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SLO repeals rental inspection program and starts anew 

On March 7, the San Luis Obispo City Council put a quick end to a rocky chapter of city history, unanimously voting to repeal the Rental Housing Inspection Program (RHIP).

In the wake of the repeal, the City Council discussed the next steps to try to protect tenants and rectify the unsafe conditions that persist in some rentals. The council directed city staff to undergo a broad community outreach effort in order to gather input on alternative strategies.

“If you get some honest feedback, you might be able to figure out what people think will actually work,” said Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson.

Potential RHIP replacement programs are still on the table, including self-certification, educational programs for both landlords and tenants, and online tools for tenants to report unsafe situations.

Christianson argued that the city shouldn’t assume tenants willing to live in squalid conditions would be driven to take voluntary action against a landlord.

“They are not empowered,” she said. “There’s a lot more people like that than we necessarily know about.”

The council also discussed strengthening its enforcement by raising the fines for violators.

“I think that’s one of the ways that we’ll be able to make a big improvement,” Councilman Dan Rivoire said. “I think that’s going to be key.”

City staff will report back to the council with the results of the outreach. While the future is unclear, one thing is certain: Don’t expect a mandatory inspection program to come back.

“We cannot be in everyone’s home,” Councilman Aaron Gomez said. “I don’t think this police state from us really worked.”

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