Thursday, March 21, 2013

The (low) Price of Peace & Quiet

 Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods department proposed budget (draft)

One of the sillier criticisms leveled at the Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods Working Group is that the body did not have a tenant as part of their genetic makeup.  Which is kind of like saying all gynecologists have to be women.

But the other concern I've heard voiced by a somewhat sensible center of impacted landlords (besides the #1 issue of a "permit") is that rookie Building Commissioner Rob Morra is "empire building" and his newly expanded empire will be expensive to maintain and unworkable with the burdensome workload.

So yes, while the overall proposed budget for the new Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods department seems high at $218,000 keep in mind that two thirds of that ($157,500) will be covered by "user fees" i.e. the $100 annual fee for landlords.

And with the median rent in Amherst now at $1,108 per month, landlords are going to have a tough time portraying $100/year as onerous.

Thus the real increase in costs to the operating budget is only $60,500 ... or about what the town spends annually subsidizing the game of golf.  


Anonymous said...

Will this new permit be required for every rental in Amherst, including the folks who rent a single bedroom in there home? What about rentals that don't get reported, like a dog without a license? Are we going to fine or incarcerate an elderly couple who rent out a spare room?

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, maybe I will start a weekly series publishing mug shots, or a rogues gallery of incarcerated grandmas.

Larry Kelley said...

Oops, forgot to ad sarcasm.

Anonymous said...

Will there be a reward program for turning in your neighbor, if they don't get a permit? This sounds like fun.

Larry Kelley said...

Growing up in a single parent household on High Street in the early 1960s, my Irish Mother rented out three quarters of our large house (currently a rooming house) in order to make ends meet.

Although virtually all the tenants were UMass students, we had zero problems and never had a neighbor complain to us or town officials.

The problem is not with nice neighborhood elderly couples renting out a room, the problem is with professional Slumlords who don't simply don't care.

And with me around you will not need a reward program. So YOU damn well better get a permit.

Or hire a hitman.

steve said...

I know they will see a spike in complaints for a while and they say they will be and are overloaded now but I would like to see the nature of them now (I belive the # was 208 or close)But when they drop witch they should if this works then do we still need 2 new staff on payroll for ever? It shouldnt take long to clean up a few bad actors

Jerry Guidera said...

Congratulations to Phil Jackson and the other members of this committee. This is an important step forward in the Town's efforts to respond to the chorus of complaints about nuisance rentals. This is exactly the kind of measure we need to target negligent landlords and irresponsible property managers. As a landlord myself, I view the registration and fee as a small price to pay for making my neighborhood a safer place for my children and a more comfortable environment for all.
Jerry Guidera, Gray Street.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with your gyno comparison. Is it really so silly that a person who actually lives in the community that is affected by this groups decisions be involved in the process? I'm not totally versed with the decision making process of this group- but why wouldn't it be important to take into account the tenants who live in the neighborhoods in the disucssion?

If you must use gynocology metaphors, I think this is more apt:
It's like saying people who spend their time working in gynocology offices and studying reproductive anatomy and doing pap smears may want to be part of a group of people called gynocologists.

Dr. Ed said...

Larry, the ladies who wrote Our Bodies, Ourselves made a very strong case that the then virtually all-male doctor cadre was not only doing a very good job of keeping information about their own bodies away from them, but not really providing them the best of medical care either.

Concurrent with this -- although I don't believe mentioned by the OB,O women (who were young) was the concern about the large number of hysterectomies being performed and the large number of women upon whom they had been performed coming to the belief that the operations had been unnecessary.

No, not all gynecologists have to be female, but I think the ladies back then quite clearly made the point that SOME of them need to be, that a woman at the table who realizes that the proposed rules will apply to her, *personally* is a whole lot more effective than a bunch of guys who think they understand what it is like to be female.

So too here. Absolutely no one making these rules had to worry about the stuff applying to them personally qua tenant (only as landlord) and that is going to be the fatal flaw.