Sunday, July 20, 2014

And Then There Were None

Pat Kamins landlord, Rob Morra (on right)  Building Commissioner

Amherst Building Commissioner Rob Morra reports the most recent Rental Permit Bylaw enforcement actions taken by his office to bring into the compliance the final dozen properties (out of 1,300) has been successful.

Only one remains -- 84 Grantwood Avenue -- and they have told him the "application is in the mail."

 A dozen years ago the Board of Health made an ill fated attempt to bring about Rental Registration but it was mostly ignored; and after the contentious "Smoking Ban in Bars War" from a few years earlier the Board seemed reticent to take on the enforcement challenge.  

Naysayers with a vested interest claimed the current implementation of the common sense bylaw, with its nominal $100 annual fee, would be a logistical nightmare and that the Zoning Board would be overwhelmed with hearings to approve the parking component of the program. 

But all of that sound and fury has apparently signified nothing.

100% compliance now sets the stage for rental occupancy peak season when students return next month.  So the next big test is yet to come.  


Anonymous said...

I'd like to know the highest penalty paid for these owners' tardiness. At, what, $400 day, it must be 10s of thousands for some.

Dr. Ed said...

I am waiting for when they back students against a slumlord, something I imagine they plan to do with a likelyhood of somewhere between "not likely" and "absolutely never."

Cinda said...

Sunday morning quarterbacking here... but one lesson to be learned from this experience is how many town employee paid hours; hearing hours; dollars of expert consultants; and citizen board member volunteer hours could have been saved if only Rob Morra had been granted the authority and latitude to accept base line/ first year site plans for rental properties (without committee hearings for every unexceptional one). As we go forward passing more and more regulations on property and documenting baseline data it would seem wise to empower town employees like Morra to save everyone's time and money.

Larry Kelley said...

We tried that last spring with zoning stuff related to small home based businesses and Town Meeting was their usual non cooperative selves.

Anonymous said...

Morra is doing a great job with this and the town is miles ahead of where it was a year ago. The rental bylaw is a smashing success!

But Cinda - Larry's right. If the plannign board tries to get too specific in setting specific requirements (as with the home business bylaw), TM says it's too complicated and to make it simpler. And if the changes are "simpler" which inevitably means giving discretion to the decider, TM meeting says, it's too vague.

Time for a new charter. Unfortunately it's time to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The intelligent, dedicated TM members are quickly becoming outnumbered by political hacks and NIMBYS.

Dr. Ed said...

Cinda, I'll believe in this stuff the first time I see a property owner ordered to immediately fix a broken heating system or leaky roof.