Thursday May 24, 2012

The anti-blight ordinance passed by the City Council at the urging of Mayor James Ruberto just 19 months ago was a noteworthy accomplishment for Pittsfield. This is not the time to begin dismantling it.

The council on Tuesday sent to its Com mittee on Ordinance and Rules a proposal to eliminate several requirements in the ordinance proposed by Health Dir ector Meredith O’Leary. The council will be asked to eliminate the registration fee for landlords because costs have gone down since the program was instituted. The cost is expected to decline from the original $4,200 to conduct the registration to $1,200 this year, which is an argument to perhaps lower the fee but not to remove it.

The provision calling for landlords to determine if their residences are free of health code violations is not too much to ask and should not be eliminated. It’s the job of a health inspector to assure that the landlords are living up to those codes as they claim. The provision that landlords post information so that tenants can contact them is criticized as redundant but there is no harm in being doubly sure that this basic requirement is met.

Tinkering with this worthy ordinance will surely lead to open season being declared on the ordinance itself. It does not pose a threat to the city’s good landlords, or an undue hardship. It should be left alone until the war on blight is won.