I was heading to the locker room in the gym at 6 a.m. when the phone in my pocket rang. “Sorry, I didn’t want to wake you up,” Bernie-the-cabdriver said. “I was just going to leave a message.” The message was good news: South St. Paul had passed some amendments to the city’s rental ordinance, but not the per-block restrictions on rentals that had been proposed.
Bernie had called in January to tell me about what he considered a bad law in the making:
Along with other changes, the South St. Paul city council plans to limit rental housing to one house per block. That, says Bernie, is just not right.
The city council wants to keep out renters, so the proposal says only one single family home per block could be rented. All others would have to be owner-occupied.
“It’s kind of like somebody made a speech that said, ‘All them there renters, they’re all a bunch of bad people,’” Bernie said. “Well, jumpin’ jiminy! It’s so sad! It’s prejudice in its purest form.”
There’s an old reporting maxim that advises: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” So I did my due diligence and checked the South St. Paul city website. Sure enough, the per-block rental restrictions have been stricken from the amendment passed by the council on Monday.
Thanks to Bernie for the update!