By 2 UrbanGirls
INGLEWOOD — Residents have taken to social media to voice their complaints about annual home registration fees that are being assessed to property owners and landlords through the city’s Housing Protection Department in accordance with provisions of the city’s housing protection ordinance.
Residents are angry that regardless of whether they have a tenant, they are required to pay registration fees to subsidize the new department.
According to the city’s website, “if your property type is exempt according to the Inglewood Municipal Code Ordinance 21-09, you must still register your property and/or units and claim the exemption(s) with the [Housing Protection Department.
“If you are a homeowner and you rent out your home, you are only required to register, and as long as you do so before the deadline, you will not have to pay fees,” said Yakema Decatur, director of the Housing Protection Department. “Single-family homes that are rented out are exempt from housing protection laws, but all residential properties are required to register annually.”
The city will waive registration fees completed between Jan. 7 and March 31 next year.
The city will issue a business tax certificate for the registration fees, which must be produced to any revenue inspector and/or code enforcement officer, requesting verification.
The city will begin enforcement May 1 against any property owner or landlord who fails to register pursuant to Inglewood Municipal Code Section 8-126.
The city was pressured into enacting rent control as a means to stop rent gauging that residents complained was occurring as a result of gentrification fueled by new developments.
Discussions began in 2019, with an emergency ordinance that became permanent in October 2020.
The council created an ordinance that provided certain actions the city had to take, including assessing fees to recoup enforcement costs, and to create a housing board, which residents complained had not been done.
An Inglewood property owner attended the Sept. 21 City Council meeting to challenge information provided to him from the Housing Protection Department, regarding evictions, but also inquired why the city wasn’t following its own ordinance when it came to establishing a rent board.
“You don’t have a board setup that was supposed to be done last October and how do you make an ordinance, setup a board and not do it?” Greg Essery asked.
He repeatedly asked the mayor when he was going to set up the board. Butts never offered an answer.
Residents shared their frustrations on social media about the new fees.
“I am a retired property owner on a fixed income and I knew that if rent control was implemented it would be disastrous,” said Pearson Lynell. “My taxes have already increased by more than $400 per year, which may not seem like a lot, but it is if you’re on a fixed income.”
Some blamed the mayor directly.
“Mayor Butts, you’re not watching out for the very people who voted for such a capitalist as yourself,” said Kimberly McKay.
Others say the city isn’t safe so why the continued increase in the cost of living?
“They want to create all these fees and squeeze money out of people for what,” asked Ana Brown. “For my car to be stolen? My house to be broken into? City of Champions, huh?”
During the city’s budget presentation, another resident submitted a public comment suggesting the city was consolidating the Housing Protection Department with the Inglewood Housing Authority.
“It appears that the affordable housing department is consolidating with housing protection,” wrote Marvin McCoy. “Since the budget proposes consolidating both departments will the housing protection operating administrative costs such as salary and operations [be added] to the affordable housing program’s budget?”
When the housing protection department was created, the initial funding came from the city’s reserves and the staff report identified registration fees as a way to recoup those costs.
Residents are concerned the new fee appears to be a thinly veiled tax.
“Is this a workaround for Proposition 13?” McCoy asked.
The city received its first half of a $31 million allotment under the American Recovery Plan Act, which they have not added to the current year’s budget, nor have any discussions taken place on how the city plans on spending it.
2 Urban Girls is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the Compton and Inglewood areas. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.