Monday, October 22, 2018
News Roundup

Port Richey toughens rules on peeling paint, boarded windows, other housing "blight"

PORT RICHEY — A newcomer to the Port Richey City Council already is making his mark by pushing for the city to adopt minimum housing standards to combat blight.

City Council member Richard Bloom moved quickly to fulfill a campaign promise he made in April, taking on what he views as deteriorating housing stock in the city. In his second meeting on the council, Bloom’s ordinance to beef up the residential code and adopt parts of Pasco County’s minimum housing standards won in a 3-2 vote.

"It’s really time to do something about it," Bloom said.

The vote came after city staff presented a proposal outlining areas city ordinances leave code enforcement officers’ hands tied. Currently, officers have no way to address residential issues that draw recurring complaints, including peeling paint, mildew-covered walls, damaged or boarded windows, bad plumbing, dilapidated fences, missing smoke detectors and accessory structures, such as decks.

"We have no tools to address these issues," said Bill Muse of the city’s Building and Development Services Department.

Bloom moved to create a staff-recommended "Residential Maintenance Program." And he called on council members to adopt parts of the county’s minimum housing standards — bare-bones requirements for residences, such as working plumbing, fire protection and electric service. The standards also deal with exterior wall conditions, windows, roofs, structure foundations and property maintenance.

The motion won favor from Mayor Dale Massad and City Councilman Terry Rowe. Council members Will Dittmer and Jennifer Sorrell voted against it.

Dittmer and Sorrell said they support putting more teeth in the city code, but they wanted to hold a workshop on the matter and obtain input from the public before the city attorney drafted an ordinance.

Bloom viewed that as holding up progress, and "kicking the can down the road." Massad agreed, saying that even if council members pass an ordinance, they can change it at any time.

"I always think we should move things down the road, because workshops don’t work," Massad said.

Meanwhile, the council voted unanimously to allot $50,000 for a residential grant program to coincide with new residential requirements. The money would be available to residents for exterior improvements to their homes.

The council broke the funds into two pots, with $25,000 set aside for $1,000 grants for applicants making less than the median household income, or around $38,000. The other $25,000 would be available to applicants making more than the median household income, but they would have to match the city’s grant with $1,000 of their own money.

"It is a way to help the residents comply with the new residential requirements," City Manager Vince Lupo said.

PORT RICHEY — A newcomer to the Port Richey City Council already is making his mark by pushing for the city to adopt minimum housing standards to combat blight.

City Council member Richard Bloom moved quickly to fulfill a campaign promise he made in April, taking on what he views as deteriorating housing stock in the city. In his second meeting on the council, Bloom’s ordinance to beef up the residential code and adopt parts of Pasco County’s minimum housing standards won in a 3-2 vote.

"It’s really time to do something about it," Bloom said.

The vote came after city staff presented a proposal outlining areas city ordinances leave code enforcement officers’ hands tied. Currently, officers have no way to address residential issues that draw recurring complaints, including peeling paint, mildew-covered walls, damaged or boarded windows, bad plumbing, dilapidated fences, missing smoke detectors and accessory structures, such as decks.

"We have no tools to address these issues," said Bill Muse of the city’s Building and Development Services Department.

Bloom moved to create a staff-recommended "Residential Maintenance Program." And he called on council members to adopt parts of the county’s minimum housing standards — bare-bones requirements for residences, such as working plumbing, fire protection and electric service. The standards also deal with exterior wall conditions, windows, roofs, structure foundations and property maintenance.

The motion won favor from Mayor Dale Massad and City Councilman Terry Rowe. Council members Will Dittmer and Jennifer Sorrell voted against it.

Dittmer and Sorrell said they support putting more teeth in the city code, but they wanted to hold a workshop on the matter and obtain input from the public before the city attorney drafted an ordinance.

Bloom viewed that as holding up progress, and "kicking the can down the road." Massad agreed, saying that even if council members pass an ordinance, they can change it at any time.

"I always think we should move things down the road, because workshops don’t work," Massad said.

Meanwhile, council members directed the city manager to develop a $50,000 residential grant program to coincide with the new requirements. The money would be available to residents for exterior improvements to their homes. The council will vote on the program at a later meeting.

They discussed breaking the funds into two pots, with $25,000 set aside for $1,000 grants for applicants making less than the median household income, or around $38,000. The other $25,000 would be available to applicants making more than the median household income, but they would have to match the city’s grant with $1,000 of their own money.

"It is a way to help the residents comply with the new residential requirements," City Manager Vince Lupo said.

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