Kapell: Rental Code Will Be ‘Severe Hardship’ on Immigrant Population

Former Greenport mayor and others in the village disapprove of proposed rental regulations put forth by the village board.

Members of the heard feedback from the public Monday night on a new law proposed to tighten regulations on rental units — a law created in order to prevent potentially dangerous situations from overcrowding, according to village trustees.

But the proposed law as it is now written at 20 pages in length is overbearing and dangerous in itself, said former Greenport Mayor Dave Kapell at Monday’s public hearing.

“With all due respect, whoever drafted this law did not realize how much of a severe hardship this would be on our immigrant population,” Kapell said. “I’m sure that this is not intended to be bad, but ultimately, this is deciding who gets to live in Greenport and who does not — but in reality different human beings come here to make a living and hold up our community, and this cuts into the very character of the village."

The proposed law as written dictates how many people can live in a rental property. Landlords will have to pay $100 for new permits and renewals and will have to provide the village with a list of their tenants.

Other requirements of landlords under the proposed law include a floor plan to be provided to the village depicting the location and size of each bedroom and the proposed number of occupant per bedroom. Landlords must also designate whether their rental units are seasonal, transient or temporary dwellings. Another section of the proposed law addresses families:

"Evidence that more than five persons living in a single dwelling unit who are not related by blood, marriage or legal custody shall create a rebuttable assumption that such persons do not constitute the functional equivalent of a traditional family," reads the proposed law.

“You’re trying to define what a traditional family is here — even the federal government has no right to do that,” Kapell said. “There are 400 rental units in town — this law is a burden on all of them.”

Village Trustee Dave Murray said that he pushed for this proposed law for one main reason — the safety of the tenants.

“I’ve been in some dwellings where more things are plugged into one electrical socket than you can shake a stick at,” he said. “You talk about how many would be displaced by this law, but how many are safe without it? I’m not saying this is written perfectly, but when you’ve got 30 people living in one dwelling, that is a safety issue.”

Greenport Mayor David Nyce was not in attendance at the public hearing, but trustee George Hubbard explained that without rental regulations in the code, village building inspectors cannot inspect a questionable property without permission from the land owner.

“We get numerous calls for emergencies and regular complaints from the fire chief, situations where they can barely get a stretcher through a hallway and out of a house,” Hubbard said. “If we write this into law, the situation at least can be reviewed by a building inspector. As it stands, the building department can't just walk into a place on the assumption that there are 30 people living there.”

Former mayor Kapell said that a meeting with the town police chief and justice should give the village the means to get a court order to inspect a handful of problem cases. Resident Eileen Kapell agreed that the proposed law is too much of a heavy-handed solution to what she sees as a small problem in the village.

“If there are a few problems in town, someone has to take the lead and get on these landlords’ butts,” she said.

Village board members decided to keep the public hearing open and send the draft law back to the code committee for reworking.

See attached PDF of the proposed rental regulations law.

