Yep. The Fayetteville Observer had a story this morning by the Democrat minority’s chief stenographer Paul Woolverton which would make you believe just that:
A state law passed in June has forced Fayetteville to postpone the enforcement of new rules meant to crack down on crime-ridden, dilapidated rental properties.
City leaders struggled for three years to develop regulations that would target problem properties while not punishing responsible landlords. After controversy and compromise over fees and scope, the City Council approved the regulations in April and planned to enforce them July 1.
But the state legislation took most of the teeth out of Fayetteville’s rental property ordinance, said Assistant City Manager Doug Hewett. The law, Senate Bill 683, imposes strict limits on how a city can regulate rentals.
Despite the setback, “there is still strong desire for us to develop a program that addresses the repeated problem rental residential programs in our community,” Hewett said last week …
The Fayetteville City Council voted unanimously in April to enact the program, called PROP – or Probationary Rental Occupancy Permit.
Under PROP, landlords whose property becomes a source of problems, such as repeated noise complaints, unsafe conditions, junked cars or ongoing criminal activity, would see their property put into a probationary status. While on probation, the property is subject to $500 in annual fees, plus additional fines if there are more code violations.
In all, the city defined 10 problems or activities that could land a property into the PROP program.
The new state law will make it much harder for Fayetteville to put properties into probation, Hewett said. The law would force the city to wait for a landlord to break the rules three times in a year before the city could take action.
The state restrictions disappoint Stella Mullen of the Massey Hill Community Watch. She and others from community watches have sought a rental inspection ordinance for years as a tool to reduce crime and decay in their neighborhoods.
“I understand the thought that, ‘Well, there’s too much government, there’s too much regulation,’ ” Mullen said. “But sometimes you need regulation. You need to have some kind of a proper guideline, or else people are going to – it’s not going to be done correctly.”
Bad landlords in her neighborhood don’t take care of their homes, depressing all property values, Mullen said. Some streets are dangerous because of drug dealers and other criminals living on them, she said.
“People avoid those areas because they’re afraid to go down the street in those certain areas, and it’s just not fair because you have some people that live in the middle, and a lot of times it’s elderly.”
Hmmm. Passed in June? Who was in charge, then? Why, it was those evil Republicans.
Through the first half of the article, the average reader would interpret this as YET another boneheaded decision coming out of Raleigh. Why would they block local efforts to shut down crack houses and other nuisance properties that constantly produce police calls?
Read ALL the way to the end of Woolverton’s piece, and it all begins to make sense:
Angeline Vargas, president of the Cumberland County Apartment Association, is glad that the legislature put brakes on the city ordinance.
Vargas said she went to the legislature in June to tell her lawmakers to pass the law to limit the cities’ power.
Fayetteville’s program as approved in the April ordinance was for the most part acceptable, Vargas said.
“If you’re doing the right thing, you’re not going to get on that list” of probationary status, she said.
But some sections of the city ordinance, which are now limited or obviated by state law, needed to be tweaked, Vargas said.
These included factors outside a landlord’s control, such as loud noise complaints or neighbors who get angry at each other and start calling the police.
“I’ve had it at various properties, that neighbors just kind of go at a ‘calling the police on each other war’ because of any little sound, anything they can hear,” she said. “And that was one of the main concerns: Are the properties going to be penalized because of this, because of something of that nature?”
Because of the legislature’s actions, Fayetteville has postponed hiring staff to enforce its ordinance, Hewett said. The city is going to consider how to make an ordinance that is effective and complies with the new law, he said. He hopes to have proposals ready to show the City Council in August.
This looks like yet another example of good intentions going awry. Kudos to Fayetteville city officials for trying to come up with a way to deal with nuisance properties without punishing landlords for circumstances beyond their control.