On split votes Antioch Council re-approves revised tobacco ordinance, rental registry with future tax on landlords

The Antioch City Council meeting lasted until almost midnight Tuesday, June 13, 2023. Video screenshot.

By Allen D. Payton

During their Tuesday, June 13, 2023, meeting, the Antioch City Council re-approved the revised tobacco product sales ordinance on a 3-2 vote and a rental registry with a future tax on landlords to pay for it on a 4-1 vote. With 12 items on the agenda and 19 items on the Consent Calendar, the meeting lasted until almost midnight violating the direction the council majority said they wanted to go at last Tuesday’s special meeting during discussion of the agenda items.

Re-Approve Revised Tobacco Products Sales Ordinance

On an expected 3-2 vote, with Mayor Lamar Thorpe and District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson voting against, the council majority re-approved the revision to the tobacco products sales ordinance which contains the following:

1. The terminology and definitions of flavored tobacco were amended to better align with State terms and definitions.

2. The prohibition on package size and price was eliminated. The prior language restricted the sale of small cigars (cigarillos) to minimum packs of 20, large cigars to minimum packs of 10, and required a minimum sales price for cigarettes of $10.

During the second reading of the ordinance, Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker and Thorpe were absent. Instead of postponing the item, the remaining three council members voted 2-1 with Wilson voting no, as she had done during the vote on the first reading, requiring the item be brought back for a first vote, again. Although it was approved, the item must be brought back for a vote on the second reading at the next council meeting.

Approves Rental Registry with Future Tax on Landlords

The council also approved on another split vote the creation of a Rental Registry with a future Rent Program fee, or tax on landlords to pay for it.

According to the city staff report, the Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) currently requires the establishment of a registry of regulated units. This ordinance will have a marginal fiscal impact in expanding application of the registry program, which would be funded through a Rent Program fee if adopted at a future date.

Staff determined that it would be prudent to require registration of all residential rental units in the City rather than only apartment complexes. If the City Council adopts additional tenant protections, such as just cause eviction, those protections would likely apply to a wider scope of rental units. Registration of such additional units would aid in the administration of the additional protection policies. A Citywide program would also allow the registration component to be a requirement for a complete application rather than an opt-in system.

The Proposed Ordinance would authorize a consolidated Citywide registration program to clarify and establish the authority of the Finance Department to administer the Rental Unit Registry and collect tenant program fees. It would also authorize the Rent Program and Finance Department to utilize an alternative means of registering rental units on properties containing five or more units.”

One of the speakers said she wants the system to also track evictions.

District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock moved approval and Torres-Walker seconded the motion.

Barbanica asked, “what information on this registry do you plan to include and

“The business license fee registers the owner at the property,” said Assistant City Attorney Rachel Hundley. “You get to know the units but you don’t get to know the details….more specific information such as the deeds…inspection violations.”

“So, you’re looking to really pry into those property owners’ personal business?” he asked.

“No,” she responded.

The motion then passed 4-1 with Barbanica, who is a real estate broker and property manager, voting against.

the attachments to this post:

ACC meeting 061323

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