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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Supreme Court ruling on housing issues/ City of Morris -vs- Sax Investments

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STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN SUPREME COURT
A06-1188
Court of Appeals Gildea, J.
Dissenting, Anderson, Paul H., J.
Took no part, Dietzen, J.
City of Morris,
Respondent,
vs. Filed: May 15, 2008
Office of Appellate Courts
Sax Investments, Inc.,
Appellant.
S Y L L A B U S
1. When the express language of a state statute defines the scope of permissible municipal regulations, we determine the validity of municipal regulations on the same subject by applying the plain language of the statute.
2. Under Minn. Stat. § 16B.62, subd. 1 (2006), a municipal rental licensing ordinance regulating components or systems of a residential structure covered by the State Building Code is invalid where the municipal ordinance imposes different requirements than the State Building Code.
3. Inspection standards in a municipal rental licensing ordinance regulating ground fault interrupter receptacles, bathroom ventilation, and egress window covers are invalid under Minn. Stat. § 16B.62, subd. 1, because the inspection standards are building
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code provisions regulating components or systems of a residential structure and are different from provisions in the State Building Code.
4. The authority of municipalities to enact and enforce habitability standards for rental housing is constrained by the prohibition on municipal regulation of building code provisions in Minn. Stat. § 16B.62, subd. 1.
5. We will not consider issues arising out of allegedly dangerous conditions in a residential structure that were not previously raised or were not previously charged.
Reversed and remanded.
Heard, considered, and decided by the court en banc.
O P I N I O N
GILDEA, Justice.
In this case, we must determine whether the Minnesota State Building Code, Minn. Stat. §§ 16B.59-.75 (2006), permits the enforcement of four inspection standards contained in the Rental Licensing Ordinance of the City of Morris (Rental Licensing Ordinance), Morris, Minn., Rental Licensing Ordinance § 4.32 (2002). The district court concluded that the ordinance provisions regulate the business of rental housing, not the design or construction of buildings, and are therefore permitted under state law. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the ordinance provisions do not regulate “the act of building,” but instead impose “standards of habitability” on “the subsequent use of the building as a business.” City of Morris v. Sax Invs., Inc., 730 N.W.2d 551, 556 (Minn. App. 2007). We conclude that the ordinance provisions regulating ground fault interrupter receptacles, bathroom ventilation, and egress window covers are building code
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provisions that regulate a component or system of a residential structure and differ impermissibly from the State Building Code, and that these provisions are therefore prohibited by state law. But we conclude that the factual record is insufficient for us to determine whether the ordinance provision regulating smoke detectors in sleeping rooms is prohibited by state law. Accordingly, we reverse and remand to the district court.
The Rental Licensing Ordinance prohibits the use of residential property as rental property unless the property has been licensed by the City for such use. Morris, Minn., Rental Licensing Ordinance § 4.32, subd. 3. Before a license is issued, the property must be inspected and found to “fully comply with all the provisions of the applicable rules, standards, statutes and ordinances which pertain to such dwelling units.” Id., subd. 6. Among the provisions that the property must satisfy before licensure are extensive inspection standards contained in the ordinance. Id., subd. 21.
Appellant Michael Sax owns property in the City of Morris. On January 3, 2005, Sax registered the property as residential rental property. The record does not reveal whether the building on the property is a single-family or multi-family building. The parties agree, however, that no known improvements or alterations (other than replacement of shingles, siding, and exterior trim) have been made to the building since the State Building Code went into effect in 1972.
On January 18, 2005, an enforcement officer for the City of Morris inspected the property and identified eight violations of the inspection standards contained in the Rental Licensing Ordinance. The City ordered Sax to correct these violations. When the property was re-inspected two months later, four of the eight violations still had not been
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corrected: (1) ground fault interrupter receptacles were not installed on outlets within 6 feet of water sources in the kitchen, bathroom, and basement; (2) the bathroom did not contain either a window or a ventilation fan; (3) the egress windows in the basement lacked covers; and (4) the basement bedroom did not have a smoke detector. The City assessed a $50 fee due to the failed re-inspection.
After Sax refused to correct the remaining violations and pay the re-inspection fee, the City of Morris initiated the present action seeking temporary and permanent injunctions prohibiting Sax from leasing his property to residential tenants until the four remaining violations were corrected and the re-inspection fee was paid. In his answer to the City’s complaint, Sax asserted that the remaining violations were not subject to a correction order because the property complies with the requirements of the Minnesota State Building Code. Sax also filed a counterclaim seeking an order directing the City to issue a residential rental license for the property and an injunction prohibiting the enforcement of the ordinance provisions.
The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The district court ordered summary judgment in favor of the City on both the City’s claim for a temporary injunction and Sax’s counterclaims. The court concluded that the State Building Code does not prohibit local regulations that are “not directly tied to building design or construction,” even if the subject of the local regulation “is also addressed in the State Building Code.” Because it found that the ordinance provisions at issue in this case “are not structural, do not involve the ‘design or construction’ of the property, and do not involve complex ‘components or systems’ within [Sax’s] rental property,” the court
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concluded that the ordinance “regulates certain safety and health provisions that are part and parcel of the business of renting residential property in the City of Morris” and is therefore “a valid exercise of the City’s police powers.”
The court of appeals held that the State Building Code supersedes only local regulations pertaining “to construction, remodeling, alteration, or restoration, that is, to the act of building, and not to the subsequent use of the building as a business.” Sax Invs., 730 N.W.2d at 556. Accordingly, the court of appeals concluded that “[l]ocal authorities retain the right to regulate the business of rental housing by enacting standards of habitability.” Id. Without defining “standards of habitability,” and without analyzing whether the ordinance provisions at issue constitute “local building ordinances” or “standards of habitability,” the court of appeals affirmed the district court. Id. We granted Sax’s petition for further review.
On review of a “grant [of] summary judgment, we determine whether there are any genuine issues of material fact and whether the district court erred in its application of the law.” In re Estate of Kinney, 733 N.W.2d 118, 122 (Minn. 2007); see also Minn. R. Civ. P. 56.03. The application of statutes, administrative regulations, and local ordinances to undisputed facts is a legal conclusion and is reviewed de novo. See Lefto v. Hoggsbreath Enters., Inc., 581 N.W.2d 855, 856 (Minn. 1998); Wallin v. Letourneau, 534 N.W.2d 712, 715 (Minn. 1995); St. Otto’s Home v. Minn. Dep’t of Human Servs., 437 N.W.2d 35, 39 (Minn. 1989).
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I.
The questions presented in this case concern the scope of the Minnesota State Building Code. The State Building Code “governs the construction, reconstruction, alteration, and repair of buildings.” Minn. Stat. § 16B.59. The purpose of the code is to “provide basic and uniform performance standards, establish reasonable safeguards for health, safety, welfare, comfort, and security of the residents of this state and provide for the use of modern methods, devices, materials, and techniques which will in part tend to lower construction costs.” Id. To effectuate this legislative purpose, the statute instructs the Commissioner of Administration to establish by administrative rule “a code of standards for the construction, reconstruction, alteration, and repair of buildings, governing matters of structural materials, design and construction, fire protection, health, sanitation, and safety.” Minn. Stat. § 16B.61, subd. 1. Most of the substantive standards are addressed in these administrative rules, which encompass several separate chapters of Minnesota Rules. See Minn. R. 1300.0050 (2007) (listing the Minnesota State Building Code as including chapters 1300-70, 4715, and 7670-78).
Shortly after the State Building Code became effective in 1972, Act of May 26, 1971, ch. 561, § 4, 1971 Minn. Laws 1018, 1020, we considered the interaction between the State Building Code and municipal regulation in City of Minnetonka v. Mark Z. Jones Assocs., Inc., 306 Minn. 217, 218-19, 236 N.W.2d 163, 165 (1975). In that case, a municipality sought to enforce a fire prevention ordinance that required the developer of an apartment complex to install an emergency lighting system in hallways and exits, and
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a sprinkler system in the basement garage. Id. at 218, 236 N.W.2d at 164-65. Although we recognized that municipalities were “undoubtedly” authorized to adopt some fire prevention ordinances, we held that the State Building Code preempts local ordinances that “affect[] the construction and design of buildings.” Id. at 219-20, 236 N.W.2d at 165. In holding that the Minnetonka fire prevention ordinance provisions were preempted by state law, we concluded that “we are influenced, if not governed, by the fact that the State Building Code itself deals extensively with fire prevention and fire-related safety measures.” Id. at 222, 236 N.W.2d at 167.
Since our decision in Mark Z. Jones, the legislature has added language to the State Building Code that specifically addresses municipal regulation of residential structures. Act of May 29, 2001, ch. 207, § 3, 2001 Minn. Laws 849, 850 (codified at Minn. Stat. § 16B.62, subd. 1). The specific issue here is whether the State Building Code, as currently written, leaves room for the enforcement of four inspection standards contained in the Rental Licensing Ordinance.
Generally, “municipalities have no inherent powers and possess only such powers as are expressly conferred by statute or implied as necessary in aid of those powers which have been expressly conferred.” Mangold Midwest Co. v. Village of Richfield, 274 Minn. 347, 357, 143 N.W.2d 813, 820 (1966). Among other powers, statutory cities have the power to enact and enforce ordinances to promote “health, safety, order, convenience, and the general welfare.” Minn. Stat. § 412.221, subd. 32 (2006).
Notwithstanding a city’s broad “power to legislate in regard to municipal affairs,” state law may limit the power of a city to act in a particular area. Mangold, 274 Minn. at 7
357, 143 N.W.2d at 819-20 (internal quotation omitted). For example, a city cannot enact a local regulation that conflicts with state law, and state law may “fully occupy a particular field of legislation so that there is no room for local regulation.” Id. at 356, 143 N.W.2d at 819 (internal quotation omitted). In Mangold, we set forth four questions that are relevant in determining whether the area is one the legislature has “impliedly declared” to be an “area solely of state concern”:
(1) What is the ‘subject matter’ which is to be regulated? (2) Has the subject matter been so fully covered by state law as to have become solely a matter of state concern? (3) Has the legislature in partially regulating the subject matter indicated that it is a matter solely of state concern? (4) Is the subject matter itself of such a nature that local regulation would have unreasonably adverse effects upon the general populace of the state?
Id. at 358, 143 N.W.2d at 820. This analysis does not apply, however, when the legislature’s intent to limit municipal regulation in a particular area is expressly stated in the language of the statute. See id. at 359, 143 N.W.2d at 821. When a statute contains specific language as to the extent of permissible municipal regulation, our focus is on the language of the statute. See State v. Kuhlman, 729 N.W.2d 577, 580 (Minn. 2007) (applying the specific language of a state statute imposing a uniformity requirement on traffic regulations to determine the validity of a municipal ordinance authorizing photo enforcement of traffic control signals).
In this case, the relevant language of the State Building Code expresses the legislature’s specific intent to supersede municipal building codes. In enacting a statewide building code, the legislature recognized that a single, uniform set of building standards was necessary to lower costs and make housing more affordable. See Act of
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May 26, 1971, ch. 561, § 1, 1971 Minn. Laws 1018, 1019 (noting that multiple laws, ordinances, and rules regulating the construction of buildings “serve to increase costs without providing correlative benefits of safety to owners, builders, tenants, and users of buildings”). The statute therefore provides:
The State Building Code applies statewide and supersedes the building code of any municipality. A municipality must not by ordinance or through development agreement require building code provisions regulating components or systems of any residential structure that are different from any provision of the State Building Code.
