Monday, April 22, 2002

Hamilton to rework ordinance

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — After digesting the public's comments at two large public hearings, Hamilton city officials will start working to modify a proposal that would require landlords to register tenants with the city.

        “We're a long way off from voting on an ordinance,” said Hamilton City Councilman Richard Holzberger, who co-chaired both hearings.

        The proposed landlord-tenant law has provoked enormous public reaction. About 300 people attended the first public hearing on April 4, and some 350 streamed into Garfield Junior High School's gymnasium for the second hearing Thursday. The law is designed to reduce crime and improve living conditions in rental housing. It would require landlords to register their tenants, submit to fire and health inspections and pay annual per-unit fees ranging from $5 to $150.

        Many landlords and tenants oppose the law because they believe it would violate their constitutional rights and drive up rents.

        But the two public hearings have convinced some of the law's opponents that the city will work out an acceptable compromise.

        “I believe city officials have heard there are concerns with the proposed ordinance and are willing to listen to alternatives as long as it accomplishes their goal,” said Missy McCall Hammonds, president of the Investment Property Owners Association, a nonprofit group composed mostly of Hamilton property owners.

        At the request of Hamilton landlords, the city will look at programs in Springfield and in the Cincinnati neighborhoods of Price Hill and Avondale designed to cut back crime and create better living conditions in apartment buildings. Ms. Hammonds said Springfield's program has reduced crime in apartment buildings by 65 percent.

        Hamilton police say rental properties generate 77 percent of the crime reports.

        Mr. Holzberger said City Council will continue to listen to suggestions as it develops a new draft of the proposed ordinance.


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