Greensboro is holding a “drop in public information session” to give people a chance to learn about the proposed “Good Repair Ordinance” on Wednesday, May 15 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. in the Tannenbaum Room of Greensboro Central Library at 219 N. Church St.
These drop-in sessions are a brilliant, yet diabolical process the city uses to divide and conquer opposition. In December 2017 when the city attempted to hold a drop in session about the two proposed downtown parking decks, Rev. Nelson Johnson and his followers protested the lack of public dialogue and got their way. Instead of a drop-in session they got a question and answer period with Mayor Nancy Vaughan and then City Manager Jim Westmoreland.
The way the drop-in sessions work, you could have 50 people attend who are adamantly opposed to a plan who walk away thinking that no one shares their views. The city employees present to answer questions, are there to support the city’s position whatever it is and often those who attend only have the opportunity to speak to city employees.
It’s a brilliant way for the City Council to be able to claim “transparency” when the entire procedure is designed to placate people and derail opposition.
Something as major as an ordinance that brings new regulations to bear on every nonresidential building in the city, deserves an actual televised public hearing.
This ordinance represents a major change for the city. It is not changing existing regulations, but creating a whole new set of regulations for nonresidential buildings. If the ordinance passes numerous buildings in Greensboro will instantly be out of compliance and the owners subject to being forced to make repairs or demolish their buildings.
What the “Good Repair Ordinance” will do is require every privately owned nonresidential building in the city regardless of age to comply with the International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC), unless it has been declared a historic structure or is in a recognized historic district.
When you consider that this is not the ordinance the City Council had considered earlier this year you have to question the plan for enforcement. What the City Council had talked about and what is on the City Council’s legislative agenda, a list of 11 items the Council asked the state legislature to pass, is a similar ordinance that would apply only to buildings in the downtown.
But the Greensboro City Council has no one who could push the bill through the state Senate, so instead of giving up on the idea the Council decided to make the ordinance citywide because that does not require approval by the state legislature. But if the City Council believes that what the city needs is an ordinance to bring buildings downtown into compliance with the IPMC, why is the proposed ordinance citywide?
And if the City Council did not believe that the proposed ordinance should only apply to the downtown, why did the Council vote to have that included on the legislative agenda?
The ordinance itself is not lengthy, but the IPMC is and is extremely comprehensive. To understand the effect the ordinance will have, it is necessary to at least take a look at the IPMC which are the standards that the City Council is planning to enforce citywide.