Friday, February 3, 2017

The Logical Next Step

A popular "protest position" making the rounds today is the "When they came for the Muslims, I said nothing. When they came for the gays I said nothing.  Yada, yada, yada.  When they came for me there was no one left to speak against it"  The meaning behind it is that you have to speak out against anything that could some day be used against you when it first starts--not when it is finally going to affect you--because by then, it will be too late.

That's why Oshkosh homeowners may want to consider jumping onto the opposition bandwagon against the Rental Registry Program--or at least the requirement for inspection of all units every five years.  The arguments made by city officials in defending the inspection reqirements are "Everyone deserves to live in a safe and healthy environment" or "Not everyone realizes what their rights are when it comes to living conditions".  And the inspections are being applied to all rentals in the city because "we aren't allowed to just target the bad parts of town".

Keep in mind that it wouldn't be that hard to apply the very same arguments to all of the private homes in Oshkosh as well.  Not every house in a dumpy neighborhood is a rental.  There are plenty of homes that may be unfit for human habitation that the person living there owns.  It could easily be argued that they too "deserve" to live in a health environment.  How many homes have wiring that is over 100-years old and could fail or catch fire at any time?  How many have heating systems that are faulty and could produce carbon monoxide?  You could definitely argue that a house in disrepair is just as "dangerous" as a rental unit with all of the same problems--so wouldn't it be a matter of "public safety" that city inspectors get a look at those too on a regular basis?  Yes, homes can be inspected already on a complaint basis--but that is true for rental units as well.

Plus, think of the added revenue the city could garner (not that inspection fees are IN ANY WAY the driving force behind the Rental Registry) as inspectors find little "do it yourself" projects that homeowners never bothered to get construction permits for.  Add to that "re-inspection fees" after minor changes are made to the wiring job you did yourself in the basement--or the gas line you ran out to the patio grill and fire pit.  And don't forget that inspectors wouldn't even have to get into your house to conduct their "inspection"--or at least bill you for it.

So don't brush off concerns about the Rental Registry Program as "not my problem"--or defend it by saying "It's for the good of the city"--because it's just a matter of time before they come for your inspection fees--I mean "preservation of your safety".

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