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Category: Rent Control Page 1 of 3

Council to Disband Rent Stabilization Board

The City Council has recently voted to expire the Rent Stabilization, as of September 1, 2014. In order to reflect the change in the City Code, I asked to have a future worksession discussing the disbanding of the Rent Stabilization Board.

This expiration of rent stabilization law has made various sections of the City Code unnecessary. They include (1) Chapter 127 of the City Code containing the Rent Stabilization law (2) Chapter 15 including the establishment of the Rent Stabilization Board (3) Chapter 110 containing fees and penalties related to the Rent Stabilization law.

At tonight’s Council meeting, the Council will vote on an ordinance deleting each of these portions of the City Code reflecting the sunset of the Rent Stabilization law.

County Bill May Stop Rental Property Conversion in College Park Neighborhoods

A proposed bill in the County Council may stop conversions of single family homes to rental properties in College Park.

The bill, proposed by Dist 3 County Councilman Eric Olson, will be discussed at our Council worksession tonight. The Council may take a position whether to support the bill when it will be formerly introduced in County Council next week.

The bill intends to create Single Family Neighborhood Stabilization Overlay Zone to “ensure that land in residential neighborhoods retains its traditional single family residential character, integrity and appearance”.

Here are a few highlights of the proposed ordinance.
1. The zone can be established within 2 miles radius of a higher educational institution, such as the University of Maryland. This may cover College Park and areas outside of city boundaries.

2. The zone may not include transient facilities such as boarding houses, tourist homes, inns, motels, hotels, school dormitories, hospitals or medical facilities etc.

3. The Planning Board may initiate or another person may request a zoning map amendment only with the concurrence (by
resolution) of the County District Council.

4. During the preparation of the proposed zone, the County will contact all owners of land, and any municipality lying (wholly or in part) within the anticipated boundaries of the proposed zone and any municipality within one mile of the anticipated District boundary, to invite comments and recommendations.

5. Once the zone is established, no new rental licenses (required pursuant to provisions of a city code) shall be issued within the boundaries of the proposed zone.

6. The County Council will take final action on a zoning map amendment at any time after the close of the final public hearing record. A two-thirds (2/3) super majority vote of the full District Council shall be required to override the recommendation of a municipality if any portion of the Zone Map Amendment which falls within the boundaries of the municipality.

7. The zone must contain at least ten (10) contiguous acres and at least thirty (30) existing single family houses.

8. A single family rental dwelling located within the shall be at least 800 feet from any other single family rental dwelling within a District

9. A waiver of the Code may be granted where the property owner of a single family dwelling within a District must relocate for temporary employment reassignment, military service assignment, or other similar circumstances that may require temporary relocation out of state or overseas.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Council to Vote on Expiring City’s Rent Control Law

At tomorrow’s Council meeting, the Council will consider 2 actions on City’s rent control law. The first will be about a vote on whether to sunset the law as of September 1, 2014. If the motion fails, there will be an introduction of ordinance to extend the law (without enforcement) for one more year.

I personally thank everyone who wrote to me about the law and I think time has come to sunset the ordinance for a number of reasons:

(1) The property owners are now working with the residents, students and other stakeholders as part of the neighborhood stabilization and the quality of life group to address the rental issues that caused the introduction of the law in 2005. It’s important that we treat all our stakeholders equally with respect, instead of using the rent control law as “a tool in the toolbox”

(2) The law has caused more conflict and frictions among various stakeholders than building a healthy relationship, costing City’s taxpayers thousands of dollars in litigation fees

(3) City needs investments in the housing sectors as the number of home sales in College Park has decreased by 67% since 2011 ( ) . Many more houses in the city are now staying vacant for a longer period of time, causing more vacancy related code enforcement issues

(4) The law is against City’s goal to have students conveniently living at the growing number of student housing close to the campus (instead of residential neighborhood). Only a free market rental rate will ensure the higher occupancies in the existing and new student housing.

Please let me know how the Council should be voting at tomorrow’s meeting on this issue.

UPDATE June 18, 2014: The Council voted 5-3 to sunset the rent control ordinance. Council members Mitchell, Hew, Day, Dennis and Kabir voted YES and Council members Stullich, Brennan and Wojahn voted NO. I want to thank those who wrote to me or came to last night’s meeting and testified before the Council.

Group Outlines Steps to Improve Quality of Life and Stabilize Neighborhood

About a year ago, in July 2012, the Mayor and Council established the Neighborhood Stabilization and Quality of Life Work Group to develop and explore new strategies for addressing issues related to the increasing use of single-family houses as group rental houses over the past several decades.

