Editorials

Rental inspections are dead. So why does SLO still need a special election on housing?

San Luis Obispo voters will decide this summer whether to adopt an ordinance that supporters say would end discrimination in city housing policies while city officials say it could harm housing programs for the poor and elderly.
San Luis Obispo voters will decide this summer whether to adopt an ordinance that supporters say would end discrimination in city housing policies while city officials say it could harm housing programs for the poor and elderly.

Good news, SLO voters!

You thought you would have to wait until 2018 to go to the polls, right?

Well, thanks to former City Councilman Dan Carpenter and attorneys Stew Jenkins and Dan Knight, you get to exercise your constitutional right to vote in a special election later this year. And it will only cost you and your fellow taxpayers between $119,000 and $158,000 to decide whether to permanently ban rental inspections … as well as all other forms of discrimination in housing!

Ridiculous?

We agree. We hoped Dan and Co. would be satisfied when the City Council rescinded the rental inspection ordinance that was the object of their scorn, as well as the subject of a successful petition drive. Instead, they chose to force the city’s hand by filing the petitions anyway, leaving the City Council with the choice of adopting language in the petition or putting the matter to a vote.

The council wisely chose to call for an election, which means you’ll be voting on whether the city should adopt a “nondiscrimination in housing” law.

That sounds like a noble principle, but city officials worry the anti-discrimination language could be used to challenge other city programs that favor certain groups, such as low-income families that benefit from the city’s affordable housing program or mobile home residents who come under the umbrella of rent stabilization.

In a memo to the mayor, Jenkins said it would not affect existing housing programs, so this will likely come down to dueling legal interpretations … as well as a lot of time, money and effort wasted on an election forced by a trio of men who don’t know to quit while they’re ahead.

To Carpenter, Jenkins and Knight, we offer a rented ballot box stuffed with uninspected brickbats.

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