"...Ordinance 1287 is the proposed Parking / Landscaping Ordinance..."

Ordinance 1287 Before Changes

Ordinance 1287 Memo With Changes

Ordinance 1287 Fence Both Sides

Ordinance 1287 Gunson Fences

509 Division Parking Ordinance landscape estimate



Those of you not familiar, Ordinance 1287 is the proposed Parking/Landscaping Ordinance currently at the Planning Commission level. In summary, the ordinance calls for screening on both sides of a driveway, fencing or landscaping beds, front lot line to back lot line, as well as additional trees planted in the yard. Originally, this ordinance was to apply to all properties with 5 or more parking spots, homeowners included. Seeing what an unjust ordinance this was to ALL property owners, the landlords attempted to shed some light on some of the unintended consequences this ordinance could have.
Upon presenting our points to staff the wording of the ordinance promptly changed. The current version states that the requirements only apply to those property owners REQUIRED to provide 4 or more parking spots. Required is the key word. This removes all unlicensed homes, non-rentals, from having to abide by the ordinance. Not only that, but spots in the driveway are counted towards the 4 spots.

I realize most people are not sympathetic to the burdens placed on landlords or the blatant discriminatory nature of such a change. Sympathy is not my intention. My hope is to bring some of the negative aspects of this ordinance such as the potential look and safety concerns to the attention of the public. Hopefully the public will realize that regardless of whether you are required to make these changes, you will undoubtedly be affected by them.

I've included the March 21st version of the ordinance along with a memo detailing the changes to the ordinance, see page 24 of the attachment for the landscaping requirements I am referencing.

I have also attached a couple images of what a large portion of our City could potentially look like if ordinance 1287 passes.

Lastly, I included the potential cost breakdown for meeting the ordinance requirements on a very common lot at 509 Division.

The City may argue that a fence is not the only option, large 8' landscaping beds could be used instead, but when considering the cost of a landscaping bed and the upkeep that goes along with that, most will choose to put up a fence. Additionally, most lots in the City do not have more than 8' on both sides of the driveway to accommodate such a thing.

As required, both sides of the driveway must be screened. Seeing as these fences will be extremely close to both sides of the driveway and start at the sidewalk, you can image the damage that will occur from both getting in and out of the car as well as drunk people walking by.

Furthermore, as you can see from the images; owners are free to choose what type of fence and what color to paint/stain it. So it is realistic to think you could have 10 different fences, many with peeling paint and broken boards, on one street.
Again, the City always has an argument to the contrary. The fencing must be maintained, etc. The reality again, is that even if you get written up for peeling paint, if the violation occurs in the winter you won't have to repaint it until it's warm so you will still have peeling paint for half the year. We all know what something looks like after it's been scraped and painted 15 times too so it won't matter if you are written up every year, this will be an ongoing issue.

If you need examples of what I am talking about just drive down Burcham. You can see the new boards mixed with old boards, the damaged sections, etc. These are permanent residences not rentals. Go by Grove and Elizabeth to see what a fence will look like in a primarily rental area. This is the unfortunate reality of what can and will happen.

We have spent considerable time trying to get the word out about the obvious discriminatory nature of this ordinance and the extremely high cost of meeting the requirements, but there are other concerns the public should have about this ordinance.

Since staff and certain residents have made it clear they "don't care about our (landlords) pocket books", maybe they will care about the potential look of the City if this ordinance is implemented. I doubt permanent residents want to see more peeling paint and dead bushes. If implemented you are not going to get a bunch of white picket fences or finely groomed hedges. When you force a property owner to spend thousands of extra dollars when he or she just wants to repave their driveway you are going to get an angry owner that is going to do the bare minimum, it will look absolutely terrible and it will be an ongoing eyesore. Keep in mind, there are rentals in every neighborhood. They are not just concentrated to the downtown or the Gunson area. You will see the effects of this ordinance in your neighborhood, on the way to school, on main roads and anywhere else there is a rental property.

The City talks about improving the older housing stock, but then when a landlord wants to make an improvement like repaving the driveway, they are hit with thousands of dollars in extra cost just to meet a short sighted ordinance.

Another point that hasn't been stressed is safety - for walkers, bikers, skateboarders, people delivering food or mail, etc. If fences or bushes are placed all the way to the sidewalk on both sides of the drive this will be a major safety concern due to lack of visibility. A realistic example; we have 5 houses in a row on Lexington, 2 blocks from Marble Elementary. If a fence or even a landscaping bed was placed on either side of the driveway at all of these houses there is no question the kids walking to and from school would be put in danger on a regular basis. There are rentals up and down many of the streets leading to our schools, is this major safety concern really worth the proposed benefits of this ordinance?

If you box people in like bumper bowling lanes you are going to have people parking over the sidewalk so they can get in and out of their car or more realistically you are going to have exponentially more people parking in the street. This also creates visibility concerns.

The City talks about have a "walkable" and "bikeable" community; how safe would you feel riding your bike or walking your family down a sidewalk where you have fences and large plants blocking drivers view? Consider the drivers we are referring to as well. Since the City is making this a rental-specific ordinance, this will be obstructing the view of primarily student drivers and delivery vehicles that cater to them.

To get an accurate perspective I would encourage those of you who are in favor of this ordinance or are on the "fence" (no pun intended) to drive down the 500 block of Lexington or the 100 block of Gunson. Pull in and out of a few driveways. Try and visualize what it would be like to pull in and out with obstructions all along the street. Picture your kids walking or yourself biking down the road hoping the car that is halfway out of their driveway is going to see you and stop. In addition, drive by some homes with fences in primarily student areas and see how they are holding up. Would you want to look out your window and see 3-4 or more of those fences on your street?

At the end of the day our goal is to make as many people aware of this ordinances obvious flaws. From the discriminatory nature, the cost, the eyesore it will create and of course the dangers in creates.

Some people who may ultimately read this may disagree with certain aspects or opinions, but I think it is clear that this ordinance is a long way from acceptable and the concerns addressed here need serious consideration before moving forward. I would encourage you to email staff, Planning Commission, and Council to voice your concerns as we have done and will continue to do. Also, Planning Commission will be discussing this ordinance at their upcoming meeting this Wednesday at 7pm at City Hall.

Lastly; it's important to know that while I am a landlord, I also live in East Lansing (have my whole life), I went to school here and I have kids who go to East Lansing schools. This is more than just a landlord issue.

Thank you,
Brian Hagan
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