Chief Nelson, Chief Livingstone, Nancy Buffone, Jonathan Tucker, Stephanie O'Keeffe
"It's only a matter of time before somebody dies because of things we have let get out of hand," said Phil Jackson, member of the Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods Working Group and a resident of Lincoln Avenue, a street described as being at the "tipping point" for proud old single family (four unrelated tenants) homes being converted by real estate speculators into two family (eight unrelated tenants) Party Houses.
Phil Jackson (3rd from left) makes a point
Take this entry from the front page of the 11/21/1990 Amherst Bulletin describing Amherst Town Meeting's reaction to the Planning Board asking if they should draft a rental registration bylaw:
"Town Meeting instead asked the Planning Board to find ways to enforce existing zoning regulations more effectively. The substitute motion was made by Nancy Gordon. Both the Planning Board's approach and Gordon's were intended to cut down the problems of noise, unkempt property and general neighborhood disruption that sometimes occur when a number of students rent an apartment or a house that is too small for them."
Now here we are, twenty two years later, still dealing with noise, nuisance, and all the dangerous byproducts of drunken behavior by too many young adults packed into too small surroundings owned by speculators who simply don't give a damn.
Like the current controversy with gun ownership, it only takes the actions of a microscopically small minority to ruin it for the very large majority of responsible gun owners. Just as one or two slumlords ruin it for all the legitimate, professional, honest, caring owners who make up the vast majority of rental property providers.
Select Board Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe described Safe & Healthy Neighborhood's charge: "Trying to establish what all reasonable people would agree is a minimum baseline of safety ... including reasonable parking, compliant with occupancy limit, local property upkeep laws, as well as alcohol and nuisance laws."
And she closes with a key point: "Inspectors need to be able to access property."
The committee will host an open public forum next week, January 22, in the Town Room, Town Hall (7:00 PM - 9:00 PM) to hear from all concerned stakeholders: neighbors, property owners, town officials and civilized citizens who care about their town.
Safe bet the rowdy tenants causing the problems (or the slumlords who rent to them) will not show up.
Phil Jackson's Powerpoint slide