Fresno City Council passes rental housing improvement act to deal with slum housing

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A room packed to the brim inside Fresno City Hall witnessed history Thursday as City Council voted to take a unprecedented step to eliminate slum housing. (KFSN)

A room packed to the brim inside Fresno City Hall witnessed history Thursday as City Council voted to take a unprecedented step to eliminate slum housing.

"We need to have a voice and I think this is the voice we are looking for," said one Fresno resident.

A night filled with passionate pleas started with Mayor Lee Brand pushing through his first proposal since taking office. It calls for the mandatory registry of all rental properties as well as a baseline inspection.

Brand said the tragedy at Sommerset Village a year ago served as the catalyst for the city to change its ways.

"This sends a loud and clear message that the City of Fresno has made a commitment to its citizens, the voiceless poor that are out there that can't say anything."

Hours of personal stories soon followed from advocates and people claiming to have lived through horror.

One Fresno resident said, "The owner refuses to allow residents turn on the heater in his house because he doesn't want to pay the bill. He also only allows the showers to be taken by these people on the weekends only."

But landlords stood their ground too, arguing inspections were a violation of privacy and that sometimes the problems are caused by squatters or delinquent tenants.

"They will also face rent increases as landlords try to recover the cost of these inspections. Ask yourself if you would like your home to be inspected by the city, generally the answer is no," said a resident.

The debate eventually reached the dais where passionate pleas had to be processed logically and once again-- division emerged.

"But I can't support something that I think is unfair, has untold consequences," said Garry Bredefeld, Councilmember.

"This is for the minority of bad property owners that exist and we need an apparatus to deal with them and we do not have it yet," said Oliver Baines, City Councilmembers.

In the end a narrow victory as the city embraced its most proactive measure yet to address dilapidated housing.

The Mayor said he is trying to keep the cost of the inspections low by only sampling 10-percent of units in an apartment complex and only re-inspecting buildings in good standing every 10 years.

Related Topics:
societyhousingFresno City Councilfresnolee brandFresno
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