Minn. Stat. § 16B.62, subd. 1. The parties agree that this language controls the resolution of this case. We turn next to the application of the plain wording of the statute.
II.
As noted above, the State Building Code currently provides that “[a] municipality must not by ordinance or through development agreement require building code provisions regulating components or systems of any residential structure that are different from any provision of the State Building Code.” Minn. Stat. § 16B.62, subd. 1. By its express terms, this language prohibits a municipal ordinance if (1) the ordinance is a building code provision; (2) it regulates a component or system of a residential structure; and (3) it is different from a provision of the State Building Code.
A. Building Code Provision
With respect to the first element of the express prohibition on municipal regulations of residential structures, the City asserts that the provisions of the Rental Licensing Ordinance are not “building code provisions.” Based on Mark Z. Jones, the City argues that the term “building code provisions” means that the regulation must affect
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“the design and construction” of the building, and the inspection standards at issue here do not relate to the design or the construction of Sax’s building. See Mark Z. Jones, 306 Minn. at 220, 236 N.W.2d at 165. According to the City, the ordinance merely regulates the business of rental housing, and the inspection standards relate to the use of the residence as rental property and its habitability—not its design and construction. The district court and court of appeals appear to have accepted this argument. The court of appeals concluded that the Rental Licensing Ordinance is not prohibited by the State Building Code because the ordinance regulates “the business of rental housing by enacting standards of habitability.” Sax Invs., 730 N.W.2d at 556.
We agree that the Rental Licensing Ordinance regulates the business of rental housing, but that conclusion does not resolve the issue presented in this case. Although we implicitly construed the term “building code” in Mark Z. Jones to include a regulation that “affects the construction and design of buildings,” 306 Minn. at 219, 236 N.W.2d at 165, we did not purport to exclude from that definition subjects that are plainly covered by the State Building Code. Indeed, we said that our decision in that case was “influenced, if not governed,” by the fact that the subject matter of the local ordinance was regulated by the State Building Code. See id. at 222, 236 N.W.2d at 167. In other words, if the subject of the regulation is included within the State Building Code, it is a “building code” regulation. We adopt the same reasoning in this case and conclude that
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the term “building code provision” means at least those subjects specifically regulated by the State Building Code.1
The City also argues that the term “building code provisions” is limited to regulations on the new construction of buildings and does not include regulations on the subsequent use of buildings. But the plain text of the State Building Code refutes this interpretation. The statutory statement of policy and purpose provides that “[t]he State Building Code governs the construction, reconstruction, alteration, and repair of buildings and other structures.” Minn. Stat. § 16B.59 (emphasis added); see also Minn. Rule 1300.0040 (2005) (explaining that “[t]he code applies to the construction, alteration, moving, demolition, repair and use of any building * * * in a municipality”). 2 Moreover, the State Building Code directly regulates the post-construction use of buildings through its use of occupancy classifications. The Code utilizes a system of occupancy
1 Additionally, the City argues that our decision in Mark Z. Jones held that the State Building Code only prohibits municipal regulations that affect something that is “integral” to the design and construction of a building. See 306 Minn. at 218, 236 N.W.2d at 165. At one point in Mark Z. Jones, we did describe the specific fire prevention devices at issue as “an integral part of the construction of the building.” Id. at 218, 236 N.W.2d at 165. But throughout our analysis and in our actual holding, we did not limit preemption to only those regulations that were an “integral part” of the design or construction of buildings. See id. at 219, 236 N.W.2d at 165 (holding that “insofar as local ordinances purport to adopt fire prevention measures which affect the design and construction of buildings, they are in conflict with the State Building Code which has preempted that field”). We likewise decline to engraft this limitation onto the statute in this case.
2 We apply the standards in effect at the time of the complaint, but we note that some of the applicable standards have changed since then. See, e.g., Minn. R. 1309.0010 (2007) (generally adopting the 2006 edition of the International Residential Code by reference); Minn. R. 1309.0313 (2007) (addressing smoke alarm requirements for alterations, repairs or additions). 11
classifications to tailor construction standards to different building types, and prohibits the use of a new building and changes in the occupancy classifications of an existing building unless the building complies with the code requirements that apply based on the intended use of the building. See Minn. R. 1300.0220 (2005). With respect to residential structures, the primary factors that distinguish between occupancy classes are (1) the transient or permanent nature of the typical occupants, and (2) the number of dwelling units in the structure.3 Minn. R. 1305.0310 (2005). Significant to our analysis in this case is the fact that in defining the building standards applicable to residential buildings, the State Building Code does not distinguish between buildings that are owner-occupied and those that are used as rental property.
Finally, the State Building Code regulates the post-construction use of buildings by specifically allowing the occupancy of an existing building to continue without complying with current code requirements (nonconforming use) unless a code provision is “specifically applicable to existing buildings.” 2000 Guidelines for the Rehabilitation of Existing Buildings § 104 (incorporated by reference into the State Building Code by Minn. R. 1311.0010 (2007)); see also Minn. R. 1300.0220, subp. 2 (stating that “[t]he legal occupancy of any structure existing on the date of adoption of the code shall be permitted to continue without change except as specifically required in chapter 1311”). In addition, the code does not permit existing conditions to continue if they are “unsafe”
3 The State Building Code also provides for a separate residential building classification consisting of residential care and assisted living facilities serving between 6 and 16 occupants. See Minn. R. 1305.0310 (2005).
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or “dangerous to human life.” See Minn. R. 1300.0180 (2007); Minn. R. 1311.0206 (2007). We therefore conclude that the term “building code provisions” is not limited to regulation of the new construction of buildings but may also include regulation on the subsequent use of a building.
B. Components or Systems
With respect to the second element of the express prohibition on municipal ordinances, we are asked to determine the meanings of “components” and “systems” in Minn. Stat. § 16B.62, subd. 1. When interpreting a statute, we “construe words and phrases according to their plain and ordinary meaning.” Am. Family Ins. Group v. Schroedl, 616 N.W.2d 273, 277 (Minn. 2000); see also Minn. Stat. § 645.08(1) (2006). Although the statute itself does not define the terms “components” and “systems,” the administrative rules incorporate the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, available at www.m-w.com, as the source of “ordinarily accepted meanings” for undefined terms in the State Building Code. Minn. R. 1300.0070, subp. 1 (2007); see also Minn. R. 1309.0201 (2007) (providing that the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary “shall be considered as providing ordinarily accepted meanings” for terms in the International Residential Code). According to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, a “component” is “a constituent part.” “System,” meanwhile, is defined as “a regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole,” or more specifically, “a group of devices or artificial objects or an organization forming a network especially for distributing something or serving a common purpose.” Because the administrative rules incorporate the definitions from this source, we apply these
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definitions in determining the scope of the municipal regulations that are prohibited under the State Building Code.
C. Different from
Finally, we consider the third element of the express prohibition on municipal ordinances: whether the municipal building code provision is “different from” any provision of the State Building Code. Minn. Stat. § 16B.62, subd. 1. Although the meaning of “different from” does not require extensive discussion, we do note that “different from” does not mean “in conflict with.” For example, in State v. Kuhlman, 729 N.W.2d 577 (Minn. 2007), we interpreted the uniformity requirement of the Minnesota Traffic Regulations, which provides that the provisions of Minn. Stat. ch. 169 (2006) “shall be applicable and uniform throughout this state” and that “no local authority shall enact or enforce any rule or regulation in conflict with the provisions of this chapter unless expressly authorized herein.” Minn. Stat. § 169.022 (emphasis added). In Kuhlman, we concluded that “no conflict exists when an ordinance is merely additional and complementary to a state law and covers specifically what the statute covers generally.” 729 N.W.2d at 581. In contrast, under Minn. Stat. § 16B.62, subd. 1, any difference from the State Building Code is prohibited. Thus, even a provision that is merely additional and complementary to a provision in the State Building Code is prohibited.
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III.
With these definitions in mind, we proceed to analyze whether the four inspection standards at issue here fall within the State Building Code’s express prohibition on municipal ordinances. The Rental Licensing Ordinance requires that residential buildings comply with several inspection standards before they may be used as rental property. The inspection standards at issue here require that (1) ground fault interrupter receptacles be installed on certain electrical outlets; (2) bathrooms receive ventilation from either an exterior window or a mechanical ventilation system; (3) rigid covers be installed over all egress windows; and (4) smoke detectors be installed in every sleeping room.
A. Ground Fault Interrupter Receptacles
We look first at the ordinance provision requiring ground fault interrupter receptacles. The Rental Licensing Ordinance provides that “[r]eceptacles in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms must be [ground fault interrupters] where receptacles are within 6 feet of a water supply.” Morris, Minn., Rental Licensing Ordinance § 4.32, subd. 21(b) (Section 2.02). A ground fault interrupter receptacle is a safety device that replaces a standard outlet and protects against electrical shocks by switching off the power to a circuit if it senses any loss in current. See U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, GFCIs Fact Sheet, http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/99.html (last visited Apr. 29, 2008). Because they replace standard electrical outlets, ground fault interrupter receptacles work with the other devices that comprise a building’s electrical system (i.e., 15
wires, fuses or circuit breakers, and switches) to safely distribute electrical power for use throughout the building.
The Minnesota State Building Code requires that ground fault interrupter receptacles be used for outlets in several specific areas throughout dwelling units, including outlets in bathrooms, outlets installed to serve kitchen countertop surfaces, and outlets in laundry rooms near sinks. See 2002 National Electrical Code § 210.8; Minn. R. 1315.0200 (2005) (providing that “[a]ll new electrical wiring, apparatus, and equipment for electric light, heat, power, technology circuits and systems, and alarm and communication systems must comply with” the 2002 edition of the National Electrical Code, as approved by the American National Standards Institute, Minn. Stat. § 326.243, and the Minnesota State Building Code). Because this provision is not specifically applicable to existing buildings, the nonconforming use provisions of the State Building Code, Minn. R. 1300.0220, subp. 2, allow the continued use of an existing building without the installation of ground fault interrupter receptacles. See Minn. R. 1315.0200; 2002 National Electrical Code § 210.8.
We conclude that the provision of the Rental Licensing Ordinance requiring the use of ground fault interrupter receptacles meets all three elements of the prohibition on municipal ordinances in the State Building Code, Minn. Stat. § 16B.62, subd. 1. First, because ground fault interrupter receptacles are regulated by the State Building Code, this provision of the ordinance is a building code provision. Second, the ordinance also regulates a component or system of a residential structure by mandating the inclusion of a specific device in the electrical system of a residential structure. Finally, although the
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State Building Code permits the continued use of an existing residential structure without the installation of these devices, the ordinance requires these devices. We therefore conclude that this provision is invalid under the State Building Code.
B. Bathroom Ventilation
We look next at the ordinance provision pertaining to bathroom ventilation. The Rental Licensing Ordinance requires ventilation in a bathroom from either “openable exterior openings”—i.e., windows—or “a mechanical ventilation system connected directly to the outside.” Morris, Minn., Rental Licensing Ordinance § 4.32, subd. 21(f) (Section 4.02).4 This provision thus requires the incorporation of either a window or a mechanical ventilation system into the structure itself.
The State Building Code requires that bathrooms contain either a window that opens or “artificial light and a mechanical ventilation system” that exhausts air directly to
