Bowling Green Council’s Community Improvement Committee held its 13th meeting on the topic of rental registration, licensing and inspections Thursday, voting to forward a revised draft of an inspection checklist on to council.

“Our goal is to make this the final meeting tonight,” said committee chair John Zanfardino.

He said that there would be a subsequent council committee of the whole meeting, and any legislation resulting from that would receive three readings. He said there would still be plenty of opportunity for communication on the issue.

The committee was assigned to work on the topic in January 2020, but a hiatus in their work from April 2020 until this past November was caused by the pandemic. Council is currently considering a portion of the legislation that would create a rental registration program.

“We’ve had 13 meetings, and we’ve been using a (legislation) draft provided by the administration as a springboard for much of these discussions,” Zanfardino said on Thursday, “and have been looking at the administration’s draft and suggesting revisions. Basically, to be succinct, in my opinion the draft created by the administration is pretty much a self-inspection system. And what I believe is, we need to go beyond a self-inspection system into something with a bit more… oversight.”

He said the committee will be recommending to council that, whatever checklist is to be used in the inspections, it needs to be signed by one or more tenants “just to move away from self-inspection to have a bit of validation by another interested party.”

He also said that one item the committee has been discussing, and that he personally feels strongly about, is that self-inspection “again, has no real oversight. It’s inspecting one’s own business. So we’ve talked about including some type of randomization or randomized audits of the self-inspections that are created. And another thing that has been suggested is we can maybe target those audits.”

He said that one concept is to target converted houses of a certain age, and then move forward through the years.

“I just wanted to review where I believe we’re at,” he said. “We’ve been at some disagreement” as to what percentage of targeted inspections there should be.

Zanfardino said that, in his mind, it was time to move it on to the full council, with the understanding that the committee agrees there should be some additional inspection aspect beyond self-reporting and “we’ll have the full council derive what percent that might me.”

Zanfardino noted that the committee had also been tasked with developing a checklist for use in a resulting licensing system.

“The draft (legislation) that was created by the city included a checklist which I believe is a very impressive list of considerations for renting.”

He said that since their last meeting, at the committee’s request, the administration’s draft checklist was circulated to the East Side neighborhood group and the landlord association for feedback.

“We have heard nothing back from the landlords but we have gotten feedback from the East Side neighborhood group,” Zanfardino said.

He said the group made some additions to the administration’s list, and they “put a ‘yes’ column, a ‘no’ column, and, if no, please explain” to checklist items.

He suggested that this revised draft be routed to council for their deliberation and consideration.

Committee members Jeff Dennis and Bill Herald said they liked the East Side group’s draft.

Herald said he was “very impressed” with their version and, with some tweaking, he “would be very comfortable with passing that along” to council.

“I think this is probably a very good starting point for the larger group to begin a discussion,” said Dennis.

Herald moved that the draft checklist be submitted to the full council with some minor tweaks of wording. The committee voted unanimous approval.

Herald also proposed that a section of exemptions in the rental registration legislation before council be substituted for a more comprehensive section of exemptions in the proposed inspection portion of the legislation. It was agreed that they would bring the matter up with council.

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