The initiative came after the Council suspended the enforcement of rent control ordinances for a year and try out other ways to address the root cause of the law – improve the quality of life and stabilize the neighborhood.

There had been a long-term trend of increasing numbers of single-family houses being converted to group rental houses over the past several decades. The Council expressed a desire to ensure availability and maintenance of affordable housing in the City, protect the standard of living of all City residents, and strengthen and stabilize the City’s neighborhoods. Florida Value Homes is one of the best companies to offer affordable houses.

The full Work Group and the individual task forces held numerous committee meetings from November 2012 through June 2013 to identify and discuss potential strategies for addressing the above issues. Additionally, they also held two public forums during this period, on January 29 and April 30, to provide an opportunity for members of the broader community to express their concerns and comments about neighborhood stabilization and quality of life issues.

The group decided to create four task forces to work on the following issues:

• Issue Reduction: Strategies for reducing problems that have negatively impacted the quality of life for people who live in the community, including loud parties, noise, excessive alcohol consumption, public urination, trash, and vandalism.
• Homeownership: Strategies for reversing the trend of conversions of owner-occupied properties to rental properties and attracting more University faculty and staff and other owner-occupants to purchase homes in College Park.
• Community Building: Strategies for building positive relations between students and long-term residents and creating a stronger sense of community.
• Housing Diversity: Strategies for expanding housing options available to students, with a particular emphasis on affordable housing.

I will make a series of posts to go over the details about the group’s findings and strategies to implement them.

Council to Extend Rent Control Ordinance One More Year

House for rent

At tonight’s meeting, the Council will introduce a resolution to postpone the sunset of the program for another year, until September 1, 2014. The Council will also be considering continuing suspension of the implementation and enforcement of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance for another year, to allow the Council and other stakeholders to work on the proposals and ideas being put forward by the Workgroup.

The City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance was due to expire on September 1, 2012. The Mayor and Council determined that the objectives of the law had not been met at that time for various reasons, and voted last summer to.adopt Ordinance 12-0-06, which extended the law until September 1, 2013, at which time it would sunset if not extended again.

The extension of the law for one year was enacted in conjunction with two other initiatives. The first was to create the Neighborhood Stabilization and Quality of Life Workgroup (“the Workgroup”) and to invite stakeholders, including the Prince George’s Property Owners Association and landlords, the University of Maryland, students and the Student Government Association, and City residents, to explore avenues to ensure availability and maintenance of affordable housing in the City, protect the standard of living of all City residents, and strengthen and stabilize the City’s neighborhoods.

The second was to suspend enforcement of the rent stabilization ordinance and suspend implementation of the rent stabilization program to September 1, 2013. At this point, the Workgroup has met frequently and has been developing measures to resolve the identified problems.

Additional time is required to bring this work forward and implement various strategies. It is hoped that these strategies will eventually make Chapter 127 unnecessary. To this end, the Council will consider an ordinance extending the rent stabilization ordinance by one more year.

Council Votes to Extend Rent Control for 1 Year with no Enforcement

House for Rent

In last night’s Council meeting, the rent Control was extended for 1 year period. The original ordinance had the language to extend rent control for 5 years. an amendment was passed to make that duration from 5 to 1 year with 6-2 votes. Council members Stullich and Afzali voted against the amendment. Council member Catlin opposed the amended motion.

The Council also voted to suspend the enforcement of the rent control ordinance for one year. An amendment requiring the Council to revisit the program before 1 year expiration period failed (2-6).

Because the 1 year extension and 1 year suspension will happen concurrently, there will effectively be no rent control in the next 12 months period starting September 1st, 2012.

In the coming year, the City hope to work with all the stake holders (long time residents, students, the UMd, property owners and the Council) to address the core issue that mainly prompted rent control ordinance 7 years ago – improve the quality of life in the residential neighborhood. We hope to form a working group and come up with a set of best practices and goals to work on. We will keep you posted as progress is made.

Rent Control Public Hearing

Some 55 residents packed up the Council chamber yesterday to talk about the rent stabilization ordinances at last night’s public hearing. I tried to compile their testimonies here. The Council will vote on the ordinance tonight.

Ms. Lea Callahan. Owns a business for downtown town College Park business. Se often gets disturbed by the noise caused by the students. PGPOA and landlords should be responsible to upkeep the property

Lisa Miller. She understand the basic premise of rent control – improve the quality of life. “There is a game changer, which is the University of Maryland”. She is asking to consider one year extension and one year enforcement. She is hopeful that new cooperation. She hasn’t talked to the PGPOA membership within her organization.