4 Section 4.02 states in full:
Bathrooms, water closets, laundry rooms and similar rooms shall be provided with natural ventilation by means of openable exterior openings with an area not less than one twentieth of the floor area of such rooms with a minimum of 1 ½ square feet.
In lieu of required exterior openings for natural ventilation in bathrooms containing a bathtub or shower or combination thereof, laundry rooms, and similar rooms, a mechanical ventilation system connected directly to the outside capable of providing five air changes per hour shall be provided. The point of discharge of exhaust air shall be at least 3 feet from any opening into the building. Bathrooms which contain only a water closet and lavatory, and similar rooms, may be ventilated with an approved mechanical system and shall not be recirculated.
Morris, Minn., Rental Licensing Ordinance § 4.32, subd. 21(f) (Section 4.02). 17
the outside. 2000 International Residential Code § R303.3; see Minn. R. 1309.0010, subp. 1 (2005) (generally incorporating the 2000 edition of the International Residential Code into the Minnesota State Building Code by reference, with certain exceptions). A bathroom ventilation system, however, is not a requirement for existing residential buildings. See Minn. R. 1300.0220, subp. 2.
We conclude that the Rental Licensing Ordinance provision requiring ventilation in bathrooms meets all three elements of the prohibition on municipal ordinances in the State Building Code, Minn. Stat. § 16B.62, subd. 1. Because bathroom ventilation is covered by the State Building Code, this provision of the ordinance is a building code provision. Moreover, by requiring the creation of an opening in the exterior shell of a building and the installation of a window or mechanical ventilation system in a bathroom, the provision regulates the components of a residential structure. And finally, like the ordinance’s regulation of ground fault interrupter receptacles, this provision differs from the State Building Code because the Code allows the continued nonconforming use of a residential building without a bathroom ventilation system. Therefore, this provision of the municipal ordinance is invalid under the State Building Code.
C. Egress Window Covers
Next, we consider the provision of the Rental Licensing Ordinance regarding egress windows. The ordinance requires rigid covers over basement egress windows. 18
Morris, Minn., Rental Licensing Ordinance § 4.32, subd. 21(c) (Section 6.02).5 The State Building Code, however, expressly makes egress window covers optional:
Bars, grills, covers, screens or similar devices are permitted to be placed over emergency escape and rescue openings, bulkhead enclosures, or window wells that serve such openings, provided * * * such devices shall be releasable or removable from the inside without the use of a key, tool or force greater than that which is required for normal operation of the escape and rescue opening.
2000 International Residential Code § R310.4 (emphasis added); see Minn. R. 1309.0010, subp. 1.
We conclude that the Rental Licensing Ordinance provision requiring the installation of covers over egress windows meets all three elements of the prohibition on municipal ordinances in the State Building Code, Minn. Stat. § 16B.62, subd. 1. Because egress window covers are regulated by the State Building Code, this provision is a building code provision. Moreover, windows are incorporated into the structure of a building and therefore are components of that structure. The ordinance requires the installation of an additional device on some of these components and therefore constitutes a regulation of that component. It also directly requires that which the State Building
5 Section 6.02 states in full:
Window Coverings–Egress window wells must be covered and free of any obstruction. Window well covers are required for each egress window. Covers shall be of rigid and transparent or translucent material with framework of decay resistant material or manufactured covers designed to fit a window well.
Morris, Minn., Rental Licensing Ordinance § 4.32, subd. 21(c) (Section 6.02) (emphasis added). 19
Code leaves to the discretion of the building owner, and is therefore different from the State Building Code. Thus, this provision of the ordinance is invalid under the State Building Code.
D. Smoke Detectors
Finally, we address the smoke detector provision of the Rental Licensing Ordinance. The ordinance provides that “[a]ny room used for sleeping purposes shall be provided with smoke detectors.” Morris, Minn., Rental Licensing Ordinance § 4.32, subd. 21(c) (Section 2.01).6 The State Building Code also requires the installation of smoke detectors “[i]n each sleeping room” and in other locations throughout the structure. 2000 International Residential Code § R317.1; see Minn. R. 1309.0010, subp. 3 (2005) (incorporating by reference the 2000 International Residential Code “Section R317 Smoke Alarms” into the State Building Code). Like the provisions discussed above, however, the State Building Code’s smoke detector requirements are not specifically applicable to existing residential structures. See Minn. R. 1300.0220, subp. 2.
6 Section 2.01 states in full:
Smoke Detectors/Alarms–Any room used for sleeping purposes shall be provided with smoke detectors. Detectors shall be installed in accordance with the approved manufacturer’s instructions. When a dwelling unit has more than one story and in dwellings with basements, a detector shall also be installed on each story including the basement. Detectors shall sound an alarm audible in all sleeping areas of the dwelling unit in which they are located. All smoke detectors shall be maintained operational at all times.
Morris, Minn., Rental Licensing Ordinance § 4.32, subd. 21(c) (Section 2.01).
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But the State Building Code also requires that all dwellings must comply with Minn. Stat. § 299F.362 (2006), which addresses smoke detector requirements. Minn. Stat. § 16B.61, subd. 3(b) (2006). Section 299F.362 requires that all dwellings be outfitted with smoke detectors as required by the State Fire Code, id., subds. 3-3a, and generally prohibits a municipality from adopting smoke detector requirements that are different from the State Fire Code, id., subd. 7. See also Minn. R. ch. 7511 (2007) (the Minnesota State Fire Code). Local governing bodies, however, are specifically authorized to adopt more restrictive smoke detector requirements for single-family homes: “Notwithstanding subdivision 7, or other law, a local governing body may adopt, by ordinance, rules for the installation of a smoke detector in single-family homes in the city that are more restrictive than the standards provided by this section.” Minn. Stat.
§ 299F.362, subd. 9 (emphasis added). If the building at issue in this case is a single-family home, the smoke detector provision of the Rental Licensing Ordinance would be expressly permitted by section 299F.362, subdivision 9, and would therefore not be different than the State Building Code. But because the record in this case does not reveal whether the building owned by Sax is a single-family home, we cannot determine whether the ordinance provision requiring the installation of smoke detectors in each sleeping room is invalid under state law. Accordingly, we remand this issue to the district court for further proceedings.
IV.
The City of Morris and the amici curiae City of Saint Paul, City of Rochester, and League of Minnesota Cities argue that municipalities must, as a matter of public policy,
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have the authority to enforce habitability standards to protect the health and safety of tenants from substandard housing. The cities assert that property owners do not have the same incentives to maintain rental property as they do their own residences, and tenants generally have little leverage to require landlords to address habitability problems. We recognize that substandard housing raises health and safety issues for municipalities, and that disposition of this case raises considerations about the ability of municipalities to address these issues. But regardless of our view on the merits of these policy arguments, we are bound to apply the policy decisions adopted by the legislature and embodied in the State Building Code. In this case, the plain statutory text clearly indicates that the City’s building code provisions regulating ground fault interrupter receptacles, bathroom ventilation, and egress window covers are invalid because they are “different from” the State Building Code. Minn. Stat. § 16B.62, subd. 1.7
V.
Finally, the City of Morris argues that the four ordinance violations at issue in this case involve unsafe conditions that should be considered “dangerous to human life,”
7 Our decision should not be misconstrued as precluding all municipal regulation of rental housing. For example, municipalities are permitted to require that a residential structure be inspected and found to comply with valid state and local regulations—including the “dangerous to human life” provisions of the State Building Code—before a rental license is issued for the property. See Minn. Stat. § 16B.62, subd. 1 (discussing the adoption and enforcement of State Building Code by municipalities); see also Minn. Stat. § 504B.161, subd. 1(3) (2006) (requiring that landlords comply with “health and safety laws of the state * * * and of the local units of government where the premises are located”). In addition, municipal rental housing regulations are not prohibited by the State Building Code if they do not regulate components or systems of a residential structure covered by the State Building Code and are not different from any provisions in the State Building Code. This leaves many permissible areas of regulation.
22
which allows the City to take action against the property. See Minn. R. 1311.0206 (requiring a building official to order a building vacated “if its continued use is dangerous to life, heath, or safety” and requiring all unsafe buildings to be “abated by repair, rehabilitation, demolition, or removal”). But Sax’s property was not cited as being “dangerous to life, health, or safety,” and this issue was not raised in the City’s complaint. In addition, this issue was not argued to either the district court or the court of appeals, and was not raised in connection with Sax’s petition for further review. We therefore conclude that this issue is not properly before us. See Thiele v. Stich, 425 N.W.2d 580, 582-83 (Minn. 1988).
Because we conclude that the City’s regulations requiring ground fault interrupter receptacles, ventilation in bathrooms, and egress window covers are building code provisions that regulate a component or system of a residential structure and are different from the State Building Code, these regulations are invalid under Minn. Stat. § 16B.62, subd. 1. But because the factual record is insufficient to determine whether the regulation requiring smoke detectors in every sleeping room is permitted under state law, we remand this issue to the district court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Reversed and remanded.
DIETZEN, J., not having been a member of this court at the time of the argument and submission, took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
23
D I S S E N T
Anderson, Paul H., Justice (concurring in part and dissenting in part)
I respectfully dissent. I agree with the majority that the provisions of the municipal ordinance regulating ground fault interrupter receptacles and bathroom ventilation are prohibited by the State Building Code. But I conclude that egress window coverings are not “components or systems” of a “residential structure” and therefore may be regulated under the municipal ordinance. Minn. Stat. § 16B.62, subd. 1 (2006).
The majority correctly concludes that “ground fault interrupter receptacles work with the other devices that comprise a building’s electrical system.” I therefore agree that such receptacles are part of the system of a residential structure, and thus the State Building Code prohibits municipalities from regulating them in a way that differs from the Code. Similarly, a bathroom ventilation provision that requires “the incorporation of either a window or a mechanical ventilation system into the structure itself, see Morris, Minn., Rental Licensing Ordinance § 4.32, subd. 21(f), § 4.02 (2002),” regulates a component of a residential structure because it affects a “constituent part” of that structure. Thus the State Building code also prohibits municipalities from regulating bathroom ventilation differently.
Unlike ground fault interrupter receptacles and bathroom ventilation, I conclude that coverings on egress windows are neither “systems” nor “components” of a residential structure. The majority reasons that because egress windows are components of a residential structure, and because an ordinance requiring window covers requires the installation of an additional device on these components, the ordinance regulates the D-24
components themselves. While I agree that an egress window itself may be a component of a residential structure, extending the definition of “component” to include the window cover goes too far.
An egress window cover is an external add-on that is neither a part of the structure itself, nor a part of any systems that are part of the structure. Because egress window covers easily attach to the outside surface of a window on a residential structure (if they are attached at all), regulation of such covers would not require an owner to rewire anything within the structure, as would the installation of ground fault interrupter receptacles, or to cut into walls or any other part of the structure, as would bathroom ventilation regulations. Because the State Building Code explicitly states that only “building code provisions regulating components or systems of any residential structure” are prohibited, Minn. Stat. § 16B.62, subd. 1, and because I conclude that egress window coverings are not “components or systems,” I further conclude that the State Building Code does not prohibit the regulation of egress window covers. Thus, I would hold that the district court did not err when it concluded that the municipality’s ordinance provision requiring the installation of rigid covers over basement egress windows is valid under the State Building Code.
D-25