hdhouse July 24, 2012 at 11:06 AM
Outside the defining what constitutes a 'traditional family' (talk about a slippery slope), those who want to crowd a rental area will find a way to do so, law or no law, regardless of what they say publically or file with the Village. Inspection at will seems to be the appropriate answer rather than an entirely new or built out Village department to handle all the filing requirements.
forward thinking July 24, 2012 at 11:32 AM
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Michael Edelson July 24, 2012 at 02:04 PM
If we pull intoxicated and unlicensed drivers off the road as a measure of our own self-protection, what’s wrong with keeping unsanitary overcrowding, potential fires and other hazards under control also for our own protection? Greedy, uncaring landlords and others in real estate taking advantage of underprivileged people do not need any protection whatsoever. Sock it to them!
Peggy Richards July 24, 2012 at 02:10 PM
this law is long needed. The definition of family he questioned, he well knows is already IN village code. Most of the provisions cited are already in village or state code. This is just a mechanism for enforcement. Of course Kapell does not like it - his own building is violating code but the building dept he hired works with him to get past code. I am sure he is speaking for many of his clients too. Eileen does not want to do her job NOW, of course she objects. It is far from a 'few' small problems. Stick to your guns Dave Murray!!!!!!
Celia Alfano July 24, 2012 at 02:45 PM
I don't believe it matters if you have 2 or 10 tenants, even one individual can overload a socket, safety eduction is the key. The government should be making the landlords responsible for seeing to it that the homes are to fire code, maintained and monitored. Let the landlords deal with the number of tenants they rent to. My grandmother was a farmer and had 15 siblings, they all shared a small space back in the day, no one told them how many people could dwell in the home.
GLENN July 24, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Terrible landlords that want to make money.
RH Rogers July 24, 2012 at 02:59 PM
I you don't put a mechanism in place such as this, the next thing we will have is a beautiful village and surounding areas becoming delapidated under the pretext of we should, therefore, close one eye and give away protections that lawful residents have enjoyed and deserve. Not a satellite of the Bronx. RH Rogers
William Swiskey sr July 24, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Rental regulations are in place all over and work. The trouble with this one is it was written by a complete idiot. The village needs a new attorney, this guy can't seem to get anything right. A code of less then three pages coupled with the exsisting laws would work.
Chris McManus July 24, 2012 at 04:12 PM
How is it legal in the United States that a local government can decide who lives in a household? Greenport Village is going to test blood to see who is family? The board has no authority to decide what constitutes a family! What about adoptees, foster children? This law is very disturbing and in my opinion violates basic rights. Let's not take away basic rights for all citizens of Greenport under the guise of public safety. Or is this not about public safety at all? Makes me wonder ...
Chris McManus July 24, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Well put! The issue is making sure buildings are up to fire code, not demanding paternity tests to make sure people who live in a home are related by blood.
joe insider July 24, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Actually The Uniform Building Code of New York State already defines a family and a boarding house. Prof Edelson is right. This may very well be a good thing for people who are vulnerable and exploited by landlords who look to make as much as they can by putting too many people in too small a space and sometimes that space isn't suitable for one, let alone ten or more...
Chris McManus July 24, 2012 at 05:46 PM
There are also laws on the book that fine men $25 for flirting with women by 'turning around and giving them that look.' Not sure which town still has the ban on baked beans on Saturday night or no bath on Sunday. There are literally volumes of outdated laws, many of which go against Constitutional rights. I'm not advocating a situation that allows landlords to abuse the system. But there is a better way to address this than allowing Greenport or New York State to define family. Further, if everyone in a household were to be related by blood, would that allow a large number to live in a small dwelling? That hardly makes sense. Related or not, too many people in a building create a hazard.
Eva June Roberts-Vazquez July 24, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Is this going to apply to large homes and estates as well?? Lower income homeowners don't have driveways hidden by gates and landscaping so that others are aware of multiple residents living there. I believe this type of code is illegal under color of law, and it mirrors the code created in Riverhead, created in 2006, around the same time the person involved in many evictions in Brookhaven came to work for the town, if I remember correctly.See my letter to the editior of that publication. There are many crowded living situations. LI is a desireable place & so the price of rent & houses skyrockets beyond what many can afford. Towns can pass codes, but "it's not their responsibility" supposedly to address the fact that many cannot afford the rents & mortgages. We need to change these codes, increase accessory apartments, increase two family houses, What are the solutions? It's not a question of just immigrants. There are many homeowners who rent out rooms. What codes are you going to create so that there are affordable options for people? Often mobile homes are ruled out by codes, restrictions on lot size makes ownership of houses on smaller plots impossible. "Senior Only" developments make it hard for people with kids. Many people don't get a living wage, don't get health insurance through employers. Want people to live in uncrowded conditions? How about a town code that says employers have to pay living wages and provide health insurance. Youi can't have it both ways!
