The Omaha City Council has delayed voting on competing proposals for a new Omaha landlord registry and rental inspections plan after a council member became sick.
Councilman Brinker Harding, who represents west Omaha and was one of the authors of the ordinances, told The World-Herald on Tuesday that doctors told him to stay home after he spent much of the early morning ill.
About noon, he called colleagues and asked for at least a one-week delay. Council President Ben Gray and others said they would wait.
The council voted 6-0 Tuesday to delay the matter for one week to allow Harding to participate.
Harding said he had told someone just last week that he’d never missed a meeting. Then he woke up sick and spent part of Tuesday in a hospital emergency room.
“I’d much rather be there voting,” he said, laughing.
In the run-up to Tuesday’s meeting, factions on the council supported two proposals to amend a draft ordinance from Mayor Jean Stothert.
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One would require inspections of only those properties with open or known violations of city housing code. The other would require inspections of all rental properties at least once every four years.
The city began to discuss the issue after code inspectors in September found 2,000 code violations and filthy conditions at the Yale Park Apartments at 34th Avenue and Lake Street. About 500 refugees were evacuated.
Tuesday’s delay came as good news to a group of apartment owners and tenant advocates from Omaha Together One Community who had asked the council Tuesday morning for more time.
Lawyers for the Apartment Association of Greater Omaha and Omaha Together One Community have been in discussions since a four-hour public hearing on the possible registry ordinances March 12.
The groups are finding some common ground, but they need more access to city and county data to find solutions, said Gary Fischer, a lawyer for Family Housing Advisory Services Inc.
They have already agreed on some principles that were shared with council members this week. Among them: Older properties should have regular inspections, tenants and landlords should have education on their rights and landlords should agree not to retaliate against tenants who file code enforcement complaints.
“We have some time here to get it right,” Fischer said.