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob, make a long story short, whats the deal with this ?

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The way I read it, the city is all done requiring all these bogus repairs. I believe it also means that the city's actions requiring "code compliance certification" from people with renters with behavior problems was illegal.

Are there any Attorneys online? I think there's going to be a lot of business for you guys very shortly!

5:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What this says is that the City can't require a different building code for rental property than the state does for all property. It left open the issue of smoke detectors, (you could make a case that I have no clue what my neighbor is doing in their unit so all rental units should have a lot of smoke detectors to protect one tennant from the next) but anything that would require different ventilating systems or thicker walls or better window or heating systems is out.

I don't have any idea if it effects Saint Paul or Minneapolis at all because I doubt they have seperate code issues, but if they do they have to stop enforcing them. The last I knew (ten years ago) the fire guys who inspected the multi-family buildings were straight out of the state code, and I can't find anything in a quick glance at the code where their is a seperate section of code issues for rental property.

Regaurdless, put me down as someone who thinks this is a good ruling. The code should be consistant and renters should be as safe as home owners.

JMONTOMEPPOF

Chuck Repke

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And homeowners should get illegal code compliances just like the renters do!

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sue Sue Sue! Anyone who's been ordered to do one of those illegal code complaince deals shoud get an Attorney and sue the crap out of them.

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck,

You stop kiss ass.

Chapter 34,35. Of st.Paul
was change and now its is illgeal as hell. Bye code enforcement . Hello lawsuits.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

where is everyon??
No chuck??

Well, Its about time that people
get the money from St.Paul.

For the bullshit codes enforcement.

I hear that many lawyer are line up At the court house Web sit.

filing many lawsuit against the St.Paul.

10:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK just read chapter 34 and 35 and the only thing that looks to be Saint Paul's own code is the requirement for screen windows with 16 gage mesh. Other than that they just quote the state building code. Unless you guys can see something I don't.

JMONTOMEPPOF

Chuck Repke

10:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read it aqgain Chuck. No more illegal code complaince requirments adn now the city owes everyone who was illegaly ordered to do one.

11:57 PM  
Blogger Nancy Lazaryan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And now for the wedge!

1:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Chuck....where in the code does it say the city inspectors can lie about violations that don't exist? Where does it say that they can scheme with others through email to target people to force them out of the business and then destroy the evidence when they get sued? Where does it mention behavior issues in the housing code? Where does it say that city employees can commit extortion against people to try and get their property? I don't see any of those things in the code Chuck.

3:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now you throw in the fact the city was enforcing different standards of the code to pha and private landlords and you will get a major problem for the city.Its going to be hard to explain Chuck.

Chuck using a ramped up code to address behavior is going to be a real problem for the city.


Chuck using one standard of enforcement with pha and another with the private side is going to be another problem.

Its not all about rico Chuck.How about fair and equal treatment?


Tim Ciani

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

face it chuck the is going down for the count.

You need a nes job.
Maybe dave will hire you.

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm afraid this new court ruling is not looking good for your side Chuck. Looks like your buddy Kathy Lantry is going to have to find some new tools to use against people.

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it the English language that is hard for you guys or what?

The City of Morris had its own building code different than the state building code. Look at chapter 34 and you tell me what is in there that is different thatn the state code. Everywhere in there it make refference to the state code. The only other issues are about debry and damage and how soon one has to remove them. Like I said the only thing I see that stands out is the requirement on screen windows, I have no idea if that is in conflict with the state code.

You guys must use lots and lots of tin foil...

JMONTOMEPPOF

Chuck Repke

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and Tim find me that section in the code where there is seperate inspection standards for PHA than for other rental, I must have missed that.

JMONTOMEPPOF

Chuck Repke

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try reading the code that was in effect back in 2003 Chuck. That's what the city is being sued for. I doubt you'll find the things you talk about there. The things your talking about were added later in a "cover up" attempt. In the event your eyes are better than mine, let me know where it says they can side step the grandfathering provisions and require a "code compliance certification" on a property.

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Brenda said...

"...and Tim find me that section in the code where there is seperate inspection standards for PHA than for other rental, I must have missed that."

That's the point you moron....there is nothing in the code and the city applies different standards in their enforcement.

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow.

I think the key argument – and problem for St. Paul – is grandfathering. Even if chapter 34 is in compliance with state law, the city cannot apply new building standards to existing buildings. Clearly St. Paul and Morris are.

Does anyone know State building codes very well? Does it ever give a municipality the right to require an existing building be “brought up to current code?” If so, when can a municipality do that?

BTW, I think this ruling would apply to every property, not just rental. If a municipality has required repairs above the State building code (or ignored grandfathering), the owner has been damaged.

Every metro city I know of is in violation of this law. Wow.

Bill Cullen.

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as a home inspector you can only tell what is working and what is not working. What need to be fix "if it is not working." And then only the items(s) that are not workinh. Sometime not up to code.

St.Paul Said that If does not work its to be all to code.

The code when the house was build
is what you had to be worry about.

If the furance need a belt, that the only thing that you fixs. not replace the old furance for a new one.

4:57 PM  
Blogger Nancy Lazaryan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck said,..."and Tim find me that section in the code where there is seperate inspection standards for PHA than for other rental, I must have missed that."



Ciani says," Your catching on my little green horn!There is no section my little play buddy.But theres much evidence out there that shows pha was held to Hud standard codes instead of the agressive ones the city put on the private landlord.Keep up the good work Chuck,your going to get it one of these days and then you can go back and tell Thune how F'd they are!"



Tim Ciani

8:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill,

My father was on the board of Housing Appeals for many years, back when the city had citizen oversight. They went into these code issues very deeply. He said that you simply cannot require an old building be brought to new code. It is out of the nature of construction. Further there is such an immense number of new codes it is virtually impossible to bring an old building to new code. It is irresponsible to demand that an old building be brought to all new codes.

Bob G

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is the English language that you all have problems with:

"Our decision should not be misconstrued as precluding all municipal regulation of rental housing. For example, municipalities are permitted to require that a residential structure be inspected and found to comply with valid state and local regulations—including the “dangerous to human life” provisions of the State Building Code—before a rental license is issued for the property."

Read that again slowly....

That says that if a City said all building had to meet all CURRENT building codes they would be allowed by the state to do so.

There is no such thing as grandfathering as far as health and safety goes you are all just flat out wrong on that.

Saint Paul requires all vacant bildings be brought up to current code and the court just said they could... that is what those words mean.

... and Timmy the point of this case was that the City of Morris had different typed up rules..

JMONTOMEPPOF

Chuck Repke

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And St Paul has different rules because they ae using the housing code to address behavior issues. Since the city cannot go above the State Building Code, tell me where it addresses behavior issues in the State Building Code Chuck.

1:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No Chuck. Are you in the Outer Limits?

Grandfathering is valid, As far as the wording, that is why we have professionals to interpret it. But the system needs safeguards such as citicen overview.

