Today the arsenic ordinance I authored unanimously passed the Health, Energy and Environment (HEE) committee.
Thanks to the good work of Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota (EJAM), especially Paula Maccabee and Representative Karen Clark, the City is stepping in and doing what needs to be done to protect renters' right to know that the soil at their unit is contaminated.
The ordinance will now go to the full Council for final passage. I think its chances of passage are very good.
Then landlords within the South Minneapolis Contamination Site will get notice that they must inform their tenants. Then the work begins - EJAM, the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, the Women's Environmental Institute and other outside organizations have agreed to help let renters know their rights. My office will be organizing the impacted Second Ward neighborhoods (Seward, Longfellow and Cedar Riverside) to make sure residents know their rights.
Here's what Paula recently wrote about ths accomplishment:
Thank you to everyone who helped achieve an important step forward in enactment of arsenic and toxic contamination right-to-know ordinances in the City of Minneapolis.
As you recall, Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota (EJAM) and Women's Environmental Institute have been working in collaboration with residents, Minneapolis City staff, Council Member Cam Gordon, Council Member Gary Schiff and the MPIRG Environmental Justice Task Force to enact Minneapolis right-to-know ordinances to protect citizens.
The first ordinance is targeted at the arsenic contamination in South Minneapolis and requires landlords to give notice when property is tested by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. Provisions of federal law to date have prevented the U.S. EPA from informing many tenants of their risk of arsenic exposure.
The second ordinance applies to any environmental contaminant in the City for which the government requires testing on the property and requires that a right to know of this testing be included in the Minneapolis Truth-in-Sale-of-Housing disclosure.
Everyone's help and participation were important yesterday. Regulatory Services staff Tom
Frame and council aide Robin Garwood helped address landlord and the potential for a sunset when all cleanup is done without undermining the ordinance. Testimony from Karen Clark on behalf of WEI and from Rus Lyons an MPIRG Environmental Justice Task Force organizer, in addition to our EJAM testimony, was helpful in keeping the focus on passing the ordinance when other Council Members raised questions and concerns.
We greatly appreciate Council Member Gordon's strong and precise advocacy and Chair Benson's willingness to take a position in his committee, rather than referring the issue and allowing delay.
At the end of the day, the committee's recommendation for passage of the ordinance was unanimous! The committee also directed City staff to begin a process to study whether there should be a broader right-to-know policy or law in Minneapolis. This is all good.
Please feel free to call me if you have any questions. If City staff could please also let us know when the full Council will consider the ordinances, that would be great. Feel free to forward this email if you know other folks who would appreciate an update.
Paula Maccabee, Esq.
Just Change Consulting