Holding discussions sensible place to start

The Fairmont City Council did not seem to get there very easily on Monday evening, but in the end the group did decide it should not jump into major changes to the city’s rental ordinance. Good for them.

A group of rental property owners turned out for the council meeting and offered their insights. This was compelling testimony about how the system now works, or doesn’t, and provided a good baseline for further discussions.

Council members expressed valid concerns about what they are seeing in certain neighborhoods and what can be done about it. City staff provided perspective on how they go about working with landlords or renters to gain compliance in problem areas.

There was an excellent reminder that all of this was done before, and not that long ago. In 2014, a similar process created the existing rental ordinance. Several wise comments focused on enforcing what exists now rather than creating new regulations that could burden landlords, shut out tenants, and create more work for city staff and law enforcement.

The council’s final word on the matter was to agree to hold meetings with city staff, police and landlords to work toward a sensible consensus. Perhaps just creating more awareness of the perceived problems will go a long way. Light is always better than heat when it comes to shaping public policy. Let’s hope that choice continues.