Back when the City of Ludington decided to put rental inspection revenues in the 2015 budget and approved the program late that same year, you never heard of a shortage of rental units in Ludington, let alone a shortage of affordable rental housing. City hall saw it as a revenue producer, a way to add another city official, a way to improve the rental housing stock, a way for them to qualify for more grants, and a gateway for them to eventually get around the Fifth Amendment protections afforded to citizens that they swore to protect. Most landlords and tenants saw it for what it was and came out in numbers to object. To no avail; the inspection process began in 2016.
By 2018, city leaders were recognizing the fact that there were housing issues in the city limits. The guy who led the charge for rental inspections, City Manager John Shay, noted: "We have a pretty significant housing shortage." He didn't take the credit for being the cause of the housing shortage, so I helped him understand it and gave credit to others in the City's team. Statewide recognition of our area's problems were reported in multiple news outlets later that month, likely as a clarion call that all Ludington citizens were ready to be exploited by developers already exploiting a broken system in cities to our south. Our affordable housing shortage was due solely to the government stepping in between two folks who had contractual agreements between each other that they thought were advantageous to them.
For the last seven years, city hall has sent government agents into the sanctity of people's homes for an ever-increasing amount of fees imposed by your elected representatives. Now they are asking for even more from the landlords, because city hall feels they have the power to do so. The city assessor, contractor Dan Kerwin, sent out a form this last Thursday, presumably to all landlords, introduced by assessing clerk, Karen Haldeman:
Pardon the resolution of the form and letter, but it is effectively asking for a whole lot of intrusive questions that should be confidential when a tenant and a landlord agree to enter into a relationship where one pays the other to live on their property. It's really none of the government's business, much of that information should already be available through inspections, but too many people in this country will fill out such a form rather than resist the intrusion. Perhaps a few of our citizen landlords noticed this outrageous invasion of privacy, because the next day, the contracted city assessor used a more conciliatory tactic:
One thing I can agree with the Dan is that every landlord should have a fantastic weekend and move both of these obnoxious emails into their trash bin, then make the time to write up a good public comment for tomorrow's city council meeting letting them know that city hall needs to stay in their lane and ask them whether Dan Kerwin bothered to demand the same information (when relevant) from regular homeowners. No? Then leave these small businesspeople alone!
I'm trying to make sense of this request from the Assessor. Most of the information should already be known. The personal information, that being the rent paid and who pays the utilities, is not the City's concern. I hope landlords will not give out that information because as far as I can tell there is no reason for the CIty to be asking for it. Again, the CIty is up to something, God knows what. This is not going to benefit the citizens. It's up to the landlords to get to the truth as to why this survey has been sent out. Another silly question on this survey asks,"owner is occupant?" If the owner is an occupant of any unit that he/she owns then that unit is not a rental. Who are these people that are running/ruining Ludington? Were they sent down from the mother ship?
One of our concerned citizens, Verna Chavalia, brought this topic up at the front of the Monday LCC meeting, asking some questions politely about why this information was needed for the purpose it was proposed to be used for, among other things. The council and usually responsive city manager, failed to address the concerns during the meeting, I noted that omission at the beginning of my second comment and it still wasn't addressed afterwards-- until the meeting was over and Foster talked with the woman in person. According to her, she was no wiser on the topic.
These are further red flags for those who are apprehensive about what is being asked here, and further proof that they are gathering this information for some other reason than stated.
LANDLORDS: For your own good, do not fill this information out, it's going to be used by the government to help you, just like they did when they passed rental inspections and caused the housing crisis in Ludington.