Deaf Gahan’s ultimate zoning bait ‘n’ switch: Slumlords certify themselves to be in compliance with rental property codes, then cut “thank you” checks to Gahan.


Boeing is having a bit of a problem with this notion of safety self-certification, but enough about airplanes. A few weeks ago I snapped these screenshots on social media.

Meanwhile, addressing a topic that I can’t recall Deaf Gahan or his team ever once embracing publicly, Richard Florida concludes:

How Poor Americans Get Exploited by Their Landlords (CityLab)

American landlords derive more profit from renters in low-income neighborhoods, researchers Matthew Desmond and Nathan Wilmers find.

Do the poor pay more for housing?

That’s the question at the heart, and in the title, of a detailed paper published in the American Journal of Sociology on the actual housing costs paid by Americans in low-income urban neighborhoods. Its two authors, Princeton’s Matthew Desmond—who wrote the award-winning 2016 book Evicted—and MIT’s Nathan Wilmers, track the rent burdens and levels of exploitation faced by those living in concentrated poverty. They also uncover the staggeringly high profit margins made by the landlords who own properties in these areas.

It’s an election year in New Albany, and I’ve yet to find an instance of Mayor Jeff Gahan or any sitting city council member being asked, “What ever happened to rental property inspections?

However, City Hall’s flourishing propaganda division has funded Extol Magazine and other “lifestyle” publications to run ads like this.

Hmm. Weren’t rental property inspections supposed to be the crucial second phase of our revised rental property ordinance?”

New Albany rental property ordinance revised, by Jenna Esarey (March 8, 2016)

NEW ALBANY — An ordinance to regulate rental properties in New Albany was amended after a contentious city council meeting Monday.

A standing-room-only crowd packed the third-floor assembly room to voice opinions about the ordinance, which required property owners to obtain a rental permit for each property and register their contact information with the city no later than Jan. 31, 2017.

Under the ordinance, a Rental Housing Code would establish minimum maintenance standards; set the responsibilities of owners, operators and occupants of rental buildings and rental units; and provide for administration, enforcement and penalties ranging up to $2,500 for repeated infractions such as failure to obtain a rental permit or violating provisions of the code. The ordinance also called for the inspection of rental housing properties based on a complaint as permitted by ordinance and state statute.

After more than two hours of discussion, Councilman Greg Phipps, who proposed the ordinance, agreed to split the ordinance, and the amended measure, containing only the registration portion, passed unanimously. The deleted provisions will be addressed at a later date. The amended ordinance faces a third reading March 17.

A committee working on the ordinance did not have rental property owners or renters as members, but a news release from New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan’s office indicated an unidentified real estate agent served as an adviser.

“I’m pleased to hear that the City of New Albany is moving forward by passing legislation to require rental registration for all rental properties within the city limits,” said Gahan in a news release following the meeting. “Rental registrations and inspections have been under consideration by previous administrations and city councils for over a decade. This action is a major step toward improving living conditions for all residents and property owners in New Albany. Unfortunately, the rental property inspection component was stripped from ordinance G-15-05.”

City attorney Shane Gibson addressed a work session on the ordinance immediately before the council meeting.

“Our police and fire departments spend hours trying to track down owners when there’s a problem,” he said. “Registration is the biggest aspect.”

City Building Commissioner David Brewer spoke in support of the ordinance during the work session, saying, “We’re a 200-year-old city. We’ve got buildings that deteriorate every time it rains. I deal with them every day. I’ve some of the worst of the worst.”

During the council meeting, the majority of the more than 25 residents signed up to speak expressed support for the registration of owners, but held deep concerns with other aspects, such as fines and penalties and the inspection rules.

Speakers expressed concerns about the city’s ability to handle the number of inspections called for by the ordinance, the perception of many landlords that they are being targeted while problem tenants are not being addressed and the fact that only rental properties are included.

Russell Kruer, a broker/owner with RE/MAX Results, spoke against the ordinance, citing issues he has faced in getting the city to address some concerns at properties he owns.

“I am tired of taking care of the city’s issues when they’re not taking care of mine,” he said. “I can’t get the city to return my calls.”

Sandy Hamish with Hamish Properties said her company manages over 100 properties in New Albany.

“Owners have told me they want no part of this. They will sell. Tenants have told me they’re going to move” because they don’t want their privacy invaded by an inspection.

Kindly note the three years of complete silence since the preceding was published.

To be sure, language delineating rental property inspections now exists, but it’s unclear where it is and how it works. The following passage, which details a self-certification mechanism whereby rental property owners can make just like the barons of the air at Boeing, comes from Zoning Ordinance, the 238-page masterpiece produced by Gahan campaign donor 11th Street Development (and linked at the city’s official site).

I was under the impression all this legalese was approved by city council last year, but not everything in it jibes when compared to the Code of Ordinances on-line, where the registration process is detailed but not the inspections.

d. Self-Certification Program.

i. Qualification. A rental housing property shall be placed in the Self-Certification Program if all the following circumstances exist:

1. After the last inspection conducted pursuant to this Section, the Code Enforcement Officer determines no violations exist on the property or violations identified were abated within thirty (30) days.

2. The Owner and Local Contact Representative comply with all applicable provisions of this Section; and

3. The Owner is not delinquent on any payment to the City of property or other taxes, fees, penalties, or any other monies related to the property.

ii. Removal from the Program. A rental housing property may be removed from the Self-Certification Program if any of the following circumstances occurs:

1. The rental housing property is in violation of this Section or any other provision of law, even if the violation is abated within thirty (30) days: or

2. Any of the circumstances set forth in Section 6.17(D)(4)(d) cease to exist.

iii. Self-Certification. Owners of rental housing properties that are in the Self-Certification Program shall certify, under penalty of perjury, that each rental housing unit on the property is in compliance with all building, housing, and sanitary codes annually by no later than January 31, and upon each change in tenancy. Self-certification shall consist of the following:

1. The Owner, or his or her designee, shall inspect all Common Elements and each unit that becomes vacant since the prior certification for compliance with the requirements of SelfCertification as provided by the City;

2. The Owner shall repair immediately any conditions necessary to achieve compliance with the Self-Certification requirements;

3. The Owner shall complete the Self-Certification documentation and submit the form to the City and to the occupants of the corresponding rental housing unit.

4. In the event any rental housing unit cannot be self-certified due to conditions of the property or an inability to repair conditions, the Owner must immediately notify the City.

iv. Random Inspections. The City may inspect rental housing properties and vacant Rental Housing Units in the Self-Certification Program on a random basis, but not more frequently than once per year.

Are Gahan’s Kool-Aid drinkers on board with self-certification mechanism?

They’re eager to overlook their idol’s proposed gutting of public housing, while still pretending to honor the Democratic Party’s commitment-in-the-breach to the community’s most vulnerable.

They’re eager to give a pass to the sheer inanity of David Duggins insisting his NAHA commercial property purchases on State Street are aimed at providing desperately needed extra parking for Riverview Tower, which he’s just as busy depopulating.

How much gentrification and luxury enhancement can one veneer-topped mayor pursue before SOMEONE in his own party raises a timid hand and asks what he’s doing to give a boost to the folks living paycheck to paycheck?

Because: if you don’t pull back the curtain and see what’s behind the propaganda, you’re just allowing yourself to be duped, aren’t you?