Paul Carlson : He thinks landlords have shown cooperation. There is an opportunity to work together. He is asking for more help One year extension and one year enforcement.

Bryan Mack: He is a landlord. He is pretty much tuned in all the concerns residents have. He suggests consequesnces for the students who make noises. “Build a good relationship . Instead of divide and conquer the landlord community, send an unified message.” – he said.

John Havermale: He thanked the Mayor and Council for the ongoing negotiation. He thinks a working relationship exists between the City and the landlords instead of a fighting one. He is also excited to have the UMd part of this. PGPOA represents 140 members, 350 houses serving 2500 residents.

Tim Miller Rent control is contrary to the free market. It’s comparable to socialism – like the system in a communist country. City’s code enforcement is not effective. rent stabilization is not the way to  address the issue.

James Kane: Thinks there hasn’t been much cooperation between the City and the landlords. He charges the City pulled the plug from the feet of the landlords, when they attempted to work with the City collaboratively. Eliminate antagonism and knit-picking.

Robert Davis: Property values have gone down due to  Council be in the top 3, not even within top 10. He cannot sell house, because the price has gone down. Rent Control is not going to give a better quality of life.

Richard Williamson: He supports the continuation of rent stabilization. We don’t have enough houses to be converted to rental houses. We lose families, every time we convert a property into a rental one.

Rent Control: Vote Tomorrow, Public Hearing Tonight

College Park City Hall

After much discussion and debate on the rent control ordinance, the Council will finally take up the subject for a vote at tomorrow’s regular Council meeting.

The Rent Stabilization Ordinance, which caps rents in single-family homes around the City. The Rent Stabilization law was passed in 2005 and extended in 2009 for a number of purposes, including reducing the incentive for landlords to purchase previously owner-occupied homes as investments and turn them into rental properties.

The ordinance was the subject of litigation for a number of years before it was upheld by the Maryland Court of Appeals, and the City only began enforcement of the ordinance last year. There has been a great deal of discussion of the rent stabilization ordinance over the past couple of months, and different groups and individual Councilmembers have been meeting with the Prince George’s Property Owners Association to discuss alternatives to rent stabilization.

The Council will be considering, in addition to a ordinance extending rent stabilization for another five years, a resolution to suspend enforcement of the ordinance for one year. The idea in passing a moratorium on enforcement is that this would give the City, the Property Owners’ Association, and other stakeholders, such as the University, students and residents, the opportunity to discuss some of the proposals that have been brought up and try some of them out over the next year. At the end of the year, if a majority of the Council feels that these have been successful or feels otherwise that rent stabilization should be discontinued, the Council can vote to do so or could vote to extend the moratorium on enforcement.

There will be a PUBLIC HEARING tonight, at 7:00 pm at City Hall to hear public input on two things: 1) the Rent Stabilization Ordinance itself, and 2) the resolution for a year-long moratorium on enforcement. Thanks to those of you who came out to the public forum last week on rent stabilization, it was a good discussion and we appreciate those of you who took the time to come out and discuss the ordinance with us. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Rent Control Studies

House for rent

When it comes to studying rent control (aka rent stabilization), you can probably find a number of them. Here are a few I cam across. I’ll be adding more as I go through this complex, yet interesting studies
College Park Rent Control Ordinances F.A.Q.
If you’re new to rent control ordinances in College Park, this is a must read.
Economic Study of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) and the Los Angeles Housing Market
Underwritten by The City of Los Angeles Housing Department
The report was prepared for LA’s Housing Department to recommend how conditions in the housing market can be improved and how to fairly balance the interests of tenants and landlords under the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance. Two-thirds of the rental units in Los Angeles are regulated by the ordinance.
Takoma Park, MD Rent Stabilization Policy Analysis
A study of rent control policies that once governed the rent control ordinances in Takoma Park
How Rent Control Drives Out Affordable Housing
by William Tucker
The author argues that that rent control is policy that never was justified and certainly should be scrapped.

Rent Control Town Hall Meeting, July 2

House for rent

Council member Wojahn and I are organizing a town hall meeting in north College Park on the City’s rent control laws. It will be held at Davis Hall (9217 51st Avenue) at 7pm.

Unless renewed, City’s rent stabilization ordinariness will expire on September 1st. The City Council will vote on a set of proposed ordinances at its July 10 regular meeting. The proposed ordinances are similar to the existing ones except a few minor changes.

Please see this post to know more about the proposed changes. Please see here to know the basic facts about the existing  laws.

On July 9, there will be an exclusive public hearing on the ordinances at the City Hall at 7pm. Please try to attend.

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