Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Slum-buster: Council approves enforcement plan
gvw_david_taub
By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 7 years ago on
November 18, 2016

Share

[check back for video highlights from the meeting]

The Fresno city council took a step forward in its battle against slumlords Thursday night, approving the Anti-Slumlord Enforcement Team and the Landlord-Tenant Ombudsman. The ideas brought forth by Steve Brandau and Clint Olivier passed 5-2.

The problem of substandard housing and code enforcement came to light in November 2015 when nearly 1,000 residents of the Summerset Village Apartments in southeast Fresno were discovered to be living without heating or hot water. That triggered a public outcry into how the city should be keeping tabs on bad landlords.

When Brandau and Olivier introduced the plan on Monday, Mayor Ashley Swearengin said it would water down her version of fighting bad landlords called STOPP (Strike Team On Problem Properties) and vowed to oppose it. Initially, the Brandau/Olivier plan would use a sliding scale of inspection: the larger a complex, the more units code enforcement officers would inspect. A compromise was made that now, a complaint could trigger a full inspection of every unit. That was good enough for the Mayor’s office to drop her opposition.

“When we know that the property is a health and safety violator, we go in and we can inspect every single unit,” Brandau said. “Our goal is to deal with the bad actors.”

ASET’s team was also cut down from the original plan from 14 to 12. Six members of the team will be switched from the STOPP unit. A supervisor, three code enforcement officers, an attorney and the ombudsman will be hired at a cost of around $500,000 a year, Brandau estimates. Eliminated from the initial plan are an ASET manager and administrative assistant.

The plan also received support from the Fresno Chamber of Commerce and California Apartment Association. No More Slumlords, a tenant advocacy group, gave the idea conditional support. But, it was not enough for more progressive tenant rights groups.

Other advocacy groups such as Faith in Community and individual attorneys feel a proactive system of mandatory inspections of all city rental units is the best course. They feel that a complaint-based system is ineffective and could lead to backlash.

Pahoua Lor is an attorney representing clients at Summerset. “I have listened to their stories. An ombudsman, as great as it may seem, will not solve the issue. The issue is to address the fear and retaliation tenants on a daily basis feel.”

Andy Levine of Faith in Community advocated for a mandatory inspection system. “There is a reason why a reactive complaint based team is not sufficient, has never been sufficient in the city of Fresno. A routine proactive inspection program is necessary.”

“People are already living in fear. They are afraid of their landlords. If folks are undocumented, they are going to think 10 times more to call their landlord and complain about their situation,” Leticia Valencia said to council.

Brandau and Olivier made their pitch, hoping to win over a skeptical council. Lee Brand feels more can be done, but supported ASET because it was a first good step. At one point, a woman was ejected from the chambers for interrupted him as he spoke.

Esmeralda Soria also supported the plan. “Our city needs to do a little more to be proactive, rather than reactive. I do support adding additional resources,” she said from dais.

Paul Caprioglio also supported the plan, albeit reluctantly. He had little faith in the effectiveness of the ombudsman component. “This is another Band-Aid on a Band-Aid…We are adding more code enforcement officers. For that reason, I will support this. We need more boots on the ground.”

Oliver Baines and Sal Quintero voted against.

The council now awaits a possible plan from Mayor Swearengin. At issue is whether she will appeal for a mandatory inspection system. However, there are only three council meetings scheduled before her term ends. It does not preclude her, however, from calling a special council meeting.

E-mail David Taub

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Whitey Herzog, Hall of Fame Manager Who Led Cardinals to 1980s Success, Dies at 92

DON'T MISS

Coalinga-Huron Teachers Say They’ll Strike Unless a Fair Contract Is Offered

DON'T MISS

Coalition: CA Lawmakers Need to Roll Back Proposed ‘Utility Tax’

DON'T MISS

CA’s High Construction Costs Limit Housing. A Supreme Court Decision Might Help

DON'T MISS

Now’s the Time to Register for FUSD’s Free Preschool and T-K

DON'T MISS

‘Hopeville’ Literacy Documentary Showing Tonight at Roosevelt High

DON'T MISS

Michigan Faces Probation for Football Recruiting Violations; Case vs. Jim Harbaugh Pending

DON'T MISS

What Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse Can Tell Us About the Public Domain and Remix Culture

DON'T MISS

Acquisition of Historic Fresno Real Estate Brand Creates Area’s Largest Brokerage

DON'T MISS

Wall Street’s Mixed Trading Day

UP NEXT

Clovis Armed Robbery and Pursuit Result in 3 Arrests, 1 Suspect Still at Large

UP NEXT

Fresno Fire and Police Ramp up Probe Into Fires at Cemeteries

UP NEXT

A Fresno Edition of Monopoly? That’s Capitalism at Work, Baby!

UP NEXT

Which Fresno Restaurants Are Best? The Pros Picked These Places.

UP NEXT

Fresno-Madera United Way Launches National Search for New CEO

UP NEXT

This Week’s Weather Will Take Us from Fleece to Flip-Flops

UP NEXT

Alton Brown Wants to Find Good Eats in Fresno

UP NEXT

Merced Supervisors Accused of ‘Triple Crown Race’ of Failures Amid Talk of Closing Fire Stations

UP NEXT

Walberg Era Begins With a Charge to ‘Revolutionize’ Bulldogs Basketball

UP NEXT

Dr. Green Thumb’s Is Open. Sweet Flower Debuts Saturday in Fresno Cannabis Rollout.

David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

CA’s High Construction Costs Limit Housing. A Supreme Court Decision Might Help

9 hours ago

Now’s the Time to Register for FUSD’s Free Preschool and T-K

Local Education /

10 hours ago

‘Hopeville’ Literacy Documentary Showing Tonight at Roosevelt High

Local Education /

10 hours ago

Michigan Faces Probation for Football Recruiting Violations; Case vs. Jim Harbaugh Pending

11 hours ago

What Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse Can Tell Us About the Public Domain and Remix Culture

11 hours ago

Acquisition of Historic Fresno Real Estate Brand Creates Area’s Largest Brokerage

Breaking News /

11 hours ago

Wall Street’s Mixed Trading Day

11 hours ago

It’s ‘Signing Day’ for These Clovis Unified Youngsters

Local Education /

11 hours ago

Clovis Armed Robbery and Pursuit Result in 3 Arrests, 1 Suspect Still at Large

11 hours ago

Charges Against Trump and Jan. 6 Rioters at Stake as Supreme Court Hears Debate Over Obstruction Law

12 hours ago

Whitey Herzog, Hall of Fame Manager Who Led Cardinals to 1980s Success, Dies at 92

NEW YORK — Whitey Herzog, the gruff and ingenious Hall of Fame manager who guided the St. Louis Cardinals to three pennants and a World Seri...

5 hours ago

5 hours ago

Whitey Herzog, Hall of Fame Manager Who Led Cardinals to 1980s Success, Dies at 92

5 hours ago

Coalinga-Huron Teachers Say They’ll Strike Unless a Fair Contract Is Offered

8 hours ago

Coalition: CA Lawmakers Need to Roll Back Proposed ‘Utility Tax’

9 hours ago

CA’s High Construction Costs Limit Housing. A Supreme Court Decision Might Help

Local Education /
10 hours ago

Now’s the Time to Register for FUSD’s Free Preschool and T-K

Local Education /
10 hours ago

‘Hopeville’ Literacy Documentary Showing Tonight at Roosevelt High

11 hours ago

Michigan Faces Probation for Football Recruiting Violations; Case vs. Jim Harbaugh Pending

11 hours ago

What Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse Can Tell Us About the Public Domain and Remix Culture

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend