Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Legal Challenge to Controversial St. Louis County Rental Housing Bill Ordinance Imminent

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Legal Challenge to Controversial St. Louis County Rental Housing Bill Ordinance Imminent

Article excerpt

CLAYTON * Disillusioned opponents of a divisive measure to impose a license on the owners of rental housing units in unincorporated St. Louis County are exploring legal options after a narrow County Council vote Tuesday night to put the ordinance into effect by year's end.

"We've been looking at it closely, and we have some concerns," said Diane Balogh, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Chapter of the ACLU.

County Executive Steve Stenger said Wednesday that he would sign the bill.

Barring an injunction to block its implementation, the ordinance will require landlords to start obtaining rental property licenses on Dec. 31.

"We are ready to defend (the ordinance)," Stenger, a Democrat, said. "And I think it will survive a legal challenge."

Mark Harder, a Republican and one of the three council members opposed to the bill, said he was "disheartened" that four fellow lawmakers ignored impassioned pleas to redraft the legislation.

"Now the people of St. Louis County will have to defend this bill in court, and that's going to cost the county a lot of money," said Harder, of west St. Louis County.

Jerry Hopping, a north St Louis County landlord and leader of an unaffiliated group of rental property owners who mounted a campaign to stop the bill, expressed outrage at the outcome.

"The council's actions are a blatant and perfect reason why Americans are fed up with politicians and have lost confidence in the government for not listening to the people they represent," Hopping said.

The bill that squeaked through Tuesday night was the fifth version of the legislation to come before the council since March 2014.

Democratic Councilman Michael O'Mara, the sponsor, said the intent of the measure was to crack down on irresponsible landlords, particularly in Glasgow Village, a North County subdivision with an abundance of unkempt homes and property. …

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