Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Find Out What All the Landlord Drama Has to Do with You

Ok, People. So here's the deal. If you haven't heard, Salisbury landlords are in a quasi-politico war with the City of Salisbury because, to put it bluntly, the city is trying to get rental houses out of the neighborhoods. Who lives in those rental houses/ non-conforming uses? We do. So that's why you should care.

Back Story:
For some reason Joe Albero (the guy who runs the sbynews that we make fun of) decided that he hated SAPOA (Salisbury Area Property Owners Association...landlords) and wanted to make their lives miserable. Here at The Other SBY News, we don't hate SAPOA. SAPOA= Places to Live. Therefore, SAPOA= Friends/Roof Over Our Heads. We don't know why he hates them, but this is our guess: Albero likes candidates Cohen, Spies, and Ford (don't know about Mitchell) and really wants them to win the upcoming City Council election in Salisbury...that's about it. We don't know why Albero cares about this election at all since he lives in Delmar and can't vote, but we've never known why that little munchkin does what we does.

Anyway, for the last few days some anonymous individual has been using Joe's blog as a platform to launch random personal attacks against T.J. Maloney Esq. (a local landlord and lawyer who my sources say is reputable). The attacks basically say that T.J. is threatening college kids with eviction if they don't vote for Boda and Dryden. There was also talk of a months free rent, and other "intimidation tactics" and/or rewards for tenants who voted. Personally I think this is too unreliable a post even to make it onto the blog; there have been no witnesses to collaborate the story, no college students that I've heard of talking about it (and I was on campus for most of the day), and I don't think any business owner with a law degree would do anything quite that foolish.

I agree with Holierthanthou that some variation probably took place in which T.J. warned his tenants that Cohen, Spies, and Ford, if elected, would do everything in their power to make life difficult for college students, and then asked those tenants to go spread the word that we could be in deep trouble if the election goes to Cohen, Spies, or Ford and to tell their friends to vote. To my mind, that sounds much more plausible.

Relevance to you:
Regardless, all of this controversy does nothing more than distract us from the real question at hand: If Cohen, Spies, and Ford are elected, would it actually be detrimental to college students?

Now, I don't live under a rock- I know that the average house cat pays more attention (probably for longer periods of time) to politics in Salisbury than most college students do, but does that mean we should ignore an opportunity to educate ourselves? Here at The Other SBY News, we think not.

Where There's Smoke There's Fire:
Lets look at the facts. So far, the most reliable source to be passed around the blog sphere is a bill called the Neighborhood Legislative Package. In reading it extensively, I discovered that if it is passed, most kids who live off-campus (like myself) are gonna be shit out of luck. But I don't expect you to take my word for it. Here is the package itself, (or the parts of it that would directly effect students).

Part I Amortization Provision Eliminating All Lawful Nonconforming Uses
WHEREAS, the Mayor and Council recognize that a fundamental principle of zoning under Maryland law is to reduce nonconformance;
WHEREAS, the Mayor and Council find that prior to 1936 certain single-family residential dwellings were converted to multifamily residential dwellings;
WHEREAS, the Mayor and Council find that since 1936, the year the first zoning ordinance was enacted in the City of Salisbury and continuing to date, there has existed within the City the practice of converting single-family residences located in single-family zones to use as multifamily residential uses;
WHEREAS, the Mayor and Council recognize that the City of Salisbury’s records concerning zoning enforcement do not always provide sufficient data to determine the scope of conversions to unlawful multifamily uses and, in many cases, there exists no adequate means of determining which residences have been unlawfully converted to multifamily residential use subject to prosecution under the zoning ordinance;
WHEREAS, the Mayor and Council have determined that it is difficult for enforcement officials to ascertain which residences located in a single-family zone are lawful uses, unlawful uses, or lawful nonconforming uses and that attempting to enforce the zoning code on a case-by-case basis in this context would place an undue burden on the taxpayer;
WHEREAS, the Mayor and Council are concerned that a shortage of safe, code compliant, low and moderate income housing exists in the City of Salisbury and that the past conversions of single-family residences to multifamily residential use have provided and continue to provide, in many cases, unsafe and non-code compliant low and moderate income dwelling units in the City, which pose a threat to the health, safety, and welfare of the Citizens of Salisbury;
WHEREAS, the Mayor and Council are aware that some of the single-family residences converted to multifamily residential uses are owned by individuals and entities whose livelihood is largely dependent upon income from the rental units;
WHEREAS, the purpose of these amendments is to promote the goal of returning nonconformance to conformance by ending unlawful nonconforming uses, establishing uniform standards and criteria for remedying the problem of unlawful and, in some cases, lawful conversions from single-family to multifamily residential uses and, in so doing, incorporate the concepts of equity necessary to protect those who should be deemed faultless. The Council also recognizes that enactment of this amendment to the zoning code may create practical difficulties or unusual hardships. Nothing herein shall be construed to limit the rights of any person under the provisions of the Zoning Code.

