Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here: http://secondward.blogspot.com/2006/05/disclaimer.html#links

Monday, February 14, 2011

Green and Healthy Housing

Today, the Council’s Regulatory, Energy and Environment committee received a report from staff on an ordinance change that would dramatically improve our ordinances in terms of making rental property safer, healthier, more economical and more environmentally sustainable.


If adopted, these changes would require that landlords protect their tenants in the following ways:



  • All landlords would be required to do a furnace/boiler safety test by a licensed mechanical or gas contractor every two years, unless the furnace or boiler is under 10 years old.

  • All owners of single family rentals would be required to get an energy audit with a blower test and thermal scan by a certified auditor. If property fails the initial blower door standard, air sealing must occur resulting in at least a 20% improvement on the initial blower door test or attic bypasses and major air leaks discovered by the thermal scan must be sealed. It should be noted that energy audits are heavily subsidized by Centerpoint and Xcel.

  • All owners of 1-3 unit rental properties built before 1978 where the City has found chipping or peeling paint would be required to get a lead safe clearance test by a third party lead certified technician. All of these changes are within the City’s appropriate role of protecting tenants, and all will increase the livability, safety and health of our housing stock. As an added benefit, they will also reduce utility costs for renters – which renters often pay but can seldom control – and represent one of the City’s only ways to get serious about the problem of climate change.

I strongly support these amendments. In fact, I think they should have gone significantly further: staff made multiple changes to appease rental property owners, including dropping a proposed radon test, scaling back the lead testing and limiting the energy audits to single family homes only. By making these changes, they successfully kept the Minnesota Multi-Housing Association neutral, rather than having its members oppose the amendments.


Unfortunately, some of my colleagues have signaled that they will not support even these weakened amendments. I look forward to trying to change their minds. After all, we talk a lot about climate change, and making Minneapolis a leader on sustainability. It's time to translate all of that talk into action.


One last thing: these amendments represent a somewhat rare opportunity to support Council President Johnson on a controversial issue. I thank her for her leadership in bringing this issue forward.


The committee will hear this item again on February 28th, and I look forward to supporting it in the strongest form possible.

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