7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All rheteric aside, even Chuck will have to admit that the City Council bungled it, and let the inspections department get out of control. This is poisoning the rest of the Late Great City of St. Paul

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck,

Yes the court left open the window of additional municipal regulation based on “dangerous to human life.” But what is “dangerous?” This case discussed: Ground faults, smoke detectors, bath vents and window covers. Which do you believe are dangerous to human life?

Clearly none are “dangerous” like a leaking gas line. I suspect we agree that bath vents and window covers are not dangerous. Ground faults and smoke detectors are safety equipment. Do you think a court would rule that a home is “dangerous” unless it has MORE safety equipment than required by state law? Sounds like a risky argument to me.

The beginning of the paragraph you quoted starts with “the State Building Code regulates the post-construction use of buildings by specifically allowing the occupancy of an existing building to continue without complying with current code requirements (nonconforming use) unless a code provision is specifically applicable to existing buildings.” Maybe “grandfathering” is the wrong word, do you prefer “continued nonconforming use?”

Bill Cullen.

8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob G said “you simply cannot require an old building be brought to new code.”

Really? Never? Not even if I pull a permit to upgrade some electrical, can the city require me to upgrade all electrical? Or if I open a wall up for any reason, can the city require I bring everything in that wall up to current code?

If Bob is right, every city I have done business in is violating state law.

Bill Cullen.

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Nancy. From state code:

Subd. 1e. Nonconformities. Any nonconformity, including the lawful use or occupation of
land or premises existing at the time of the adoption of an additional control under this chapter,
may be continued, including through repair or maintenance, but if the nonconformity or
occupancy is discontinued for a period of more than one year, or any nonconforming use is
destroyed by fire or other peril to the extent of greater than 50 percent of its market value, any
subsequent use or occupancy of the land or premises shall be a conforming use or occupancy. A
municipality may by ordinance impose upon nonconformities reasonable regulations to prevent
and abate nuisances and to protect the public health, welfare, or safety. This subdivision does
not prohibit a municipality from enforcing an ordinance that applies to adults-only bookstores,
adults-only theaters, or similar adults-only businesses, as defined by ordinance.

"discontinued for a period of one year." I suspect there are MANY "vacant buildings" that have a code compliance before they were vacant for 12 months. Oops.

Sorry for dominating the board...

Bill Cullen.

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuckie said,..." and Timmy the point of this case was that the City of Morris had different typed up rules.."



Ciani says,"And the point I was making is the city didn't enforce its agressive code they used on private landlords.They aloud pha to regulate themselves and use Hud standards instead of the citys."


Chuck lets put our differences aside!Do you believe there would be a problem if the city was uses a different set of codes to regulate pha and the private landlord?



Timmy Ciani

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And to back up Bill.I've interviewed many people that had their house put on the vacant list well before the one year mark.Chuck the city is in big trouble and its only a matter of time.


When the shit drops chuck Dave,the city council and people like you are going to get ate up!



Tim Ciani

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This soesn't look good Chuck. My presiction: lots of lawsuits! New "tools" for the property owner to use against the city.

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Queen Lantry at the helm of a shipwreck. The city might be able to fight a few landlords suing now, but they're not going to be able to fight all of them that will sue when they find out about this. Where's the money gonna come from Chucky boy?

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ATTENTION ALL LANDLORDS:

Go see the ricomen Attorneys Shoemaker & Engle.

Sign up now and get your money early.....might not be any left if you wait till the end.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill,

You can't require old buildings be brought to new code. However, if something is being changed, it is a new set of circumstances, that has to be considered by competent professionals using reasonableness.

As far as code wording, look at it as "boilerplate". I think the writers have to word things that way, but this also has to be interpreted by competent professionals in the spirit of the intent.

I experienced what happens with a lack of professionalism. My house was condemned because a contractor made a mistake and didn't finish the electrical work. When I provided proof the work was done by a licensed bonded electrical contractor with the proper permit and done under city inspection, a building official would not overrule an errant electrical inspector. Then I was required to meet code compliance, for the contractor's and inspector's oversight. The code compliance was a hodgepodge of respecting and disrespecting grandfathering. The official later illegally handled my data practices request.

Bob G

1:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Bob G

It has been interpeted by professionals. It was interpeted by the Minnesota Supreme Court and is now the law of the state. It's not "boilerplate," it's the law from now on.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 2:46

I'd have to see a decision like that, because it is outside of precidents of what has worked. It would lead people to succeed no better than the builders of Babel, and that situation is not happening everywhere.

Bob G

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What????????????????

Read the subject title man.....Bob posted the case! What are you commneting on?

9:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob G,

Better get nancy to arrest that official !!!

9:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the days of code compliances are all gone in St Paul.

9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, the state code is what the City enforces. When you up grade a building... install a new toilet, rewire.. you are required to do the work according to the State Code. You can not say well the building was built a hundred years ago so I am not going to vent the toilet. The state code won't allow you to do it. There is no grandfathering toward any new work that is done.

And when you pick up a building that has been vacant for a year, it is like starting from scratch everything in the building has to be brought up to state code.

And any health safety stuff that the state says all buildings shall apply across the board.

It is going to change nothing about how inspections are done in Saint Paul that I can see. There isn't two codes the one in the book and the secret Ciatti code.

JMONTOMEPPOF

Chuck Repke

12:34 AM  
Blogger Nancy Lazaryan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is it that you don't get about this Repke. No one is saying that you can put in a new toilet and not do it to code. People are complaining because inspectors come out to a property because of behavior that has nothing to do with the house. They then lie about violations to condemn it and also get a lot of violations and then they say because it has so many violations that the owner has to get a code compliance. It's wrong Chuck and they're getting sued for it currently. When you are not doing a new install they cannot make you bring it up to modern day code, much less do one when your being extorted by a lying inspector.

3:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck,

What you wrote; we all agree on. That is what the state law says. But, St. Paul (and many metro cities) go way beyond the state code.

They don't wait for 12 months of vacancy before requiring a code compliance.

They have requirements above "dangerous to human health" that they enforce today.

They frequently require one to upgrade an entire system just because you touch the system or open a wall.

I think this ruling says St. Paul has gone too far. That is the fundamental claim of the many lawsuits against the city.

Nancy, if you have already won this issue, what are we fighting?

Bill Cullen.

7:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the issue is once the building goes vacant and is declared a public nuisence because of poor maintenance that you have reached the health safety level. That may be where we have an issue here.

As to the "bringing a building up to the code when it was built" issue. Excuse me, but do you have the hand book for the code for 1887? That was the year my duplex was built.

Get real folks, That is not what the state means. When you do electric and plumbing work, the only thing the city/state can enterpret as the code is the state building code.

When you rip into a wall and expose wiring or plumbing that you are tapping into the City will require that anything they inspect be up to code. The City can't require you to rip open a wall (of an occupied building) that isn't open. But, when you start splicing into a system, they have nothing else to go on.

JMONTOMEPPOF

Chuck Repke

8:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Folks I get it-Chucks a complete idiot and just doesn't understand what the city has been doing and what we are even talking about.Chuck take the tin foil out of your ears!

Chuck the city has been putting houses on the vacant list and requiring code compliances weeks after tenants moved out due to the fact they had city code violations.Like torn screens,peeling paint,rotten wood and so on.Is that the safety shit you talk of my boy?



Chuck this ruling should scare the shit out of the city.I think everybody who had a house put on the vacant list has a claim-and a big one at that!



Tim Ciani

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tim, Bob and Bill

Read the case again. These were occupied buildings and a seperate special code for rental property that was not in place for owner occupied property. Wishes and hopes don't make something real this was not about vacant building other than that the court said the City can be concerned about health/safety.

It is the City's belief that when you disconnect the power and/or the water from a building it is no longer habitable. Once that occurs the health/safety issues come into play and then you can require a building to be brought up to state code. (That is where we are not looking at this the same way.)

From what was posted:
"Finally, the State Building Code regulates the post-construction use of buildings by specifically allowing the occupancy of an existing building to continue without complying with current code requirements (nonconforming use) unless a code provision is “specifically applicable to existing buildings.”

So, folks once the water and power is shut off and the building is vacant it isn't occupied. Then what Bill quoted comes into play :

"A municipality may by ordinance impose upon nonconformities reasonable regulations to prevent
and abate nuisances and to protect the public health, welfare, or safety."

Show me where the court said something else.

JMONTOMEPPOF

Chuck Repke

10:04 AM  
Blogger Nancy Lazaryan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nancy, that is why they send you a notice (unless of course you are dead... inside joke between me and Nancy).

When you get the notice you can appeal to the council that the building isn't vacant and you will be wintering in Florida.

This stuff isn't as complicated as you make it.

JMONTOMEPPOF

Chuck Repke

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This stuff isn't as complicated as you make it."

It is this complicated Chuck when the inspectors lie about violations and the Legislative and Court hearings are rigged ahead of time. These hearings are nothing more than a fraudulant front to make it look like someone has had their due process when in realtiy these matters are talked about and decided well in advance of the hearings.

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It appears to be a few issues here.

If a house is moved, I've heard the owner is required to do a major code upgrade.

If a house is condemned, the city is claiming that same logic applies.

If inspectors tell lies to get a house condemned, or force their way into someons's house illegally, than the city still claims to require a major code upgrade.

Code writers cannot anticipate all field conditions, therefore professional judgment on interpretation is necessary.

In order to have professional judgment (which is different in St. Paul than it used to be) there has to be a structure to ensure fairness to both the city and the owners.

I've heard there are numerous codes that are impossable to enforce them all. Another case for judgment.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Nancy Lazaryan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chcuk won't respond to your specifics Nancy any more than he will respond to the constant statements that the city fixed the courts. He knows it's true and there isn't anything to say other than his typical BS spin.

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the city is so interested in getting these rental properties fixed up, then why won't they let the owners do the plumbing, electric and heating work Chuck? The answer is because the fix up issue is more about power and control and looking out for their union buddies than the "threat to public safety" they always hold out as their motivation. If they want these places fixed up then they need to walk the talk instead of finding scapegoats to make themselves look good.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nancy - what planet do you live on? We are talking YEARS here before most of these places ever get demo notices. The one Bob just posted has been vacant since March of 2005 the mail isn't that f'ing slow!

