COLUMBIA, Mo (Series) 5/6/17
-- Columbia's Office of Sustainability and Energy and Environment Commission (EEC) are proposing a new rental energy efficiency ordinance
based on everything their activist members detest: non-transparency; false promises; conflicts of interest; and so much ethical gray area the law should be DOA -- dead on arrival.
The Columbia City Council received the groups' report in February, recommending new "energy efficiency" requirements
for single family and duplex rental properties.
The law is unfair: Apartments -- some notorious for wasting energy
-- are exempt.
So are commercial properties, owner-occupied homes, and other potential energy wasters.
It also violates the Constitution's 4th Amendment, mandating a warrantless "energy efficiency" inspection that costs an average $373.
The application for rental unit compliance -- required of all rental property owners -- would have to include an "Energy Score" of 7 or higher, or an "Efficiency Score" of 70% or higher.
To achieve this score, an energy efficiency auditor could demand "upgrades" to appliances, HVAC systems, insulation, windows, and any other systems that effect energy usage. The cost of such upgrades, especially with older properties, can be staggering
The proposed law was written non-transparently, without input from the people most impacted: property managers and renters. During a recent Council hearing
, Mayor Brian Treece
asked Council member Mike Trapp
if landlords were consulted before the two agencies made the recommendations.
“They were engaged in the process,” Trapp said. “I know the landlords participated. They did a forum and I know there was outreach to the landlord community.”
Mr. Trapp was wrong.
EEC meeting minutes show no tenants or landlords involved in the proposed law's year-long planning. The Office of Sustainability held one forum about it in late November 2016, but moderators including city sustainability director Barbara Buffaloe refused to discuss it!
Some characterized the forum as a "sham cheerleading effort". Others insisted City Hall's utilities (water, electric, trash, sewer) counteract conservation with rate increases that more than offset savings.
Though the new energy efficiency ordinance should be DOA, it still has a pulse. City administrators seem determined to squeeze property managers, especially small ones, perhaps in service to the hedge fund types they've bent over backward accomodating, now stuck in an overbuilt, reduced-student market. "An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.