Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Greensboro News & Record Editorial Board on HB 554 and RUCO: Could not naming names be a bit cowardly?

"Editorial: Backdoor attempt to kill good policy

In basketball, the backdoor play is a thing of beauty -- a crisp stroke of timing, precision passing and teamwork.

In that case, it's an attempt to get what you want even after you've been given a fair hearing -- and told no.

Who's attempt?

Such is the case with a renewed effort to kill a successful and effective Greensboro ordinance that helps ensure safe and healthy rental housing.

Called RUCO, or Rental Unit Certificate of Occupancy, it was introduced in 2003 and has effectively reduced the amount of substandard housing in the city, as well as complaints about substandard housing.

One of the best aspects of RUCO is its focus on prevention. With its mix of random inspections, fines and certification, ultimately, of all rental housing in the city, it has resulted in problems being identified and fixed before harm is done.

It has addressed such dangers as lead contamination, plumbing leaks and poor electrical wiring.

It has reduced the number of all housing units with code violations from more than 1,600 in 2003 to fewer than 700 today.

It has decreased overall complaints about substandard housing in the city by 77 percent.

It has received the enthusiastic endorsement of the Greensboro Neighborhood Congress and the Greensboro Housing Coalition, which advocates for safe, affordable housing in the city.

And it has done all of this without adding one single city inspector to enforce RUCO.

Even so, some people want the ordinance dead and gone, everywhere and forever.

What "some people"?

They tried unsuccessfully to undermine it through the City Council in 2010.

Who are "they"?

Now they've taken their case to the state, where proposed legislation not only would forbid RUCO in Greensboro, but anywhere else in North Carolina.

Who tried to kill RUCO in Greensboro?

The state House bill would ban local governments from inspecting rental housing unless there is "reasonable cause to believe that unsafe, unsanitary, or otherwise hazardous or unlawful conditions may exist."

Why doesn't the bill have a sponsor?

In leaving no doubt that the target is RUCO, the bill adds: "In no event" may a city or county "adopt or enforce any local ordinance that would require any owner or manager of rental property to obtain any permit or permission from the county to lease or rent residential real property" or "enroll or participate in any governmental program as a condition of obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy."

Why doesn't the Editorial Board want to identify those
who would want to kill more people, by neutering safety laws?

In other words, it would not only uproot the RUCO process in Greensboro, but stamp out the seeds of any similar ordinance in other cities and counties.

Is the Editorial Board afraid to write or say the acronym TREBIC?

If the Editorial Board knows TREBIC's Marlene Sanford and friends
made the rounds on the bill at the state house in support of gutting RUCO,
why wouldn't they want to identify her/them by name?

This bill is disconcerting on two fronts: It attempts to reverse an ordinance in Greensboro that has worked very well by almost any measure. And it attempts to snatch the right of local governments to ensure safer housing for their own residents.

If the bill is so disconcerting,
why doesn't the Editorial Board have the courage to identify who is proposing the change?

If anything, other cities and counties should want to emulate this city's success.

Success at not calling out some the News & Record's advertizers
for what seems to clearly be an immoral stance on RUCO?

At the very least, Raleigh lawmakers should mind their own business and leave well enough alone in Greensboro."

Greensboro News & Record Editorial Board

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