RHA Story's Facts Twisted in Letter

(The following is in reply to Ian Crosby's letter, published Wednesday, Jan. 11.)The Rental Housing Association of Puget Sound (RHA) was pleased to see that your publication picked up on the rental-property inspections issue and brought this issue into the living rooms of Seattle ("City Council OKs Study of Rental-Housing Inspection Program," by Russ Zabel, Dec. 28, 2007). There clearly are very important implications on one's right to enjoyment of privacy in one's own home, which the City of Seattle is moving toward trampling.RHA would like to respond to a letter to the editor written by Mr. Ian B. Crosby, as some of his statements were very misleading and misinformed. Arguing that "the concern (of privacy rights being violated) was completely misplaced in light of the ruling by the Washington Supreme Court that a Pasco-style inspection program does not involve a government intrusion" is not as black and white an issue as one is led to believe. The owner of a single-family home certainly would not accept this same argument if the government wanted to inspect their own home.Also of issue is Mr. Crosby's assertion (without providing facts or examples) that the current complaint-based system has proven to be a failure. To this RHA would point out that, according to Seattle's Department of Planning and Development (DPD), more than 95 percent of all code complaints reach compliance each year. The fact is that the laws and codes are sufficient to remedy egregious, unsafe conditions, but only if they are enforced by local jurisdictions. Problem properties will only be improved - and hopefully eliminated - by the consistent application of existing law and code by responsible local government entities.In regards to the math produced showing the number of rental units receiving notices of violation as a percentage of the entire rental stock, RHA would like to offer clarification. In a given year DPD receives approximately 4,000 various code complaints. The number of housing complaints (not even specific to rental housing) received by DPD is only 475. While 475 of 4,000 does equal 11.875 percent, this percentage merely shows the number of complaints attributable to housing in relation to the total number of complaints received by DPD. As a percentage of the total number of rental units in the city of Seattle (approximately 140,000 units) 475 complaints represents only 0.0034 percent. This math also is assuming all 475 housing-code complaints are attributable to rental housing specifically, and that each complaint case occurred at a unique property. The only error in the math is how Mr. Crosby chose to apply it incorrectly to suit his purposes.RHA has been more than willing to work collaboratively with the city and neighborhood groups to find solutions to known housing problems in specific neighborhoods. If the problem is with boarding housing in the University District, as this is Mr. Crosby's concern specific to his neighborhood, then let's address the problem of boarding housing - not punish all owners of rental housing in the city, the vast majority of which are units that lie outside of the University District and have nothing to do with boarding housing. Unfortunately, the city has decided to pay only lip service to such ideas and appears to be set on entering a tenant's home without cause or a warrant.Julie Johnson, President, Rental Housing Association(Editor's note: The Herald-Outlook neglected to state last week that it continues to stand by Russ Zabel's story as it was written.)[[In-content Ad]]