter rat holes being inhabited (legally or not) and no contact source to deal with them.
Verbal rental agreements with no lease. (It’s happening in New Albany!!)
Multiple families in single family dwellings without variances’ to do so.
(It’s happening in New Albany!!)
Furnaces venting directly into living quarters. (It’s happening in New Albany!!)
Raw sewage in basements or under houses. (It’s happening in New Albany!!)
Bare wiring, leaking roofs, commodes falling thru floorboards, and on and on and on. ( It’s happening in New Albany)
Add to all that tenants who are too afraid of being put on the street to complain and landlords who can’t be found and you have the reasons we are here this evening. That being unsafe, unhealthy housing that someone somewhere is making a profit off of while the property values around it are going down the drain.
So we come to our proposed solutions that we think are fair and that do not have to break the bank. These suggestions are not or our origin but come from other cities around Indiana and other states who have dealt effectively with similar situations.
1) A requirement that all rental and abandoned housing be registered with the city free of charge within 60 days of passage.
2) A contact person living either within the City of New Albany or in an adjacent county (Floyd, Clark, Harrison, or Jefferson, KY) be listed with the registration. This person having either the authority to take action or able to contact the owner in a timely fashion to resolve whatever issues may arise with said property.
3) A stiff fine structure be established that will be levied for non compliance of both the registration and upkeep of said property after a predetermined time has elapsed, (10 days, 30 days, etc) Once again examples from other cities range from $50 per day to several hundred dollars per day.
4) A verbal public commitment from the administration and City Attorney to when necessary take appropriate measures thru the courts to assure compliance with these and other codes already on the books as they pertain to all building issues be they housing, rental, or commercial.
I can see no unfairness here towards anyone who is putting forth the effort maintain their property at minimally acceptable standards.
Those who can’t or won’t should no longer be allowed to do so at our expense both as taxpayers and a city as a whole.
If we can get these concepts in place the City of New Albany can begin the process of once again becoming a safe, healthy, & prosperous place to live.
In the hall after it was all over my very on Councilman Steve Price walked over to say that it was a good speech and to inquire if I had written it myself. Yes Steve and thanks for asking!
Later today I’m going to do another post on the meeting and hopefully shed some more light on some of the side issues raised.
Is it true that some people get paid for research and consulting services?