In case you didn't have the patience to read all that, (I don't blame you), the shorthand of it says that although the city has been allowing rental properties in residential areas since 1936, although they don't have adequate means of determining which houses were lawfully converted to rentals, although some people depend on the income of their rental houses to survive, and although lots of people would be inconvenienced by eliminating "non-conforming" rentals, they are going to go ahead and force any house they deem "nonconforming" to convert back to a single family home anyway. Translation: if you live in a house the city thinks is non-conforming, you're out.

The Crime Free Lease Addendum (You'll want to pay close attention to this)
In consideration for the execution or renewal of a lease of the dwelling unit identified in the lease and described therein as ___________________________, Manager or Owner and Resident agree as follows:
A resident, any member(s) of the resident’s household, a guest or any other person affiliated with the resident, while at or near the resident premises shall not engage in criminal activity, any act intended to facilitate criminal activity, permit the dwelling unit to be used for, or to facilitate criminal activity, or otherwise engage in any illegal or unlawful activity as set forth in more detail below, by way of example and not by way of limitation:
A. Salisbury Municipal Code Chapter 8.20 and ' 6.04.100, which prohibit certain noises.
B. Maryland Annotated Code, Criminal Law ''10-114 and 10-117, which prohibit the unlawful possession or furnishing of alcoholic beverages.
C. Maryland Annotated Code, Criminal Law ''10-201 and 10-202, which prohibit disorderly conduct, disturbance of the peace, and the keeping of a disorderly house.
D. Maryland Annotated Code, Criminal Law Title 5, Subtitle 6, which prohibits the unlawful sale or possession of controlled dangerous substances.
E. Maryland Annotated Code, Criminal Law Titles 12 and 13, which prohibit gaming.
F. Maryland Annotated Code, Criminal Law '11-306 and Salisbury Municipal Code '9.08.170, which prohibit prostitution and acts relating thereto.
G. Salisbury Municipal Code, Chapter 15, which contains the City of Salisbury’s Property Maintenance Code.
H. Maryland Annotated Code, Criminal Law §§ 3-201-3-204 which prohibit assault and reckless endangerment.
I. Maryland Annotated Code, Criminal Law, Title 4, which prohibits weapons related offenses.
J. Maryland Annotated Code, Criminal Law, Title 6, subtitle 4, which prohibits trespassing in various forms.
ANY VIOLATION OF THE ABOVE PROVISIONS, BY WAY OF EXAMPLE AND NOT BY WAY OF LIMITATION, SHALL BE A MATERIAL AND IRREPARABLE BREACH OF THE LEASE AND CAUSE FOR TERMINATION OF THE TENANCY IN ACCORDANCE WITH APPLICABLE LAW. Unless otherwise provided by law, a criminal conviction is not required to be in breach; a verified call for service, by way of example and not by way of limitation, as defined in section 15.26 of the City of Salisbury’s Municipal Code, shall be sufficient to establish cause for breach of this lease.

In case of conflict between the provisions of this addendum and any other provisions of the lease, the provisions of this addendum shall govern.

Ok so, the astute reader will have picked up by now that if you OR ANYBODY ELSE YOU LIVE WITH gets caught smoking a joint, underage drinking (or is in the presence of someone underage drinking), fighting, or making noise (just to name a few) then YOU AND YOUR ROOMMATES are all out. You don't need a prior record to get kicked out either. They just need to write you up ONE TIME and you're gone.

Who's Responsible:
As you can see, this bill is packed to the brim with legislation that would make college life a lot less fun and a lot more difficult. Now, to be fair, Tim Spies was not on the Council to write it. But Terry Cohen, that chick that is in cahoots with him, who is running for re-election as we speak, has said numerous times that she was instrumental in drafting it. (So did Mayor Ireton and Debbie Campbell but there's nothing we can do about them- he's the mayor and she's already in).

Students, please take a minute to ask yourselves: do you want somebody in power who is screwing you over this badly? Weigh the pros and cons of going to vote in the City Council Elections on April 5th.

It takes 5 seconds.
You won't have to risk your entire future being ruined because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, (because now, for almost any criminal citation you can get expelled from SU).
You have a higher chance of staying in your house til you graduate.
You are technically doing your civic duty and being a good American (insert flag wave).

You have to get up to go vote.

Now, just because I made this easy for you guys doesn't mean I don't think everybody should still do their homework- don't just vote for Boda and Dryden because I think you should. Read about them. It takes 5 seconds. Holierthanthou provided all the links to their websites below.

Remember: In order to vote in the upcoming election you must be registered to vote in the City of Salisbury!

Good Luck everybody! And as always, Godspeed.


Anonymous said...

WTF? Who is responsible for this?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info...wasn't aware of all the rules that would effect us...i need to register!!!!!!!!!

Holierthanthou said...

Anonymous 10:13. First and foremost we are students of Salisbury University. We are here to provide an arena for the students' voice to be heard. We are just as anonymous as you are.

BlackSheba said...

And we are happy to hear your thoughts, so don't hold back! Have a great day :D

Mortis Olaf said...

I don't get Salisbury. They don't have any industry outside of that college...and chickens. Why bone those throwing them all of their bones? it's time to join the rest of the world in 2011.

Anonymous said...

If you read Alberos blog you will see he does not endorse Ford. He has been supporting Boda from day one.

BlackSheba said...

Nope, that's not right actually.