Sunday, March 07, 2010

Salt Lake Tribune: Patchwork of Laws Squeezes Ex-cons

Another great idea! Let's buy these unfortunate folks a one-way ticket to "Powderville"

Fascinating story in this morning's Salt Lake Tribune, revealing the ugly underbelly of these "Good Landlord Programs," which have become all the rage in cities across Utah over the past several years. Here's the lede:
Ogden » At Park Avenue apartments, even one of the security guards is on parole.
As of mid-February, at least 19 probationers and parolees were living at the 150-unit complex at the corner of 24th Street and Adams Avenue. Many, including the guard, have drug convictions; a few have committed gun-related or violent crimes.
Building managers are reducing the number of state-supervised tenants, but there are still plenty of felons in the neighborhood.
The Department of Corrections listed 713 probationers and parolees in the building's ZIP code. That gives Ogden the highest per capita rate of people on state supervision among Utah cities with at least 10,000 residents.
Read this morning's full SLTrib story here:
Patchwork of laws squeezes ex-cons
The net result of these "Good Landlord Laws," which essentially ban landlords from renting to felony probationers and parolees, and assess stiff penalties to landlords who don't enroll in these programs, is that such offenders, who've been released from incarceration for rehabilitation and post-release supervision, are forced to reside in clusters where a few landlords are willing to take a chance with them... not a good thing for folks who are trying to turn their lives around... or for communities in general, as this morning's SLTrib story aptly points out.

Ogden City, of course, a forerunning pioneer in the Good Landlord Program Movement, gets plenty of ink in this morning's SLTrib expose':
An Ogden ordinance may be largely to thank for cramming parolees and probationers into a few city blocks. The good landlord program, which began in 2005, gives participating landlords discounts on business licenses.
The program requires landlords to run credit and criminal-background checks on potential tenants and disqualify anyone on probation or parole for a felony conviction. The city says 83 percent of licensed rental units participate, as does Ogden's public housing authority.
And speaking of "ugly underbellies," there's more. It seems that Boss Godfrey is now going after the residential clustering:
Park Avenue also belongs to Ogden's good landlord program and has received a notice from the city that its tenants are putting it in violation. Victor Huhem, an attorney for the owners, said the landlords can't evict those tenants, but won't renew their leases when they expire. Being compliant with the program is a big incentive: Park Avenue would save about $11,000 a year.
At the Park Avenue apartments, Huhem described the complex as well-kept and trouble-free. People on supervision, he said, are the "best tenants."
"They don't want to make any mistakes," he said.
So the the Ogden Administration continues to make these people's lives miserable and now engages in turning up the heat. Seems no wonder that 62 percent of these parolees wind up back in the slam.

We dunno about all this... these folks need to reside somewhere, don't they, now that they've been released by corrections authorities into our community to begin their lives anew? We learn this morning of course that they can't reside in at least "nine other cities across Utah," either.

Hey, here's another great idea! Perhaps Boss Godfrey can buy these unfortunate folks, (who seem doomed to wear a scarlet letter for the rest of their lives,) a one-way ticket to
"Powderville, Utah." It's our understanding that the percipient Powderville Town government hasn't enacted a Good Landlord Law... at least not yet.

13 comments:

blackrulon said...

Does this mean that Val Southwick and Gadi Leesham are not eligible to rent in Ogden?

RudiZink said...

Good point, blackrulon... although I don't think Southwick will be looking for a post release residential rental any time soon.

And remember, Gadi wasn't personally convicted of any crime, and that its his company, Cover-all, Inc., (which actually took the California felony rap) which would be banned from renting a residential property in Ogden.

rat ur neighbors off said...

Yes, and the Mayor has the Fire Department out knocking on each and every door in Ogden asking if the home is a rental or owned by the occupant, asking questions such as are their more than one family living in the house, and if there are any RV's on the property-does anyone live in them.

