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Anti-Rent Control Group Charts New Program

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Citizens for Good Housing, a group organized to oppose the rent control proposition ín the recent local election, will not disband now that the proposal has been defeated, acting chairman James Brien said in an interview. Efforts are being made to move in a number of positive directions now, Brien said of the group which includes a number of property management firms. The efforts include an offer to act as an adviser to the city's Housing Commission, working with the city Planning Department on zoning changes in the central city, self policing of property management firms locally, and a market survey to determine what the "real abuses" in the local market are, according to Brien, who works at Swisher Realty Co. " Other suggestions are being solicited by Citizens For Good Housing from persons who let their ñames be used in an advertisement against rent control proposal: Mayor James Stephenson; Eunice Burns of the city Planning Commission; Dr. Paul McCracken, a professor at the U-M School of Business Administration and former chairman of the President's Council of Economie Advisers; Jack Wheatley, business agent for Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 190 and leading spokesman for the building trades unions in Washtenaw County; and Guy Larcom, executive director of Ann Arbor Tomorrow, a group of citizens interested in the revitalization of the central business district. A letter was sent this week to the director of the city's Housing Commission offering to act in an advisory capacity for public housing in Ann Arbor, Brien said. "The mayor welcomed the idea when I ap? proached him," Brien said. Brien said the organization was dffering its expertise in housing. To a certain extent there are differences but many aspects are the same: i maintenance and tenant lems, he said. Citizens For Good Housing hopes it can work with the City Planning Department in an effort to get zoning changes in the central city so it can be made feasible to build apartments, Brien said. The problem of high rents can only be turned around if there is more building in the central city, according to Brien. "It,is strange that there is not more building if the landlords are making the fantastic profits claimed by some persons in the community . " "I can't think of any form of rent control that would help the tenants, at least any form 1 1 know of. You can't control any one small sector of the economy." Brien said he did not know whether the vote here against rent control was, a vote against it in any form or jüst the form in which it was presented in the last election, a complete proposed amendment to the City Charter. On the subject of self polic. ing of landlords Brien said he did not know how it would be done. There would be a body to which tenants could go with complaints, probably something like a Better Business Bureau. "Peer pressure is a very strong form of control. I know bad landlords, two or three companies. They would have to be dealt with," Brien said. He did not name the companies. In Ann Arbor such and organization could be strong with the backing of the city and the University, according to Brien. There could be an approved rental list for which landlords would have to meet certain criteria, he said. And' the accreditation could be taken away, he said. Brien said the University mediation service was on a I small scale and did not have I much clout. He also said the I courts have failed because it I takes too long to get a 1 lem aired. People should be I able to get a hearing within a I week to 10 days, Brien said. Brien said Citizens For I Good Housing would probably I set up a separate grievance board, which would include representatives from the University, departments in City Hall, tenants and such organizations as the Legal Aid office. He said representatives from political parties would not be Included because Citizens For Good Housing wanted to be nonpolitical. Brien said the real key to the situation in Ann Arbor is generally to set up better Communications between landlords and between landlords and tenants. There has been an adversary relationship between landlords and tenants. "We want tö set up machinery to get the little problems settled before going toco,urt." Brien said the orgánizatioh would not just be a front for landlords. "We want to legislate ourselves before somebody else legislates us." He said ' the organiza tion wanted to avoid a bureaucrasy. "This! ' was one of the horrible things about the rent control bilí j ; posed for Ann Arbor." Brien j ïsaid Citizens For Good Hous-I ing wanted to get to the j jlems early and simplify the j , process as much as possible. i Brien said he is acting [,chairman until the formation -of a board of directors. There will also be an appointment of a part-time executive director, according to Brien. He said he hoped the machinery would be working within 90 days. The money to finance the organization would come I from apartment owners, but Brien said he had no idea how much it would cost. Brien hoped the study wöuld be done within 30 days and the board of directors formed in about the same amount of time. "It is ridiculous to wail a year to get the first recommendations. I believe in getting things done quickly." There is such a diversity of landlords in Ann Arbor that it is hard to get people to pull together, Brien said. He estimated that there was 2,200 landlords. "One of the biggest problems for landlords in Ann Arbor is a lack of direction. We want to get together to do something positive." For eight years there has been a property management committee which has been part of the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors. Brien said it is difficult to get many of the 2, 200 landlords to become raembers of the board. He said Citizens For Good Housing wanted a more streamlined organization. The nucleus of Citizens Fór 1 Good Housing, according to Brien, was eight people: Albert Samborn of Kurkjian Realty; Ronald Williams, exI ecutive director of the. Ann Arbor Board of Realtors; Randolph White of Wilson White Management Co.; David Taylor of Ann Arbor Trust co.; Elaine Price and Ronald Wiser of McKinley Associates; and John Swisher III of Swisher Realty, as well as Brien. There were approxïmately 100 persons involved I in the pre-election campaign, according to Brien.


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