If you are maintaining your property their isn't going to be any issues. If you have a well and an alternative energy system, you just let the City know...

But that has nothing to do with any of the problems that come up in front of the council. What you see are properties that have been vacant for years and some one picks up just before the council is going to demo. Why do you think the price was so low?

...and to the guy who thinks the courts were bought off.... the courts are appointed by the GOP governor not the City Council. They have no responsibility to the City. Get that tin foil on a little thicker... the aliens are sending secret messages again.

JMONTOMEPPOF

Chuck Repke

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know one of the landlords suing the city Chuck so I know what I am talking about. I was told that city officials testified under oath in depositions that the city met with the court and hand picked the judge to hear the city's cases against property owners.....as well as judges that would never hear a case. Your the one that has the tin foil!

And to address your issue Sharon about training for the judges.....they have already recieved that. After the city hand picked a judge to hear their cases, members of the city Attorneys office and the Police dept. went to the judges chambers to "TRAIN" the judge! This was also testified to Chuck.

Aside from the obvious "Seperation of Powers Act" violations Chuck I think it should bother you that these property owners were railroaded through court without even a notice of the hearing sometimes, no provision for a jury trial, no chance to get an extension to even find legal counsel, fabricated evidence used against them and a crooked judge who had already determined the outcome before the defendant even got there.

There's your conspiracy asshole and there will be no trouble proving it beyond doubt. The city was so stupid, they even gave the landlords suing them thier hand written notes ocncerning the above "FACTS."

I believe you're the one wearing the tin foil Chuck. Why don't you try taking it off and letting some truth in for a change.

3:37 PM  
Blogger Nancy Lazaryan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your a little off base Nancy....there are documented cases where people went on vacation and came back after 2 weeks to find they couldn't live in thier homes and had to do a code compliance. There are other instances where people have called the Police for help and the Police brought in code inspectors to condemn the house and they had to do a code compliance. KSTP had a story a few years ago about people that were afraid to call the Police even if they did need help because they were afraid of losing their home. There are cases where people's kids forgot to pay the electric bill and had to leave their home until they did a code compliance. Illegal code compliances Repke.....hundreds of them.....and now the city's gonna pay. Hell if it takes them 6 months to get you while you're in FLorida, you got a good deal Nancy!

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

... and in your world Nancy its OK if there are piles of trash in the yard and broken windows and god knows what all going on with the place while they are in Florida, because they have rights and their neighbors have no rights.

And 9:10 give me an address of this 2 week turn around.

JMONTOMEPPOF

Chuck Repke

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ask Marcia Moermond about the 2 week turn around Repke....she knows it. While your at it, ask her how the Legislative Hearings sometimes trick people into doing a Code Compliance inspection rather than a Truth in Housing inspection because "it's cheaper" when someone appears in front of her and says they are going to be selling the property. The people go away thinking they are saving money, only to find out later that the repairs listed on the NOW ILLEGAL Code Compliance come out to tens of thousands of dollars and are mandatory whereas the Truth in housing is not.

1:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

... and Chuck, in your world how about the piles of verbal trash and broken truths and God knows what else politically. And chuck, aren't the inspectors a public menace to the health and safety because of all the stress they cause, because their minds are not occupied.

6:44 AM  
Anonymous Jeff Matiatos said...

Hwere is a perfect example of the way St.Paul and it police department handles data practices requests. Not to mention St.Pauls disrespect to citizens.

www.ipad.state.mn.us/opinions/2003/03022.html



Jeff Matiatos

7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck bringing a building up to todays code is alittle bit more expensive then fixing a couple of deficieces.Have you and the brain dead city council ever wondered the reason houses sit on the vacant list so long is that it is so expensive?


Tim Ciani

8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tim

Bill and I have talked in the past. I think it would be great if we could find away to get home owners in to some of those buildings and allow them to do some sweat equity repairs to be able to get the properties into shape. That was what we did back in the 70's.

That is how many of the houses in Irvine Park were restored. The issue of course is that the folks who love to sue (hmm I wonder if any of them are here) would never tolerate a policy that would allow home owners to do something landlords couldn't do.

JMONTOMEPPOF

Chuck Repke

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read about this decision in today's St Paul paper. It commented on the problem and impact of municipalities writing their own rules that supercede the state standards.

From the article, it looks like Marcia Moermond is soon going to go the way of the DoDo bird. Also It appears that the management of Sax Investments are among many heroes in this. Maybe the landlords will erect a statute in commemoration in Rice Park.

Also chuck, the city cannot have it both ways. First they claim there is no judgment and interpretation necessary, then the inspectors with tin badges interpret things any way they damm fool please. Chuck explain this please!

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Minnesota Supreme Court / Case in Morris calls local building codes into question
Cities told state standards trump theirs
By Emily Gurnon and Dave Orrick
Pioneer Press
Article Last Updated: 05/19/2008 11:22:57 PM CDT


Can a city force a landlord to put in things like bathroom ventilation and those special electrical outlets for kitchens?

In a Morris, Minn., case that could have far-reaching implications for municipalities all over Minnesota, the state Supreme Court said no.

"We recognize that substandard housing raises health and safety issues for municipalities, and that disposition of this case raises considerations about the ability of municipalities to address these issues," Justice Lorie Gildea wrote for the court.

But cities cannot make regulations that supersede the state building code, the court ruled Thursday.

"It's certainly not a good decision (for cities)," said Tom Grundhoefer, general counsel for the Minnesota League of Cities, which filed an amicus brief with the court, siding with the city of Morris.

St. Paul officials now are passing the opinion around in a scramble to figure out what it means for the city.

Potentially at stake: the very regulations the city uses to determine if nonowner-occupied buildings are up to snuff at a time when the city's code compliance staff is growing and at its busiest in recent years.

"The health, safety and welfare of the residents of St. Paul would be significantly and adversely affected if the court were to rule that the state building code preempts local use and occupancy of structures," the city wrote in its amicus brief.

But on Monday, city officials were more measured in their predictions.

"Mostly, we don't know," said Marcia Moermond, who acts as both senior policy analyst for the City Council and the chief hearing officer who makes recommendations to the council regarding alleged building violations.
"We have adopted the state building code in our ordinances," she said. "It definitely is the main building block we refer to. In the few cases where we have something different, it's usually around the realm of nuisance conditions and dangerous buildings, but they appear to be outside the scope of the opinion and the state building code."

At the center of the Supreme Court case is 56-year-old Morris engineer Michael Sax, who owns several rental properties.

In 2005, Sax tried to get a license for one of his buildings. A city inspection revealed eight violations of the city's rental licensing ordinance standards.

When inspectors went back in two months later, four of the violations still were not fixed.

The city of Morris argued at the district and appeals courts that the state building code only pre-empts local regulation of the construction and design of buildings, not the use or occupancy of them.

But Sax argued otherwise:

"I'm a type A personality, and I pay attention to detail, and in this case the law is pretty straightforward," he said.

The law says, in part, "The State Building Code applies statewide and supersedes the building code of any municipality."

Besides, he said, there was a philosophical principle involved.

In Morris, "a number of (city officials) did as they simply wanted to do," even if it wasn't right, he said. "I'm willing to fight that battle."

The Supreme Court said cities still are allowed to inspect property and make sure it is not "dangerous to human life," as defined by the state code. And local rules are OK if they regulate things not covered under the state code.

Renters should not see the decision as a "score one for the slum landlords," said Rick Stermer, Sax's attorney. It's actually the opposite, he said. "In our opinion, it makes it a uniform standard in each city for each builder," he said.

Emily Gurnon can be reached at 651-228-5522. Dave Orrick can be reached at 651-292-1159.

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marcia said; In the few cases where we have something different, it's usually around the realm of nuisance conditions and dangerous buildings, but they appear to be outside the scope of the opinion and the state building code."

PAY DAY IS COMING FOR THE RICOMEN.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Nancy Lazaryan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nancy, this blog has a reputation of being a place where the average guy or gal can tell politicians what concens they have. I hope Bob carry's on with the blog. There will always be stories to tell.

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually you're wrong Nancy. When the financial end of this thing is finished up, then the criminal part will start. That is when the Justice dept will step in and start charging these city officials for their criminal actions.....and there are many!

1:25 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Due to this ruling it was suggested to me St. Paul's biggest problem is "code certification".

The state building code permits a building to be vacant indefinitely without losing its non-conforming use rights, provided the building is properly maintained while it is vacant.

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob - that is why the City uses the disconnection of water and electricity as a "public health" issue.

Buildings can be "unoccupied," and maintain the same status as an occupied building. What Saint Paul calls "vacant" is a structure that is no longer functioning as a residence. If it no longer has water and electric its just a pile of wood.

JMONTOMEPPOF

Chuck Repke

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

STATEMENT OF THE LEGAL ISSUES
The City of Saint Paul concurs with the City of Morris' Statement of the Legal Issues.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE AND FACTS
The City of Saint Paul concurs with the City ofMorris' Statement of the Case and Facts.