The Mayor is putting the squeeze on landlords, by looking for more fines and fees, and using the Firefighters as his snitches.

Only in Matt Godfrey World.

Dan S. said...

The sad thing is that the Tribune has pretty much stopped covering anything that happens in Ogden except crime. So Trib readers are getting a picture of Ogden as a city of crime and a city of criminals.

Ironically, the article actually says that Utah County has about twice as many felony cases as Weber County. But this statement is buried where most readers will never see it.

Curmudgeon said...

Ah, I'm wondering: if a fireman --- or anyone else from Ogden City government, for that matter --- comes knocking at my door, inquiring as to how many people live in my house and whether they're all family, etc. or how many pets I have and what kinds, or similar what I guess we could call lifestyle questions, am I under any legal obligation to answer those questions?

The census is mandated by the Constitution, and so we are obliged to answer [though how much detail even the census can require is a matter of some dispute]. But I'm not sure we are obligated to answer questions from the city administration at the door, absent the asker having a warrant based probable cause to believe that we are in violation of an ordinance, or that some other illegal activity is taking place on the premises. Not "the Mayor was wondering," or "the Council would like to know," but probable cause already established.

Or am I wrong about that? Are we under a legal obligation to answer such questions? Anyone know?

disgusted said...

On Friday I received a copy of the Ogden City Redevelopment Agency agenda for this coming Tuesday night meeting. It was sent to me by the staff of the City Council though it appears to have been prepared by the administration’s Cindi Mansell. Below is the only item to be discussed before they all go to a work session.

Common Consent:
a. East Washington Urban Renewal Area. Proposed Resolution 2010-1 making a finding of blight regarding the proposed East Washington Urban Renewal Project Area and proposed Resolution 2010-2 selecting the East Washington Urban Renewal Project Area in the East Central Urban Renewal Survey Area and authorizing the preparation of a draft project area plan, including a project area budget, pursuant to Section 17C-2-102(1)(a)(ii)(B)(II) and (III), Utah Code Annotated 1953, as amended. (Set public hearing for April 13, 2010 – voice vote)


My comment to the City Council is what the heck is this item up for a vote? Why can’t you at least give some more details as to what is being discussed and voted on here? If you are truly the City Council that wants to add transparency to city governance why are you allowing communications about what you’re doing allowed to go out in such vague form on the topics? Why can’t you have your staff take what is given to them by the administration and add some meat to the description before you forward such information on to the public? Or do you really care about transparency?

Fireman Joe said...

Curm-They expect us to peek over fences to count gas meters, count mailboxes, if you say no we won't argue. We are only doing it because the chief won't say no.

Biker Babe said...

I got a letter about good landlords and paying a fine in Ogden when my oldest child was still living at home (different last name). I called someone and they told me they sent the letter because there were two different last names receiving mail at my address, so they automatically assumed I had a renter ... how did they know that? they couldn't really say, but I know only One City Water Bill is assigned to this address, so unless they were also peeking in mailboxes ...

js,
BB

Curmudgeon said...

fJ:

Understood. I was just curious about the legalities involved. City can, certainly, ask [whether it's a wise use of personnel is another matter]. I just wondered whether I or anyone had an obligation to answer. Thanks.

Fireman Joe said...

Curm-Here's what pisses me off about this-everyone in Ogden is guilty of until you answer the questions, while friends like Gadi have violated codes for years and don't have to answer for it.

Curmudgeon said...

FJ:

No argument from me on that, FJ. Selective enforcement of ordinances is one of the hallmarks of city administrations much given to cronyism.

constitutional rights said...

since Ogden has the most felons in the state, including mayor Godfrey this will be a ghost town and Godfrey already has a good start on that.

Curmudgeon said...

CR:

The Mayor has not been charged with, much less tried for or convicted of, any felony. I'd be leery of branding anyone who has not even been charged with a crime, much less convicted of one, of being a felon. I'd be especially cautious of doing that if I were posting under the name "Constitutional Rights."

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