Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Policy Issues Behind The Curtains Of Despair...

Photo and blog post by John Hoff

Some days ago, I wrote a blog post about "the curtains of despair" at one of Bashir Moghul's properties, 2131 Lyndale Ave. N., an enormous stucco house which holds so much potential but, well, not as long as it's owned by Moghul or any of his slummy kin. On the bright side, it's for sale. Hint hint.

So after a bit of a discussion in the comment threads about whether there's actually a rule to prohibit make-do "curtains of despair" at Minneapolis rental properties, I called up 311 (from the parking lot of Costco, actually, trying to pack in some 311 action while out and about, multi-tasking) and the operator basically said what I thought he'd say, even though I did my honest level best to lodge the complaint and make it stick.

I was told...

...the "window treatments" referenced by the rule in question is a matter of style and taste and whatever gets used is fine, as long as SOMETHING gets used. So I guess this means towels, sheets, newspaper, Venetian blinds that look as though they've been chewed by a pit bull...oh, geez, what do I mean look as though...or whatever.

I couldn't even get a 311 reference number.

This issue is analogous to the "Keith Reitman rule" which was proposed because of slumlords using stuff like Sharpie marker to write addresses on buildings. I'm sure other cities have a rule about curtains needing to be made from, gee, curtains and not towels stolen from Days Inn.

Not that I'm judging, mind you. Lord knows my surname starts with the same letter as "Hilton" and anything people can do to make sure Paris Hilton has less money to party with is pretty much a public service.

In any case, Minneapolis needs a rule like that. And, unfortunately, according to the 311 operator I talked to, we don't have a rule like that.

Maybe a different operator on a different day might give a different answer. But I doubt it.

(Do Not Click "Read More")


Anonymous said...

The Minneapolis City Council will consider testimony from the public regarding proposed changes to the city’s rental license ordinance.
Date/Time 2/14/11 1:30 PM
Location Council Chambers, Room 317 City Hall

Slumlords have had a devastating effect on NoMi.

Here is a perfect forum for public concerns about lenient slumlord practices. I would hope that all community leaders and bloggers work together to rally public support for additional non-homestead oversight.

NoMi Passenger said...

@Anon 9:08,

Here's the agenda item regarding what you reference:
The Minneapolis City Council will consider testimony from the public regarding proposed changes to the city's rental license ordinance. See item "b" below:

Date/Time 2/14/11 1:30 PM
Location Council Chambers, Room 317 City Hall
Event Description Public Hearing
Regular meeting of the Minneapolis City Council Regulatory, Energy and Environment standing committee.

b. Rental Licensing: Ordinance creating a furnace and boiler safety check and energy audit requirement for certain rental properties and repealing sections 244.680 and 244.685; and adding a requirement for a lead clearance inspection for certain rental properties and amending requirements related to lead safe work practices.

Personally I don't have any faith that more stringency on boiler inspections, lead inspections and energy audits will do anything towards reducing the impact of non-homesteaded property owners who rent to accused rapists, gang bangers, pit bull fighters, dangerous house party throwers, or slumlords who allow towels to be hung as curtains or raw sewage to seep up from the basement drain.

But it's a democracy, and folks should weigh in with their feedback as the city council staff is indeed requesting.

Peter T said...

"I'm sure other cities have a rule about curtains needing to be made from, gee, curtains and not towels stolen from Days Inn." - I wonder if any city has such a rule. What is going on inside the window should be the renter's decision and not the city's, as long as it is no crime, and not the landlord's, as long as it is no crime or destruction of the apartment. For example, landlords have repeatedly tried to limit their tenants' political speech: renters' yard signs they were able to prohibit, but not signs inside the windows. I have also seen homeowners using blankets or tarps to limit the view through (large) windows - would do you want an city ordinance against that, too, and do you think the city would even enforce it against homeowners if it existed? Last, but not least: why do you assume that renters would steal something to make it into less beautiful window shades? - A renter

Johnny Northside! said...

I, too, wonder if other cities have ordinances. If anybody has information, feel free to post it.

In regard to "stealing" towels from hotels, which (as I've already stated) I find completely forgivable as long as it's a Hilton, I don't assume anything about who steals towels. I am merely describing the odd assortment of crap which seems to get pressed into service as curtains.

And I'll go so far as to say this: it wouldn't even be so bad if non-curtain material were used, as long as it covered the window in a complete manner, attractively or at least not ugly, as long as it didn't look like a half-assed piece of crap hanging off thumbtacks.

And the rule can be applied to homeowners as well, as far as I'm concerned, you just don't seem to see the same problems with most homeowners in North Minneapolis. MOST.

Anonymous said...

Why would it be ok to steal towels from any hotel even if it is a Hilton? Isn't thou shall not steal on of the ten commandments?

Anonymous said...

Just so I understand your reply, you are saying it is OK to steal towels from a large expensive type of hotel, as opposed to say a "Super8" motel.

Johnny Northside! said...

No, absolutely not.

I said it's justifiable to liberate towels from Hiltons because of Paris Hilton and her negative impact on our civilization, and anything that takes money away from Paris Hilton's partying is all for the good.

My point of view is specific to Hiltons.

Anonymous said...

John stealing is stealing, if you take it from the rich it still is not ok.

Johnny Northside said...

Stealing is stealing, but "liberating" is a political act of taking resources, the taking of which can be morally and/or politically justified but perhaps not legally justified, though it may be a case of it being "diminimus," that is to say, technically illegal but the prosecutor doesn't find it worth bothering about.

Should you find yourself in court over such a thing, perhaps you can do what Jill Clark does and argue "equity," only be sure you argue SUCCESSFULLY.

Taking towels from the Hilton Hotel chain in a subversive act to protest the very public moral and material excesses of one Paris Hilton...

A perfect example of "liberating" not "stealing."