Megan Schellong / Mustang News

Update 1:27 p.m. Wed., March 8:

On Tuesday, March 7 San Luis Obispo City Council voted unanimously in a 5-0 vote to repeal the Rental Housing Inspection Program. Council members had informally voted against the program at the town hall meeting in February. Tuesday’s meeting marked its formal repeal.

Original story: 

City Council voted to eliminate the mandatory inspections of the Rental Housing Inspection Program Thursday, according to council woman Andy Pease.

Roughly 180 members of the community gathered at the San Luis Obispo Veteran’s Hall Thursday evening to discuss the direction of the current Rental Housing Inspection Program.

“What we’d like to see instead is a program that is based on a more robust complaint mechanism and education for tenants and landlords on health and safety,” Pease said.

The goal of the meeting was to bring together members to share ideas. However, little progress was made for the first two hours of the event, and residents gradually left 45 minutes into the forum.

“It definitely hasn’t gone where I hoped,” councilman Aaron Gomez said while the discussion split into groups to develop ideas to present to the council.

For the first hour, a moderator initiated a series of questions through a powerpoint that asked residents to discuss what they’d like to see come out of the meeting and how to communicate with each other. When given the microphone, some residents questioned the amount of time taken to advance the conversation toward policy changes.

“It was a complete failure because many residents left before public comment. The main reason to have this meeting is to hear the public,” Dan Carpenter, former San Luis Obispo councilman and local resident, said.

Public comment did not occur until two and a half hours into the event when nearly 50 percent of the attendees left.

The majority of those present lived in San Luis Obispo for at least 20 years. Less than 10 Cal Poly students showed up.

Only one Cal Poly student remained during the wrap-up of the public comment where he expressed that he’d like to see more resources available to students regarding their rights as tenants. Other community members, including Cal Poly graduate Paul Rys, agreed.

“Students have the right to opt out of the program as tenants and the City of San Luis Obispo hasn’t communicated that,” Rys, a small-time property manager, said. “The students have been deliberately not informed.”

Carpenter also said that some of the Rental Housing Inspection Program was unfairly targeted to students.

“In my opinion, the non-student residents’ motivation for the program was to drive students out of neighborhoods,” Carpenter said.

Students, specifically those from Cal Poly, were addressed frequently in the proposal section of the evening. Rys mentioned it’s not the responsibility of the city to provide housing for students, but rather Cal Poly’s. He and other residents suggested looking at what other universities do in terms of city-student housing relations.

Toward the end of the discussion, members brought forth their ideas about where they see the housing program going. Many stated that they simply wanted to repeal it, making modifications along the way, including education programs for tenants.

After all the proposals were brought forth, the city council voted to repeal the Rental Housing Inspection Program. City council’s next meeting on February 21 at 4 p.m. in the Council Chamber at 990 Palm St.

City Council will adopt a formal ordinance to repeal the Rental Housing Inspection Program on March 7, according to council woman Andy Pease.

Note: A previous version of this article stated that a final decision on the Rental Housing Inspection was not made. It has been updated to read that the Rental Housing Inspection was repealed. A previous version of this article stated that city council voted to repeal the Rental Housing Inspection Program. It has been updated to read that the Rental Housing Inspection Program will be formally repealed March 7. 

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