The Omaha City Council made some changes to the city’s code enforcement, and some members promised to go further soon.
The changes, approved Tuesday, are part of a lawsuit settlement with the Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Association.
The changes don’t address concerns raised by a December fatal fire at a boarding house that had numerous code violations. Several city officials said they still intend to address those concerns, including possibly creating a registration for Omaha landlords.
The changes included in the landlords’ association settlement would create more specific timelines for property owners in violation of a building code to fix the problem. It would also create standard operating procedures for code inspectors to follow.
Jay Davis, an assistant Omaha planning director, asked the council to approve the changes.
“We need to have something we can move forward with,” he said.
Council members said they voted for the agreement because they trust Davis’ judgment.
“I believe the settlement will improve the current process,” said Council President Pete Festersen.
But some council members, particularly Chris Jerram, said they had concerns about the settlement.
Jerram said he is especially worried about a clause that says the city must consult the property owners’ group before changing any of the items covered under the settlement agreement. Jerram said he worries that will impede efforts to change building codes in the wake of the fatal fire.
“I think it’s bad public policy,” Jerram said.
Notwithstanding Jerram’s concerns, the council passed a pair of items related to the lawsuit. Jerram voted against both items, and Councilman Franklin Thompson joined him in voting against one.
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