published on November 14, 2016 - 12:57 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Fresno City Councilmembers Clint Olivier and Steve Brandau have announced a couple of initiatives “to bring accountability and end slum-lord housing in Fresno,” according to a news release.

The initiatives are called the Anti-Slumlord Enforcement Team (ASET) and the Landlord-Tenant Ombudsman (LTO). The ASET manager and LTO offices will be accessible to the public at city hall, and tenants will be able to file complaints to the LTO, who will review the request, contact the landlord and set an agreement for corrective actions of housing violations.

If the landlord fails to address the violations, the complaint will be transferred to the ASET manager, who will work with specialized code enforcement officers to address issues.

“If the property is found to have chronic history of significant violations, ASET shall investigate other properties of the landlord to determine if expanded inspections are required,” according to the release.

“Through these measures, The City of Fresno is demonstrating that it is committed to crafting effective policy that will have a positive impact for all of Fresno — tenants and landlords,” Olivier said in a statement.

The initiatives are expected to be heard and voted on by the Fresno City Council in the coming weeks.

One person at city hall unimpressed by the measure is Mayor Ashley Swearengin, who has pushed for tighter enforcement of substandard housing in the wake of the Summerset Village Apartments situation last year, when about 1,000 residents went without hot water or heat for several weeks.

“It is always gratifying when councilmembers propose resolutions that codify what the Administration is already doing. This resolution simply renames the existing task force from ‘Strike Team on Problem Properties’ to ‘Anti-Slum Enforcement Team’ and adds 3 additional code enforcement officers,” Swearengin said in a statement.

“While we think the councilmembers are well-meaning and are trying to reinforce our ongoing efforts to address substandard housing, unfortunately, this resolution would water down the Administration’s STOPP efforts by inspecting minimal units on egregious properties. If that was intentional, then the Administration will vehemently oppose this resolution. We need to be adding tools to our tool box to combat slum housing, not taking them away.”

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