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DeKalb aldermen discuss rental housing ordinances

Published: Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – Aldermen couldn’t reach a consensus Tuesday on creating an annual registration fee for landlords, but one landlord said he didn’t mind, as long as it was fair.

Mike Pittsley, the owner of Pittsley Realty, said people have to pay if they want to see improvements.

The registration fee would support a new city inspection bureau to enforce housing ordinances.

“Government has to pay its way,” Pittsley said. “If we want a better city, a better community, we have to pay for it and figure out how to pay for it.”

Pittsley, who manages 600 properties throughout DeKalb and Sycamore, did not attend Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, when a preliminary vote supported crime-free lease addendums, crime-free training for the landlords, a “three strikes” disorderly house provision, and a sidewalk exterior inspection program.

Aldermen David Jacobson and Monica O’Leary of the 1st and 7th Wards, respectively, voted against those four measures.

The council members tabled the landlord registration fee and the bureau it would partially fund so they could hold further discussions.

The bureau would consist of a program coordinator, a clerk and three inspectors that would implement the different housing ordinances. It would be funded half by the city’s general fund and half by registration fees. DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen said the city staff has been directed to come up with different funding and staffing plans.

Landlords representing the DeKalb Area Rental Association renewed their opposition to having the landlords pay an annual registration fee.

“When you have fees and costs, they have to be directly related to the payer,” said DARA representative Jim Mason. “If you don’t have an inspection, you shouldn’t have to pay for someone else’s inspection.”

Mason also said that the registration program was unconstitutional. But City Attorney Dean Frieders told aldermen that in his view, nothing in any of the programs could be considered unconstitutional.

Sixth Ward Alderman Dave Baker said the bureau could be discriminatory against certain kinds of landlords, depending on how the city decides to fund it.

For his part, Povlsen previously said that he wouldn’t support something like the bureau unless it could be fully funded.

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