City Hall is teeming with issues these days, but nothing has galvanized public opinion more than the question of whether the city should put all single-family rental homes into its its rental inspection program.
Such a move could save Joliet neighborhoods or make rental housing unaffordable, according to opposing viewpoints expressed at two meetings of the Joliet City Council this week.
On Tuesday, twenty-eight people spoke to the council for about an hour and a half on the matter.
Landlords and neighborhood groups in general have lined up on opposite sides of the question, although there have been crossovers.
Many landlords and Realtors spoke against inspections.
City staff has cast doubt on its ability to conduct inspections of 5,100 additional buildings and ex-staff has cast doubt on the need for it.
Still, it's a big issue in the neighborhoods, said Quinn Adamowski, former president of the Cathedral Area Preservation Association.
"It doesn't matter which organization it is," Adamowski told the council. "It's an issue that always comes up."
CAPA has been accused of being the only organization pushing the issue. It seems to be the leading neighborhood group backing it but not the only one.
The City Council before the vote Tuesday received a letter in favor of single-family rental inspections from neighborhood groups across the city. Representatives from the Reedwood and Cunningham neighborhood groups were among those making statements to the council in favor of it.
Some landlords and Realtors questioned whether the inspection program was aimed at keeping certain kinds of people out of neighborhoods.
"The West Side of Joliet, let's be honest, does not want to be a rental community," said Erica Holmes, who in addition to being a landlord is co-president of the East Side Neighborhood Council.
Holmes said some West Side neighborhoods are "experiencing things that we've already experienced most of our lives."
One landlord speaking for the inspections was John Dillon, a former foreman in the city's Public Works Department and now chairman of the city Plan Commission.
Dillon called the staff estimate that it will cost $500,000 to implement inspections of single-family rentals BS, except he used the full word.
The council did what has been done for years on the question of single-family rental inspections.
It was tabled.
This time, however, it was tabled until Oct. 20, which means it will be dealt with again in the near future.
In the meantime, staff will review how other communities conduct single-family rentals and report back on whether it is doable in Joliet at a price the city can afford.