St. Louis Park suspends enforcement of controversial crime-free, drug-free ordinance

December 18, 2018 12:00 AM

City council members in St. Louis Park have voted to temporarily stop enforcing part of a controversial city ordinance that forced landlords to evict tenants from their homes.

In a unanimous vote Monday night, the council passed a resolution that will keep police from issuing notices to landlords when a tenant has violated the crime-free, drug-free provision of the city's rental housing ordinance.

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RELATED: Evicted before convicted: St. Louis Park police order landlords to force people from their homes

The moratorium will allow the city to review the ordinance and to consult with community stakeholders on what changes they think should be made, according to the resolution.
 
The decision comes after a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS investigation found under the ordinance, police were ordering landlords to force people from their homes, even though they were never convicted, charged or, in several cases, accused of a crime.
 
City records show this impacted more than 150 people over the last five years.

During a nearly hour-long discussion, council members raised concerns about the "unintended consequences" of the ordinance and the fact that tenants do not have any ability to appeal the notice of lease termination.

"I just think that it's time for us to take a step back, take another look at the ordinance and reenact something different," said council member Tim Brausen.

Council members and Mayor Jake Spano introduced a series of amendments to the original resolution that ultimately failed to pass. One of the most hotly debated was a proposal that would suspend any police enforcement of the ordinance, including warning notifications of disorderly use violations.

Anne Mavity brought the amendment to the table, saying that police should not play a part in a lease agreement. Mavity was the first council member to call for a moratorium of the policy earlier this month during a work session.

"I think we all want a safe community, but I want to do it in a way that insures due process and that everyone is appropriately in their lanes," Mavity said. "I just don't think it's appropriate for our police department or any police department to be involved in a tenant, landlord relationship."

The city will form a task force to study the ordinance and its affects. The group will be made up of tenants and landlords in the city, as well as housing advocates and individuals from social service organizations.

But council members warned it could be months before the task force provides any information or recommendations on how to move forward.

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