ARGUMENT
Amicus City of Saint Paul submits its Brier to help inform the Court of the importance of cities' ability to regulate under local housing and rental codes. The
health, safety, and welfare of the residents of Saint Paul would be significantly and
adversely affected·ifthe Court were to rule that the state building code pre-empts
local regulation ofthe use and occupancy of structures. Amicus City of Saint Paul
.agrees with the City ofMorris that the state building codes only pre-empt local
regulation of the construction and design of building, but do not pre-empt local
regulation ofthe use or occupancy thereof; that even if pre-empted,
"grandfathering" does not apply to life safety violations. Those arguments will not
be repeated here.
1 Pursuant to Minn. R. Civ. App. P. 129.03, the City of Saint Paul certifies that this
briefwas not authored in whole or in part by counsel for either party to this appeal,
and that no other person or entity made a monetary contribution to its preparation
or submission.
1
L
1. LOCAL REGULATION IN 1HE CITY OF SAINT PAUL
To protect the health and safety of its residents, the City of Saint Paul
adopted a number ofordinances applying the distinction identified in City of
Minnetonka v. Mark Z. Jones Assoc., Inc., 306 Minn. 217,236 N.W. 2d 163 (1975)
between construction and design on the one hand, and occupancy and use on the
other. The local code is enforced by both a complaint-based system, and by a Fire
Certificate of Occupancy program that applies to commercial structures and to all
residential rental structures except owner-occupied, single-family homes and
owner-occupied duplexes. Like the purely residential rental license ordinances at
issue in the City ofMorris, the Fire Certificate of Occupancy program in the City
of Saint Paul requires periodic inspection of residential rental property to assure
compliance with local minimum housing standarqs.
The City of Saint Paul has adopted the state building code, Saint Paul
. Legislative Code 33.02,2 and the state fire code, Saint Paul Legislative Code 55.01. _. . .
These codes are applicable to new construction and design, and are enforced
through a system ofpermits and inspections. Saint Paul Legislative Code 33.03
(''No person shall construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish or change the
occupancy ofa building or structure without first obtaining a building permit ...").
2 For the convenience ofthe court and the parties, please note that the Saint Paul
Legislative Code may be found online at http://www.ci.stpaul.mn.us/code/.
2
Additionally, the City of Saint Paul adopted "Minimum Property
Maintenance Standards for All Structures and Premises." Saint Paul Legislative
Code 34.01, et seq. (hereinafter "Chapter 34"). The purpose ofthis ordinance is to
protect the public health, safety, and welfare in all structures and premises in Saint
Paul. The ordinance:
(1) Establishes minimum maintenance standards for all structures and
premises for basic-equipment and facilities for light, ventilation,
heating and sanitation; for safety from fIre; for crime prevention; for.
space, use and location; and for safe and sanitary maintenance of all
structures and premises.
.(2) Determines the responsibilities of owners, operators and occupants
ofall structures and premises.
(3) Provides for administration, enforcement and penalties.
(4) Promotes the stabilization and maintenance of structures and
premIses.
Saint Paul Legislative Code 34.01. In Saint Paul Legislative Code 34.02, the
- Council made the following express fmdings:
There exist in the city structures which are now or which may in the
. future. become substandard with respect to structure, equipment,
maintenance or energy efficiency. That such conditions, together with
inadequate provision for light and air, insufficient protection against
fIre hazards, lack ofproper heating, unsanitary conditions and
overcrowding, constitute a menace to public health, safety and welfare
of its citizens. It is further found and declared that the existence of
such conditions, factors or characteristics adversely affects public
health and safety and leans to the continuation, extension and
aggravation ofurban blight. It is further found that adequate
protection ofpublic health, safety and welfare, therefore, requires the
establishment and enforcement ofminimum property standards.
3
Consistent with state law, Chapter 34 "establishes minimum standards for
the occupancy of all structures and buildings and does not replace or modify
standards otherwise established for the construction, repair, ~lteration or use of
building equipment or facilities." Saint Paul Legislative Code 34.04. Rather than
creating construction standards, Cha.pter 34 establishes minimum exterior and
interior maintenance standards, establishes occupancy standards, establishes what
facilities (such as a kitchen and a ba,throom) are necessary for dwelling units. In
section 34.23, it authorizes city officials to declare a structure as unfit for
occupancy, and establishes a process for vacating the structure. Saint Paul
Legislative Code 34.23. Violations of Chapter 34 in some cases also form a basis
for subjecting a vacant property to registration (Saint Paul Legislative Code 43.02)
and subjecting a nuisance property to abatement (Saint Paul Legislative Code
45.02).
While, as noted above, the state building code is enforced through the
requirement of permits and inspections for the construction or alteration of
structures, the primary vehicle for enforcement of Chapter 34 is the inspections
required for a Fire Certificate of Occupancy, as required in Saint Paul Legislative
Code 40.01, et seq. All buildings, both residential and commercial, except owneroccupied,
single-family residences and duplexes, are required to have a Fire
4
Certificate of Occupancy. Saint Paul Legislative Code 40.01 and 40.02. To obtain
a Fire Certificate of Occupancy, an owner submits the property to periodic
inspection to certify compliance with the relevant city and state health and safety
codes, including the state building code, the state fIre code, and Chapter 34. Saint
Paul Legislative Code 40.04 -.07. It is illegal to occupy a structure without a Fire
.Certificate of Occupancy. Saint Paul Legislative Code 40.12.
II. THE NEED FOR LOCAL REGULATION IN THE CITY OF SAINT
PAUL
As a large city of the fIrst class, with a high number of rental properties, and
an aging building stock, the City of Saint Paul needs the ability to regulate the use
and occupancy of structures to address very real health and safety concerns.
.The City of Saint Paul, the capitol ofthe State, has a population of287,151
. as ofthe last census. According to that census, it has a lower median home value
than the state as a whole, and a higher percentage ofthe population below the
poverty line. The higher level ofpoverty means that many tenants lack the means
to enforce their statutory right to safe housing and so rely on the City to do this.
The City of Saint Paul has 115,713 housing units in about 53,000 residential
structures, plus about 3000 multi-unit residential structures. About 17,600
structures have Fire Certificates ofOccupancy. Ofthese about 13,100 are
residential. Census data shows that about 88% ofthe single-family, duplex and tri-
5
plex residential structures in Saint Paul were built prior to 1963. The median date
of construction for these structures is 1922. Thus, Saint Paul has a large number of
buildings and the over-whelming percentage ofresidential property was builtprior
to the adoption ofthe state building code.
As indicated above, the Council of the City of Saint Paul concluded that in
SaintPaul, substandard housing was and is a serious problem in need of a vigorous
response by government to protect the health and safety ofthe residents of Saint
Paul.
According to the Saint Paul Fire Marshal from September 1, 2006, to August
31, 2007, the fire inspectors in Saint Paul identified and ordered correction of
46,548 individual violations of state orlocal codes. Many properties, especially
those considered most dangerous, have multiple violations. Some violations are as
innocuous as failing to post the address ofthe owner on the premises. Many others
are potentially serious, such as the intentional disabling of smoke detectors and·the
improper installation or maintenance of electrical equipment. The sheer volume of
violations, along with the potential safety risks, is staggering.
This highlights the practical problem with Appellant's position. Suppose a
Saint Paul fire inspector discovers an unsafe electrical installation. According to
Appellant if this unsafe installation was allowed under a previous state code
6
L
provision, it must be allowed to remain. Appellant would only allow a city to
require the correction if the condition was created contrary to the then-existing
code. This often happens if remodeling was done without proper permits and
inspections. Appellant would require the fire inspectors to try to determine when
the installation was made, what the code was at that time, and also determine ifit
was later altered, and if it was, what the code was at the time ofthe alteration. On
the volume of cases in Saint Paul, this would be an unjustifiable administrative
burden. Further, if an owner did not take out a permit for an electrical installation,
unfortunately a common occurrence, the inspector has no way of determining when
the installation was made, and hence whether it complied with code at that time.
For example, years ago, when mostof Saint Paul's housing stock was built,
smoke detectors did not exist. Now, however, it is widely recognized that smoke
detectors make a significant contribution to public health and safety. According to
the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), a division ofthe Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA):
In 2003, fire departments responded to 388,500 home strUcture fIres in
the United States that claimed the lives of an estimated 3,145 people.
Working smoke alarms greatly reduce the likelihood of a residential
fIre-related fatal injury by providing occupants with early warning and
giving them additional time to escape.
7
Public/Private Fire Safety Council White Paper:. Home Smoke Alarms and Other
fire Detection andAlarm Equipment, http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/citizens/all
_citizenslhome_fire-prev/alarms/alarms_whitepaper.shtm. USFA also estimates
that 20% of installed smoke detectors are not operational, primarily due to missing
or dead batteries. Id. Thus, proper maintenance of smoke detectors likewise is a
matter of significance to public safety.
The City of Saint Paul recently experienced this first-hand. OnJune 19,
2006, a fire at 263 Sherburne, on old residence in Saint Paul, demonstrated the
tragic necessity for local regulation ofuse and occupation of structures. This
property, builtin 1900, was a three-story, four-unit building, subject to inspection
for a certificate of occupancy.
City inspectors notified the owner, Jose Perez of certificate of occupancy
inspection for 263 Sherburne for April 12, 2006. Mr. Perez did not appear, so
another notice was sent for an inspection on June 15,2006. He did not appear then
either. One ofthe requirements ofthe inspection was to provide an affidavit
establishing that all the smoke detectors on the property were working. The owner
failed to provide the affidavit as well.
On June 19,2006, a juvenile started a fire on a couch in unit number 4
which spread elsewhere in the structure. As a result ofthis fire, twenty-three-year-
8
L
old Julia Salgado died, another adult suffered critical burns, and six children were
injured, including two infants found unconscious at the scene. An inspection after
the fire determined that the smoke detectors were not working. It was also
discovered that unit 4, where the fire occurred, was over-occupied,and that there
was an illegal fifth unit that lacked adequate egress. The owner was later convicted
ofmultiple code violations and was sentenced to serve 20 days in the workhouse.
Working smoke detectors, and also compliance of occupancy limits and
. egress requirements, could have made a difference in this matter. This tragedy
shows that deficient structures pose real safety threats. The City of Saint Paul,
even with a vigorous enforcement effort, will not get every structure in to full
compliance with Chapter 34. However, substandard housing will proliferate if, as
Appellant's argue, the state building code pre-empts City enforcement efforts,
certainly putting more residents at risk oftragedy.
In addition to the Fire Certificate of Occupancy program, the City of Saint
Paul enforces Chapter 34 through the Code Enforcement.division ofthe
Department of Safety and Inspections. The Code Enforcement division operates
on a complaint basis; that is inspections are conducted in response to complaint. '
They inspect both rental and owner-occupied properties, and also operate the
vacant building program and the ~uisance abatement program. Their records show
9
they conducted 50,319 inspections between September 1,2006, and August 31,
2007. The majority of deficiencies found involve sanitation issues such as garbage
and weed accumulation. However a substantial number, 925, involved a lack of
basic facilities. In this context "basic facilities" refers to things like sinks, tubs,
sewer drainage, and heating equipment. See Saint Paul Legislative Code 34.11.
These inspections, if serious deficiencies are found, can lead to an order to
vacate the property because it is unfit for human habitation. In these extreme
cases, the property constitutes a material endangerment to the health or safety of
the occupants. See Saint Paul Legislative Code 34.23. City records show that in
.2006 the inspectors condemned 470 structures because they were unfit for human
habitation. So far in 2007, the City of Saint Paul has demolished 20 nuisance
properties. Demolition is the last resort for nuisance structures that are so
dilapidated, so dangerous, and so far out of code compliance that it is uneconomic
for anyone to repair them..
The picture that emerges when all ofthese facts are considered is that too
many property owners, especially landlords, either cannot or will not spend the
money necessary to maintain their property in a safe and healthy way. Unless
required to do so by the City, many properties will not meet minimum health and
10
L
safety standards, causing real harm to people, especially the most vulnerable
people like children and the poor.
III. CONCLUSION
The City of Saint Paul, like other large Minnesota cities with older housing
stock, faces a substantial challenge to address substandard structures. They can be
a blighting influence and one ofthe single largest obstacles to a good quality of life
for the neighbors and residents. Cities need the tools to address this challenge with
local code enforcement and rental inspections. This attack by Appellant on local
authority threatens to diminish, or even eliminate, thetools cities need.
Amicus City of Saint Paul agrees with position and arguments of the
Respondent City ofMorris that local regulation of use and occupancy is not preempted
by state law. It has enacted a maintenance code, Chapter 34; and an
enforcement mechanism, the Fire Certificate of Occupancy, to advance its policy
of protecting the health and safety of residents by establishing minimum property ;.'
standards and making owners responsible for their properties. These standards are
critically necessary to Saint Paul with its large stock of older structures.
Substandard housing not only blights neighborhoods, whichwould be reason
enough to establish minimum maintenance standards, it can be life threatening. In
11
fact, in Saint Paul as recently as 2006 life was lost to fITe where smoke detectors
were not kept in working order.
For these reasons, Amicus City of Saint Paul respectfully requests the Court
to afftrm the decision ofthe Court ofAppeals.
;L
Date: September 25, 2007 JOHN J. CHOI
City Attorney
~c4.LVZ~·
G D T. HENDRICKSON (#43977)
Deputy City Attorney
400 City Hall
15 West Kellogg Boulevard
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101
651-266-8710
Attorneysfor Amicus Curiae

