Renters’ Rights Ordinances pass


At the Gainesville City Commission meeting on September 17, Mayor Lauren Poe suggested reintroducing general public comment into the city commission’s regular meetings. He recommended 30 minutes general public comment at the beginning of their afternoon sessions, and he proposed allowing people to call in before the meeting and leave a message up to 3 minutes long. After the recorded messages are played, live public comment will be taken if there is any time left. The Clerk will investigate the technology options and come back with a proposal at the October 15 meeting.

During comments on the motion, Nathan Skop said he was concerned that the plan was “subject to being gamed” because comments that are favorable to the commission could be selected to fill up the time, leaving no time for live public comment. 

The commission voted 5-1 to consider this again in October, with Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos in dissent and Commissioner Gigi Simmons absent.

Property Maintenance Code 

The commission next considered the second reading of two bills that make up the “Renters Rights Ordinance.” The first part adopted a modified version of the International Property Maintenance Code that will apply to all residential and non-residential structures, not just rentals. This completely replaces the previous housing and commercial property maintenance code. Jo Beaty called in during public comment and said, “It seems that COVID is being used to rush through a lot of things that the public really doesn’t know about… As I understand, this applies to all homes, not just rentals… And I think you’re just taking advantage of a bad situation, and I think you need to slow down. I urge you not to pass this tonight.” The ordinance passed unanimously, with Simmons absent, although she sent the commission a memo before the meeting, expressing her support.

Regulation of rental units

The second reading of the ordinance regarding the regulation of rental units was next. The ordinance changes the landlord fee to $122, which is calculated to cover the costs of administering the new program. The ordinance also includes inspections on rental properties, on a rotating basis, every 4 years. It’s primarily focused on creating energy-efficient rental property. It excludes public lodging establishments that are already regulated under state law.

Nathan Skop was the first caller during public comment: “This Renters’ Rights Ordinance is going to result in increased rents, going to result in less affordable housing. You guys don’t seem to grasp that basic economic concept… The landlords will be forced to pass these costs on to the renters, or they’re going to sell their property, which is going to result in more demonstrated lack of affordable housing than now. And for the record, one political faction has run our City Hall for over two decades now, and you guys have failed to solve the affordable housing problem before it became a crisis of your own making… This city commission admitted during the last hearing of the ordinance that you’re going to have to create a fund to subsidize and provide financial relief to people that are displaced from this ordinance, your own policy. You guys are admitting before this is even enacted that the policy is going to be a failure because it’s going to displace people.”

A representative from GACAR said their analysis showed that the cost of the permit should be $65-$89, based on the July 16 presentation on the costs of the program. “You say we can figure it out as we go, but it is the renter that has to pay the costs as they’re passed along, or the rental is sold, leaving less rentals available. Is this really the best course of action? We oppose this.”

Darlene Pifalo predicted there would be fewer rentals available in the future: “Mark my words. Check next year with the landlord permits and see how many people do not get landlord permits.”

Debbie Martinez said the biggest issue for most renters is their GRU bill. Speaking about her experience talking to residents while canvassing voters, she said, “Because of the multibillion dollar biomass tree burner plant, they could no longer afford to turn on their air conditioners. They were able to turn them on prior to the multibillion dollar biomass tree burner. But now they’re forced to live in mold-infested homes because they couldn’t afford to turn their air conditioning on anymore.”

The motion passed unanimously, with Simmons absent.

  • And the communist and racist leaders have spoken…
    If you don’t like it move to Hoboken,
    We’ll just sit around in our little circle tokin,
    We don’t really care what you were hoping,
    The people who elected us were too stupid,
    Too dumb to see we only courted them like Cupid,
    Now we’re here and nothing they can do,
    Other than deal with it and eat our poo.

    All the left wingnuts can thank THEIR elected leaders.

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