A Bowling Green Council committee on Monday voted to send a section of proposed rental legislation on for consideration by the full council – but the work isn’t over yet.
The Community Improvement Committee forwarded a section of the ordinance dealing with rental registration on to council. Another meeting on rental legislation is planned for tonight.
Tackling the rental licensing, registration and inspection issue has been on council’s to-do list for a number of years. In January 2020, the committee was tasked with investigating the topic and determining if there was a need for licensing, registration and inspections in the city. They held a total of seven meetings and submitted a report with recommendations to the larger council in early April of 2020. However, by that time the coronavirus pandemic had taken hold and further work on the issue was postponed.
In November, a special meeting was held to review the previous work and determine next steps. Early last month, the committee met to discuss the registration portion, and voted on two changes suggested by Councilman Bill Herald – specifically to add definitions of “bedroom” and “landlord” to the ordinance’s definitions section, and to add certain portions of section 153.03 of the city’s codified ordinances, which deal with landlord exemptions under the city’s fair housing ordinance, to the legislation.
However, during Monday’s meeting, the committee unanimously voted to pass the legislation on to council without the definitions section and with the repeated portions of section 153.03 removed.
In short, under the proposed registration ordinance, landlords owning rental property within the city would be required to register each individual unit. Additionally, if a landlord lives beyond 35 miles from Bowling Green, that landlord would be expected to have a manager within 35 miles. Further, if there are any changes in ownership of the property, that property must be re-registered.
The committee discussed the proposed language prior to voting, as well as a draft rental registration form. Members offered comments and posed questions regarding some sections, including section 121.08, dealing with registration enforcement. As written, a violation or failure to comply would result in a civil citation of $250 per week that each dwelling unit is not registered.
Herald raised concerns, noting that if a complex in violation had six units, for example, that could mean multiple instances of a $250 fine per week.
“$250 per week in the scenario that Bill outlines just seems a bit lofty to me,” said Councilman Jeff Dennis, also a committee member.
City Attorney Mike Marsh said that likely there wouldn’t be issues with large landlords, saying he thought issues with enforcement will come from landlords living far away who “we can’t find them and we can’t make them comply.”
“I think in the name of moving this along to the full council, 10 times or six times $250 does seem excessive to me, also,” said Councilman John Zanfardino. “But I don’t think we need to decide this right now.”
He said he also agreed with Marsh’s assessment that they likely wouldn’t see issues in the large complexes. Zanfardino acknowledged that there likely would be parsing of the legislation’s language later.
The committee is set to meet tonight at 6 at the Veterans Memorial building in City Park to further discuss rental legislation. Zanfardino said Monday that they expect to allow for the first 45 minutes of the meeting to include public comment before the committee goes into its own deliberations.
Also, during Monday’s regular council meeting, Councilman Greg Robinette discussed a report outlining progress that has been made based on suggestions from the Community Action Plan and the East Wooster Street strategic white paper.
Robinette noted that in April of 2018, council identified 10 items as priorities for implementation from the CAP; the CAP itself identified 61 individual priority items. He said that between April 2018 and March 2021, 31 individual CAP priorities have been implemented.
He noted that the East Wooster Street white paper was published in February 2019, and in 2019 and 2020 council developed the Gateway Zoning District as a result of its recommendations. That, he said, “creates a significant opportunity for development of the East Wooster Street corridor near downtown.”
“I think most of the time, some of the things we do… kind of get lost and people aren’t aware that progress is being made all the time,” Council President Mark Hollenbaugh said to Robinette. “Thank you for being instrumental in putting this together for us.”