ordinance requiring landlords to submit to inspection of the interior of
dwelling units they control is moving toward consideration by the Highland Park
City Council after a discussion at today’s Committee of the Whole
During that committee gathering before its regularly scheduled City Council Meeting, Mayor Nancy Rotering directed Corporation Counsel Steve Elrod to prepare an ordinance that would mandate the inspections.
If an ordinance is prepared and passed, owners of rental housing will have to register with the City, allow interior inspections, pay a fee to defray the cost of enforcement and pay a stiff penalty for violations.
Rotering was spurred to action after learning about potentially unsafe conditions from Police Chief Paul Shafer. "I want to make sure people who live in my town are safe," Rotering said. “We know about this because a crime has occurred and been reported.” Shafer nodded in assent.
A presentation by Shafer and Building Division Manager Scott Moe highlighted conditions in some of Highland Park’s rental units including people living in basements and garages with nothing but a garden hose for running water. Part of the problem is the definition of a family.
“You could have a husband, wife, a brother, a sister and five unrelated people living in one space,” Moe said. “People are afraid,” he added referring to tenants who fear eviction should they report substandard conditions.
Elrod hopes to have legislation ready for consideration in a month. Patch plans a more detailed story later this week.
Council Holds Public Hearing, Removes Item From Agenda
The Council was set to discuss and vote on the establishment of a pair of electric car charging stations on the lower deck of the parking structure on St. Johns Avenue between Central and Laurel Avenues but the item was withdrawn from the agenda.
City Manager David Knapp believes the measure will be on the agenda in the next month. He explained there were questions by some Council members about the location.
In a public hearing on establishing a special service area to help bolster the Ravinia business district, one person—Michael Rudman—spoke in favor of the proposal. No one else offered any input.
“The area is in such a state of disrepair the City has to make it vital again,” Rudman said. “The Council has to make a commitment or lift the retail requirement and allow office space.”