East Side Residential Neighborhood Group

East Siders question self-inspections by landlords

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   East Side residents are worried that the city’s rental registry will bear similarities to the fox and the henhouse. Many homeowners on the campus side of the city have long wanted some type of inspection or registration program for rental housing. But the type of program being considered falls short of what East Siders had wanted. The rental registry proposed in the city’s new Community Action Plan calls for self-inspections by landlords. While that’s a good start, it doesn’t go far enough, the residents agreed during a meeting of their neighborhood association. “I don’t let my students grade themselves,” said Neocles Leontis, comparing the self-inspections to self-grading. An East Side resident questioned why self-inspections would be allowed. “Is it because the landlords have money and we don’t,” she asked. Leontis said that parents of college students often assume that rental units undergo fire inspections in Bowling Green. “They are absolutely shocked to learn the places they rent haven’t gone through fire inspections,” he said. “It’s not only about students. It’s about young families,” Leontis said. “Let’s do something before we have a tragedy in town.” If landlords are allowed to do their own inspections, it was suggested that at least a check-off box be included where landlords can identify if a rental unit has undergone a fire inspection. City Council member and East Side resident John Zanfardino agreed. “The registration is only going to be as good as the information on it,” he said. Zanfardino, plus council members Sandy Rowland and Bill Herald agreed the rental registration program may be the best the city can get. “I don’t see BG moving to inspections,” Zanfardino said. Renter satisfaction surveys are also being planned, Zanfardino said. While BGSU offers renter reviews, much of that focuses on apartment complexes, while this will focus on houses. The questions will focus on rental houses having inadequate heat and air conditioning, structural problems, and other issues. Due to a fear of retribution by landlords, specific addresses will not be published. In other business at the East Side meeting, Zanfardino reported on other priorities selected by council members in the Community Action Plan. Included are zoning changes along East Wooster Street, creation of micro-grants for neighborhoods, and formation of a historic preservation program. Elizabeth Burroughs, who tracks police blotter data on East Side issues reported on the latest numbers for items such as nuisance parties, noise and litter. Burroughs said the number of nuisance parties and noise complaints have dropped in the last few months. Litter, such as Taco Bell sauce packets and pizza boxes, are still a problem. Police Chief Tony Hetrick reported that police officers have not changed their practices. “We haven’t done anything different.” However, Hetrick said the police division is noticing some different trends. In the past, the busiest times for police were Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The busy times are now just Friday and Saturday, he said. “We’re still seeing a lot of house parties, but they’re not getting out of line,” the chief said. Police still visit homes where yards are cluttered with party trash. The residents are given 30 minutes to clean up. Hetrick said he is also continuing to call landlords about repeat problems. “He calls landlords on Monday morning, and…


East Side organization honored for neighborly efforts

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The group honored Monday evening for promoting diversity in Bowling Green was compared to picadors – who stab the 2,000-pound bull in the neck to weaken him before the bullfighter goes in the ring. “We pick, we prod, we poke,” said Rose Hess, head of the East Side Residential Neighborhood Group. The organization was given the Honor Roll Award from the Bowling Green Human Relations Commission. Commission chairperson Rev. Mary Jane Saunders explained how the East Side group got its start and how it has grown. On a summer night back in 2007, a group of eight neighbors gathered to discuss issues involving rental properties and owner-occupied housing on the east side of Bowling Green. A decade later, the group has grown to more than 100 members gathering under the name of the East Side Residential Neighborhood Group, Saunders said. The group’s mission statement states the commitment to: Enhancing residential neighborhoods. Encouraging property maintenance in the pursuit of safe housing for all. Promoting beautification of properties and a strong and diverse community. The comparison to picadors seemed fitting when Mayor Dick Edwards praised the group’s efforts, especially those of Hess. “You’re not afraid to do some of the heavy lifting. You’re not afraid to get your hands dirty, or get in the faces of people like me,” Edwards said to Hess. Hess admitted to poking and prodding. “We do get in people’s faces,” she said. “We know that not everybody loves us.” Hess said the East Siders never intended to be a neighborhood association. But the group has found its niche in welcoming students to the neighborhood by visiting about 500 houses every August. The members deliver food baskets to new homeowners. They defend their neighborhood by meeting with landlords, the police chief and the BGSU student affairs leaders. The group’s presence in a university town has been important, since market forces are not always favorable or helpful to student renters, to families, to non-student renters, and others. In the past decade, the East Side group has developed goals which include: To foster good relationships between permanent residents and non-permanent residents. To encourage property maintenance by all home owners. To encourage closer supervision by landlords of their property. To work closely with the city on over-occupancy and nuisance issues. To continue [a] strong liaison with the Office of the Dean of Students at BGSU. The East Side’s pro-active and welcoming gestures towards BGSU students provide information on rights and responsibilities, Saunders said. Educational outreach in 2017 took the form of participation in the Court Street Connects Festival, presentations to community groups, hand-distributed flyers in neighborhoods, and involvement in the development of the Community Action Plan. Members monitor the exterior of properties for compliance with city code, and they’ve been able to make procedural changes, get repairs done, and encourage cooperative behavior among residents. A key aspect of the East Side group’s work on rental properties is intervention on poorly maintained properties where safety has become an issue, Saunders said. In keeping with the goals of the Human Relations Commission, the East Side Residential Neighborhood Group advocates for safe housing for all people in the community. “We are pleased to recognize this dedicated group by presenting them with this Honor Roll award,” Saunders…