Aldermen Push For What?

This is just insane:

On Sunday, Aldermen Deborah Graham (29th), Robert Fioretti (2nd), and Toni Foulkes (15th) joined members of the Chicago Teachers Union, Action Now, and a group of parents and community safety advocates for a press conference urging Mayor Rahm Emanuel to make the Vacant Property Safe Passages Ordinance a priority.

If approved, the ordinance […] would require daylight watchmen to guard schoolchildren as they pass by vacant properties near public schools.

“Recently, the mayor said he cares so much about student safety on the way to school that he’s installing speed cameras,” said Aileen Kelleher, Action Now communications director, during a phone interview Tuesday. “We’re saying if you care so much about safety this ordinance should be your number one priority.”  …

This most recent push for the Vacant Property Safe Passages Ordinance comes just three months after the city passed a law requiring vacant property owners, whether an individual or a bank, to pay to register and maintain their abandoned buildings.  Similarly, last week Gov. Pat Quinn introduced a new program aimed at rehabilitating foreclosed homes in Cook County.

With November’s ordinance in mind, those in support of the Safe Passages law say vacant property owners should also foot the bill for hiring the proposed watchmen.

“We want the guards to be hired from within the communities where the vacant buildings are so that it’s also a job-creation program, because along with the housing crisis there’s also an employment crisis,” said Kelleher.

Additionally, the ordinance would levy fines of up to $500 if the building’s mortgage holder fails to provide a watchman between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

via Progress Illinois.

This can never pass.  Nothing good can come of it.

According to Illinois Statute — namely 225 ILCS 447 the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, Fingerprint Vendor, and Locksmith Act of 2004 — every one of these “watchmen” would be required to have a PERC.  The statute provides that:

 “Private security contractor” means a person who engages in the business of providing a private security officer, watchman, patrol, guard dog, canine odor detection, or a similar service by any other title or name on a contractual basis for another person, firm, corporation, or other entity for a fee or other consideration and performing one or more of the following functions:   …

See 225 ILCS 447.

This means that anyone who’s going to watch these houses must take and pass a 20-hour course with test.  They must also not have been convicted of a felony and submit their fingerprints for a background check.  Despite the requirements, it’s not uncommon to see these jobs listed on Craigslist for $10-12/hour.

The proposed ordinance would require watchmen (or watchwomen I would assume) to be present between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. or 8 hours per day.  That’s $80 per day in pay for someone to basically sit on their duff and read the paper in front of a vacant building.  Of course the real cost (vacation, medical, workemen’s comp, payroll taxes, overhead, training, etc) would mean that the property owner would likely be charged more like $120/day.

Even at $100/day, that’s $3,000/month… just to have someone watch a vacant property.  Who can afford to pay that?  The property owner will essentially be left with two options:  tear the place down or rent it out for someone well below market value.

Given that one can get a building (single family house on a single lot) torn down and hauled away for $10,000-20,000 (depending on the size and condition of the place,) it stands to reason that anyone who expects their place to be vacant for a long time to just may be better off just tearing the place down.  The property owner can also now save on taxes (vacant land is hardly taxed) and insurance as well.  This will minimize the property expense over the long-haul.

Equally problematic is that the ordinance may force the property owner to place anyone as a tenant in the property regardless of rent.  If you’re going to charge me $3,000/mo to keep the place empty and secured then it’s just better for me to find someone, anyone, who’s willing to stay in the place for $10/mo.  The question is then who’s renting the place for $10/mo?  Maybe someone who shouldn’t be living next to a school in the first place?

And there’s the rub.  What makes these people think that a tenant on the property would be better than having the property vacant?  Would you rather have your child walk by a vacant property or Jeffery Dahmer’s place?

Of course if the city was at full police strength wouldn’t there be more cops on the street looking over these places?  I’m just say’n.

The article states there are 19,000 vacant properties in the city.  At $3,000 per month that’s $57,000,000 in new costs that would have to picked-up by property owners each month.

That’s $57,000,000 in monthly transfer payments from “property owners” to  “guards to be hired from within the communities where the vacant buildings” exist.  Annually that a $684 million tax on property owners in the city.

It’s a complete joke.  Just like paying mommies to walk their children to school when they should be doing it anyway.