The Council And Mayor-Elect Need To Heed The Call

It comes as a surprise to no one that most of the candidates running for office in Jamestown this year want to take a new approach in the city’s neighborhoods.

Thoughts on neighborhoods were a common topic during this election season.

Mayoral candidates suggested everything from tax credit programs for home repairs, more aggressive code enforcement, rental inspections whenever a property is sold or transferred in the city, hold tenants and landlords equally responsible for substandard properties or creating an application process for operating permits for rental apartments and houses that include inspections to make sure the property is up to code.

Council candidates suggested incentives for lead paint abatement, more aggressive code enforcement, rewarding landlords who maintain their properties, finding more grant funding to purchase and redevelop foreclosed and abandoned homes, getting neighbors more involved in reporting delipidated houses, increase homeownership through the Community Reinvestment Act, get the Jamestown Police Department more involved in coordinated activities with the Department of Development to address housing violations more quickly, rental registration, low-interest city loans for small repairs, establish an advocacy council for landlords, tenants and property owners and finding ways to allocate more resources for code enforcement.

Many of these ideas were just that — ideas. They weren’t policy. No legal language to change the City Code was ever written. Yet, signs were being hung on apartment doors last week claiming that a vote for Democratic Party candidates would increase rents throughout the city. The signs claimed Democrats were proposing a landlord tax on each apartment in Jamestown that would raise rents as much as $30 a month and have inspections inside city apartments.

Anyone who talks a walk throughout Jamestown knows something different must be done to improve city neighborhoods. Given the furor more than a decade ago when the City Council first tried its hand at a rental registration, the fear tactics regarding the barebones ideas being discussed during this election season shouldn’t be surprising.

The signs are also a reminder to those who have been elected to the council that discussions of neighborhood improvements are going to be rocky. People won’t be happy by some of the proposals. Voices will be raised. Arguments will happen. City Council meetings will be packed once the topic is raised. Council members must stick to their guns if they feel they are making a policy that helps city residents. Falling prey to scare tactics like the mysterious anonymous letters will only ensure that the status quo continues in Jamestown’s neighborhoods.

And that, frankly, is unacceptable. Voters were clear that action must be taken to improve the city’s neighborhoods. The council and Mayor-elect Eddie Sundquist must heed that call.


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