forward thinking July 24, 2012 at 09:22 PM
have an occupancy tax --- it may be the only way to get any tax from some
Eileen Kapell July 25, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Hey Peggy If you have proof of violations in our building then put up or SHUT UP! I don't like you either but I don't go around spreading malicious rumors about you. Maybe it's time you take a long hard look at your own property instead of taking potshots at others.
joe insider July 25, 2012 at 03:38 AM
You say that you are" not advocating a situation that allows landlords to abuse the system. but there is a better way to address this..." See, that is the problem-you do not advocate anything. you merely criticize others who try. People who preach from a soap box offer society nothing. People who get involved and try to understand the issue are the ones who make a difference in people's lives. Simply being smug and sanctimonious doesn't make one a good or caring person. Quite the opposite, it makes them content in their own sense of self-righteousness and, as such, makes them preoccupied with themselves and not with the very people they pretend to advocate for.
joe insider July 25, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Greenport is a "Village" not a "Town". It already has some of the most permissive housing codes in Suffolk County. Yes rents are high but the current lack of oversight makes them even higher. Think about it, a landlord can make 4 to 5 grand a month or more by charging 10 to 12 guys 100 a week each. The 100 a week is marginally affordable to the laborer but he pays it. ( other coworkers find themselves in the same situation and they also pay it. the house is small but they manage). The landlord is collecting 4 or 5 grand in rent (cash!) for a small house that, if rented on the open market would be able to be rented for 1500 to 2000. You have 10 to12 workers all paying 4 to almost 5 grand to live cramped in a house that, at market rent, only 4 or 5 would need to live in to pay the same cost per person. You see these landlords, if allowed to continue, make the rental costs higher and the situation worse, not better.
Chris McManus July 25, 2012 at 04:53 AM
Thanks for that little diatribe 'joe insider.' Interestingly enough, you get on the soap box yourself and do quite well I might add. But sadly you hide behind an anonymous moniker, whereas I use my real name. Interesting. What's also interesting is your angry and dare I say 'sanctimonious' tone. Here's my solution. Landlords are responsible for keeping buildings up to code. I don't mind random inspections. And if Greenport Village, Southold Township, Suffolk County, New York State or the United States federal government is to pass a law intended to define the legal limit of inhabitants in a dwelling, let it be based solely on the number of people and not bloodline. 20 relatives living in a small space are not any safer than 20 who aren't related. Basing this on bloodline is primitive, meant to intimidate target ethnic groups, is unfair to non-conventional families. If our laws are to be fair, then let's be fair to all. I hear-by relinquish the soap box back to you Mr. Insider.
John July 25, 2012 at 11:06 AM
You do know that there are less than perfect tenants too, right?
Gary M Charters July 25, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Let's just step back and think about this, there are already enough sections of the village code that can be enforced concerning these issues. LET'S ENFORCE WHAT'S ON THE BOOKS ALREADY!
JTaddeustoad August 02, 2012 at 01:41 PM
The absurdity of kappels' argument is laughable ,however,understanding his progressive posture it is to be expected.... What was omitted in this account is the fact that the imigrants refered to here are by virtue of majority here illegally.... The north fork has become a sanctuary and the financial burden of this phenomonon is starting to show up in our increased erollment in our schools as well as the expansion of our welfare programs .... WHY ????? are we the tax payer being burdened by the feel good nonsense of the likes of the Kappels...
JTaddeustoad August 02, 2012 at 01:49 PM
EVA ... Right you are ... The profiteering landlords who probably live out of town are the beneficiaries of these dangerouds condition .... An IRS audit of these folks could prove to be interesting...
Peggy Richards August 08, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Eileen - I can and have proved it - Eileen Wingate did not do her job when she let you make changes without variances.
Peggy Richards August 08, 2012 at 09:35 PM
go Bill
Peggy Richards August 08, 2012 at 09:35 PM
the law already exists and is necessary and is common in many many other jurisdcitions!
Peggy Richards August 08, 2012 at 09:38 PM
and the overburdening of our SEWER SYSTEM!!!!!!!!!
Kenneth Mac Alpin August 13, 2012 at 04:52 PM
do any of the kapells ever tell the truth?
John August 13, 2012 at 05:14 PM
If you would think back you would remember that it was the current Mayor David Nyce who after the ICE raid declared Greenport a "sanctuary city".


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