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PGPOA Claims Responsibility of Referendum Petition


Prince George's Property Owners' Association

For the past several days, the City officials and residents were wondering who was behind a controversial referendum petition. Now, it has finally found its source.

Yes, PGPOA (Prince George’s Property Owner’s Association) is responsible for initiating the petition drive to get the two proposals on the City ballot” – said PGPOA member William Chicca in an email to me.

Many of the members of PGPOA are residents of the city and are very concerned about the direction the city government is going in trying to impede and even suppress rental of single family homes” – Mr. Chicca said in explaining the reason why PGPOA initiated the petition drive.

It appears that PGPOA has hired Petition Partners, an Arizona company, to circulate two charter amendment petitions in the City. The City has denied any affiliations with Petition Partners in any way.

These petitions seek to impose two amendments to the City Charter. If Petition Partners obtains the signatures of 20% of the qualified voters of the City on the petitions, and the amendments are otherwise lawful, then the City will be required to place both questions on a ballot for a vote in the council election.

The petition drive has left City officials understandably concerned – so  much so that it has recently warned residents on City’s website with the consequences of the petition if it gathers enough signatures.

According to the notice, the City warns its residents by saying that the passage of the petitioners’ demand will eradicate rent control ordinances and requirement that the landlords pay a trash collection fee. It also says the petition would prevent residents from claiming the Homestead Property Tax for owner occupants with a principal residence in the City and prohibit the City from licensing and making annual safety inspections for rental properties.

But Mr. Chicca disagrees with these allegations.

The petition is to uniformly apply the rent control program to ALL rental units in the City, other than those actually owned by the State of Maryland at the University. ” – said Mr. Chicca.

The basic issue is equity and fairness.  If rent control is good for the single family homes and the small apartments – why isn’t it equally good for the high rise rentals?  Why should the high rise rental buildings receive an unfair advantage in setting rents when compared to single family homes?” Mr. Chicca added.

Pointing to the City’s position on the petition, Mr. Chicca said: “As usual, the City is blowing smoke to distort and confuse the issue and saying the sky will fall if the initiative passes.  They certainly do not want political backlash and opposition from the owners of the high rise units, and don’t want to appear unfriendly to new high rise development, which rent control will do.”

The second amendment in the petition would cap the amount of money that can be raised by City taxes to the amount collected as taxes in fiscal year 2011, forever.

This is about the tax cap – similar to the County tax cap.  Government has an insatiable appetites for money and experience dictates that it will raise taxes as high and as often as they can.  The initiative is intended to put city government on a monetary diet – controlling how high they can raise taxes. ” – said Mr. Chicca.

Earlier, some City Council members expressed their frustrations with the group or person initiating the petition.

This (petition) is basically being run by a group of cowards who don’t want to reveal who they are,” said District 4 Council Member Marcus Afzali in an interview with the College Park Patch.

We know those behind the petitions will not come out in public and have the courage to claim responsibility for their actions and explain their intent in supporting these petitions.” – Afzali added further with a prediction.

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4 Comments to “PGPOA Claims Responsibility of Referendum Petition”

  1. By Marcus Afzali, April 25, 2011 @ 8:04 am

    Its amazing what happens when you call people out. 🙂

  2. By Bob Catlin, April 25, 2011 @ 4:47 pm

    It takes them a week and a half to invent more misinformation! The referendum is puposely vague in a way that will allow their attorneys to sue the City in county court to remove laws that allow the Homestead Tax credit, the Homeowner’s Tax credit, trash fees, rental inspections, life safety code, etc. These are all things, with the posssible exception of the Homeowner’s Tax Credit, which is pretty new, that PGPOA leadership have been critical of overthe past many years.

  3. By Patrick Wojahn, April 25, 2011 @ 11:27 pm

    At worst, the PGPOA is malevolent and intends to harm the City of College Park. At best, they’re really bad at drafting Charter amendments. Even if they only intend to do away with the rent stabilization ordinance and cap the property tax rate in a manner similar to the County’s TRIM law, these two Charter amendments both go beyond that, and would do much more than Mr. Chicca says they would. If they wanted to just do away with rent stabilization, why wouldn’t they just write a charter amendment that says exactly that? And why does their property tax amendment not allow for things like inflation or new annexations, as the County’s would?

  4. By Thibeaux Lincecum, April 28, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

    The PGPOA delivered the below press release today. I removed the contact phone numbers.
    ————————————————————

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Petitions Give Voice To Voters

    COLLEGE PARK, Md. April 28, 2011 — Two petitions to amend the City of College Park City Charter, sponsored by Prince George’s Property Owners Association, Inc., have been circulated over the last few weeks. The first measure would expand rent control to include the high-rise student housing that was exempt from the original Rent Stabilization legislation passed by the City Council in 2005.

    “The City government should not favor one group over another as it has in its case against the landlords of single-family homes. As I said while on City Council, if we are truly concerned about high rents which are not affordable to some students, then we must also cap the rents in the high-rise student housing in College Park,” says Mary Cook, a homeowner and former counsel person.

    “If the City is truly committed to creating affordable housing, why would they exempt the highest-cost housing, giving the big developers a financial break?” says Fred Hicks, a homeowner and concerned citizen. “It does not make sense to cap rents on the single-family renter and exempt the big institutional housing where most people live, that’s just not fair” he added.

    The second petition would limit the City’s property taxes to 2011 levels. “This measure will ensure that the City maintains the same discipline we all do in these tough times. If they want to increase their spending, they should come before the voters and make the case. This measure will ensure they do,” Hicks added.

    The City requires 20% of registered voters to sign a petition in order to place it on the ballot for all citizens to then have the opportunity to vote on it. Signing the ballot initiative gives all citizens the right to then vote for or against it. Concerned citizens and Prince George’s Property Owners Association have organized this effort and are working with Petition Partners, a grassroots petition-gathering firm, to help gather signatures to put these two measures on the ballot.

    Contacts:
    Mary Cook
    Fred Hicks
    Lisa Miller