Public Affairs Committee discusses rental code, police advisory committee

The Bemidji City Council will tentatively hold a listening session-type public hearing on Monday, Aug. 10, at the Sanford Event Center.

During Monday’s Public Affairs Committee, which hosts three members of the current five-member city council, the committee discussed the rental code and the police advisory commission currently in the works.

During the discussion around police advisory, members expressed that public input would be essential, especially when racial equity would be an important facet of the advisory board.

Ward 1 Council Member Michael Meehlhause.

Chief of Police Mike Mastin expressed his support of an advisory board, and he and City Manager Nate Mathews have been exploring models of such advisory boards across the state.

Chief of Police Mike Mastin.

The concept, scope and other elements of the police advisory board will likely not be set until after the public hearing, where more input can be gathered.

Input can be submitted to City Clerk Michelle Miller amid the virtual meetings. More information on the council and how to contact them is available on the city’s website.

The PAC also discussed the rental code, and how the “strike” process works. The “strike” system was put in place in 2012, with the intention of crime free housing.

Certain legal transgressions at a property, such as disorderly conduct, can result in the rental property receiving a strike. The transgressions much reach a certain threshold to become a strike. At strike two, the landlord must present a plan to prevent further strikes from occurring at that property. At strike three, the landlord may lose their rental license.

Ward 4 Council Member Emilie Rivera expressed her concern about the policy, especially for marginalized groups.

Ward 4 Council Member Emilie Rivera.

The rental code will likely be taken up again during a Bemidji City Council work session, either on Aug. 10 or after the victor in the Ward 2 special election is sworn in on Aug. 17.


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