SLO leaders look for community-based solutions to rental housing inspection program

Councilwoman Andy Pease
Councilwoman Andy Pease

As a community, we share a common goal for healthy and safe housing. How that is done, however, has been a topic of robust conversation ever since the city of San Luis Obispo adopted a rental housing inspection program in May 2015.

Now that the program has been in effect for more than a year and concerns have been expressed about it, the City Council wants to hear what you think about the program’s future.

At 6 p.m. Thursday, the City Council will hold a special meeting to focus on ideas and next steps concerning rental housing. The meeting is set up as a community-based workshop to be held in the Veterans Memorial Building at 801 Grand Ave. in San Luis Obispo.

Professional facilitators will lead us through a process to understand the primary drivers behind the current rental housing inspection program, share what we have collectively learned over the past year and identify potential alternatives. It is important that all voices are heard — renters and landlords, students and nonstudents, neighbors, Cal Poly and Cuesta representatives, Realtors and property managers, all ages and backgrounds.

We have received a lot of feedback about the current program. Many hate it, some love it and many more have provided a resounding “meh,” either because it hasn’t impacted them or whatever participation they had was a nonissue. There have been success stories; inspections have identified profoundly dangerous conditions that have been corrected. There also have been heartbreaking stories of renters forced to leave their homes and owners unable to keep up with payments without the rental income.

Some longtime residents have noted a marked improvement in the upkeep of rental properties. Others are concerned about privacy and government fees.

As a community, we need to hear all of these views and many more. We need to review our goals for a rental housing program, which include health and safety and neighborhood wellness, but also respect for privacy, housing security and affordability. Even more broadly, we may look to shared values including empowerment, fairness, accountability and stewardship.

I look forward to the workshop as a way to replace or improve the rental housing inspection program. And more broadly, I look forward to a process where our residents come together to listen and share and come up with our own best solutions.

Hope to see you there.

Andy Pease is a member of the San Luis Obispo City Council.

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