Op-Ed from Stanley Diaz — President, Columbia Apartment Association
STUDENTS and GAYS UNFAIRLY TARGETED BY CITY
Students are the main target of the new Over-Occupancy Disclosure Ordinance. In January of this year, the Columbia City Council voted, in effect, to remove your right to privacy as granted by the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution. It also discriminates against gay couples. The ordinance says no more than three unrelated adults can live in an R1 residence but what constitutes a related family? Are two gay couples two “families” or are they four unrelated adults?
In 2012, there were only 14 cases of over-occupancy being prosecuted by the City. According to the homeowner associations who spoke in favor of this ordinance, the problem is almost always with students. Over-occupancy has been against the law in Columbia for many years, but because of this handful of complaints, the City made it a law (Columbia, Missouri City Code Section 22.184(c)) in January 2013 that all 25,000 rental unit occupants must sign a disclosure document that allows any “police officer or city inspector investigating any code violation” to see “all lease, rental payment, tenant information”.
“Tenant information” means your social security number, birth date, and more. Note that the law says, “ANY code violation”, not just over-occupancy complaints!
I doubt that there is a single building in town that does not have one code violation.
For instance: a cracked switchplate cover, too many leaves in the gutter, a vine or tree too close to the building, missing smoke detector batteries, peeling paint, etc. are all code violations. Is it right that 25,000 rental units, or about 50,000 adults should be subjected to this kind of treatment because of a couple of dozen complaints?
The Columbia Apartment Association does not condone true over-occupancy violators. They should be investigated and prosecuted when necessary. But this disclosure ordinance is a violation of federal law, is insulting to all renters and discriminatory to Gays and Lesbian couples. Also note that only Renters are required to fill out the Disclosure form, not homeowners. Read the ordinance form yourself and see.
If you care about your rights or the rights of MU students in the years to come, then call the City of Columbia at 573-874-7222 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. tell them to rescind the Over Occupancy DISCLOSURE Ordinance.
This issue comes up for vote again on July 15th please contact the city before that date.
Stanley Diaz — President, Columbia Apartment Association