FLORENCE, S.C. — Florence City Councilwoman Pat Gibson-Hye Moore has has had enough of the city's slumlords.
Gibson-Hye Moore spoke Monday about her efforts to contact landlords at a special-called city council meeting held to discuss a proposed rental registry for the city.
The proposed ordinance would require landlords to obtain both a $25 rental permit and a business license from the city.
To receive the rental permit, the landlord must designate a permanent local representative who lives within 50 miles of the city.
The landlord also must certify that the property being rented meets city building codes. A portion of the language indicates that the landlord agrees to an inspection when he or she applies for permit. However, such inspections won't be conducted without the permission of the occupant or a warrant. Renters and others also can initiate an inspection through a complaint.
The property being rented must also meet city zoning requirements.
Gibson-Hye Moore implied that she is disappointed that some of the city's "slumlords" did not participate in the meeting. She said that the city council had heard from the good guys, the people doing the right things for their renters, but not anyone not following the rules.
Other speakers at the meeting included local lawyer and property developer Gary I. Finkea, local commercial realtor Barnett Greenberg, local realtor Joey McMillan, Pee Dee Realtor Association Nell Folkens and local realtor Gary Dauksch.
Finklea told the council that he is opposed to the proposal but has offered an alternative rental registry ordinance as a compromise that he said worked better with the existing codes adopted by the city.
Greenberg said he was concerned that the proposal added another layer of bureaucracy on top of what business owners are subject to.
Florence Mayor Stephen J. Wukela said the ordinance is designed to give an enforcement mechanism to the city staff.
McMillan spoke about the possibility of unintended consequences like property owners being so frustrated by the enforcement notices that they eventually evict a tenant for a minor violation rather than continue to deal with enforcement issue.
Folkens spoke along the same lines, saying she believed the ordinance would increase homeless, because the added cost of compliance for owners would cause them to raise rates so high that the most vulnerable couldn't afford to live in the rental property anymore.
Dauksch repeated many of these points.
"I notice that we have all of the good guys speaking, the ones that's doing the right thing," Gibson-Hye Moore said. "Where's all of our slumlords? And slum management companies who let roofs cave in on people, who don't provide heat in the winter, who only have one or two outlets working in the whole place and people are using drop cords? Where are all the ones that don't care if a person dies in that house that's uninhabitable in the first place?"
She added that those landlords and property owners are the ones to blame for the city's efforts on the ordinance.
Earlier in the meeting, Clint Moore, the assistant city manager for planning and development, said her district and the other two-thirds of northern Florence are hotspots of rental areas.
Moore represents City Council District 2, which includes east Florence and roughly one-third of north Florence.
The remainder of north Florence is represented by City Councilwoman Teresa Myers Ervin.
Myers Ervin is the Democratic nominee for mayor.
Wukela added that Gibson-Hye Moore has spent weeks trying to contact the bad actors.
Gibson-Hye Moore said she wanted to hear from the "slumlords" or she would begin naming names. She added that when she called, there was always an excuse for why they couldn't talk to her.
"They need to be out of business," she said. "They don't even need to exist [as businesses]."
She added that it was always the bad actors that make the good actors suffer.
Trudy Neibert spoke in favor of the proposal.
The proposal will be discussed by the council at future meetings, including a potential meeting scheduled for next week.
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