2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the city will be redefining what a public health issue is Chuck!

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Jeff Matiatos said...

I will give you all a creative way of dealing with this disconnection of electric and water issue to fend off code enforcement.


Pull out the ol gas operated 115 volt generator and get some bottled water.

Tell the legislative hearing officer ( if they will even listen to you ) that you had other sources of water and electric and I piss on a tree and shit in a public restroom and shower at the public swimming pool after my swim.




Jeff Matiatos

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Jeff Matiatos said...

Oh,shower before I swim.
That would be a public health issue if I didn't.




Jeff Matiatos

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But Jeff....how do we know you won't piss in the pool when you do swim? If you do that could be a public health issue.....especially if you have a few friends along that do the same. For this reason, I think all the pools should be closed permantly.

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Jeff Matiatos said...

Are you cutting on me or missing the point ?






Jeff Matiatos

5:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pigeons are deficating on the sidewalks. This should keep the inspections department busy.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not cutting on you Jeff or missing the point wither.....just trying to inject some humor with a point you have missed.

The city is so worried about the peoples saftey with respect to what "might" happen that we have these out of control code inspectors who can make an issue out of anything they want if the city had an agenda agaisnt someone.

The pissing in the pool is something that happens all the time and IT IS a health hazard. Following the citys logic toward eberything else connected to lanldords, the smoking ban, etc. I think they should close the pools.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Jeff Matiatos said...

Thanks for clearing that up.
Headed out to the Twins game.






Jeff Matiatos

6:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to news reports, the United States will have to change its currency because the blind can't read it and can't tell the difference in denominations.
This according to a Federal Appeals Court.
Lets get St.Paul to put out toilets for the homeless and those landlords who get put out.

7:16 PM  
Blogger Nancy Lazaryan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At 1:56 PM Chuck wrote “If it no longer has water and electric its just a pile of wood.” Precisely what part of the state building code did you get that rule from? Or are you arguing that a building without electricity and water is “dangerous to human life” – the sole exception the State Supreme Court gave? And if you believe such a building is dangerous, then isn’t every garage in St. Paul “dangerous?”

Actually, I think you hit the problem. The city has made and applied rules that they have no legal right to make.

Using the LAW as defined by the State Supreme Court, can anyone post a justification for the hundreds (thousands?) of “code compliance” requirements St. Paul has issued? When can St. Paul issue such a requirement? Can some city person anonymously post the justification here? Anyone?

I have spent over $200,000 doing code compliances.

Bill Cullen.

P.S. I spoke with Mike Sax yesterday. Great guy. Balls of steel for fighting city hall. We owe him a lot.

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only public nuisance is the City Council. Just like Joseph McCarthy.

9:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The newspaper story said Sax made the comment that city officals in Morris just did what they wanted and that's been the problem with St Paul. They have acted illegaly towards landlords for decades, but they did it to the right landlords who really were slumlords and who refused to fix their property. Just like Morris, MN., St Paul has done this for so long that they don't think they're violating the law any more, thus the BS feom people like Repke. They think they are the law and what they say is the law, and as long as no one will spend the money to sue, they get away with it. Now as in Morris, they picked the worng bunvh of guys to start a fight with and they have an opponent who's going to finish that fight for them. If picking a fight with the ricomen isn't bad enough they then go after Nancy L who looks to be giving them a run for their money. I can't figure out when they get into these scraps with landlords who dig in their heals over "what's right" why they don't just move on the next coward who refuses to fight. The city is full of them. But maybe the city likes to fight. No cost to them, the taxpayers fund it all through increased property taxes while liars like Kathy Lantry tell us there's no spending problem but there's a revenue problem. Maybe if you stopped running the city in a way that got you sued every other day Kathy you wouldn't have a revenue problem but more revenue to spend!

11:50 PM  
Anonymous city snitch said...

"When can St. Paul issue such a requirement? Can some city person anonymously post the justification here? Anyone?"

There was no justification when this tool was being used during the Kelly years. St. Paul did not have a provision for using it in Chapter 34 and only a few inspectors ever required it. The city did not add this to the code until after they were sued by the landlords.

1:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure St. Paul was requiring code compliance before Kelly was elected. Code compliance requirements have been around for a while.

Has St. Paul never had a right to required code compliance?

Bill Cullen.

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill we also owe thanks to all the landlords who are standing up to St.Paul. Its been a long battle but I believe they are standing up for the same types of reason this guy in Saxs did.

8:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill we also owe thanks to all the landlords who are standing up to St.Paul. Its been a long battle but I believe they are standing up for the same types of reason this guy in Saxs did.

8:15 AM  
Anonymous snitch said...

You are correct Bill in that the code compliances have been around for a while. They have been around since the early 90's, but used mostly to bring vacant buildings into compliance with the code. They were not being used as an every day part of code enforcement operations in the routine inspection of occupied property or property that just had condemnation status. This part of it started with Kelly and Dawkins in thier efforts to clean up the city.

More later, have to get to work now.

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck has been very quite.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK 9:23, that makes sense to me. Code compliance has always been around, but under Dawkins/Kelly was abused.

From what I hear, the landlord groups and the municipalities are all trying to understand this ruling and what it means.

I am still looking for St. Paul's right to ever require a code compliance. ANYONE?

Bill Cullen.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know whether code compliances are legally justified, but my Dad found them extremely punitive.

Bob G

6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

15 years ago there was an inspector named Don Wagner who told me that the citys purpose in teh code compliance was to require the landlord to spend so much money on the property that he would not rent to certain types of people in the future.

6:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don W was a good guy. He just retired 6 or 7 years ago.

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill,

Read the ruling again there is nothing in there that says that the City can't enforce the state building code. That is what they do. The City enforces the code and basic health standards, that's it.

I still haven't seen from any of you what is in chapter 34 that isn't a part of the building code.

The court's ruling is that you can't do additional building codes.

JMONTOMEPPOF

Chuck Repke

11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you stupid or waht Repke? Read the ruling it tells you what they cannot do. And while your learning to read, tell me where the building code says they can require code compliance certification. They can't you idiot. The owner gets to maintain the property under the code it was built under.....a non conforming use occupancy.

2:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:16 ...and how do we know that my building is up to the 1887 code?

Come on folks. The State did not say that the City could not inspect the buildings. It said that you can not have a building code that is different than the state's. Certificates of Occupancy will still be required. Nothing changed there at all.

Yes, the City can not make you tear out a wall to install new plumbing in an occupied building, but if you have ripped open a wall and are installing new plumbing you have to put it in to code.

And the state said that you can still maintain health safety issues. So, the City can still write you up for rodent infestation and holes in your windows and on and on and on...

Nothing in this ruling ends any of that.

Again, one of you City haters, please give me the section in Chapter 34 for that you think is out of step with this ruling and creates a code seperate from the states.

JMONTOMEPPOF

Chuck Repke

9:09 AM  
Blogger Sharon 4Anderson said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sharon, I usually don't read your posts as they make no sense. But, the beginning of this post mentions me.

What the hell are you talking about when you accuse me of "covertly tried to Steal Sharon Property, via Ugly Houses Cullen gave up". Preposterous. I never had any interest in your building except when YOU offerred to sell it to me.

But, I just want to follow your logic... I was going to "steal" your property "via ugly houses." Right? How, does that work? I need a good laugh.

Good lord help us.

Bill Cullen.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Sharon

I just saw a city official driving the car they stole from you. They were heading up W 7th towaqrd the airport.

4:35 PM  
Blogger Nancy Lazaryan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nancy,

Some of those city folks think they are God. All us real friends of St. Paul are pulling for you.

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

St. Paul doesn't respect antyhing, much less the law. That's very obvious by the City Attorneys statememnt that they can enfroce anything they want to and it doesn't make any difference if it's in the State Building Code or not. I also saw the meeting and it's now very obvious that they really do believe they are above the law. We're all praying ofr you Nancy.....go get em!

10:53 PM  
Blogger Nancy Lazaryan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think everyone who has had their property vandalized because the city saw fit to mark it with their placards as "vacant and available" for thieves has c claim against the city of St. Paul. Bring in the lawyers and let the fun begin. Are you listneing Lantry?

12:21 AM  

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