Big names are the biggest violators

I’m not going to get overly worked up about Greensboro’s top 10 housing code violators who saw their names pasted on the front page of today’s N&R.  Truth is, housing inspectors could visit your house and probably come up with a dozen or so problems.

Got a leaky faucet?:  Violation.  Electrical outlet cover cracked?: Ditto.  Paint peeling on your eaves?: They’ll write you up.  Foundation got a crack in it?: The city will be a part of your life until it is repaired to their satisfaction.

But still… it’s the prominent names attached to the top ten code violators that makes reporter Margaret Banks’ report such a compelling read.

County Commissioner Skip Alston debuts at #3.  He’d better get his houses in order lest someone brand him a slumlord who preys on the disadvantaged before the next election.

Len White, a managing partner of the Greensboro Grasshoppers, has his name attached to the #2 spot.  It might be wise of him to consider spending a couple of thousand dollars correcting some code violations on his rental properties before he and his investment group ups their $1.7M offer (N&R) for county property that is situated across the street from his ‘Hopper’s baseball stadium.

No big surprise at #1: the vile and notorious Bill Agapion.  My suggestion to him is that he ought to stop blaming the city for everything and get busy fixing or selling his property to avoid going to hell.  I have a very low opinion of that man.

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9 Comments

  1. Posted September 28, 2006 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Hogg, I’m a little confused — you point out that many violations of code are not big deals in and of themselves, but you also indicate that this is a serious story about substandard housing, or at least about big names. Clearly some of the violations listed in the article are not just leaky faucets, we’re looking at holes in roofs etc. Where do too-high standards end and unfit conditions begin? And how should a layman view the report in the paper — as gossip about big names, or a call to action on bad housing? thnx

  2. David Wharton
    Posted September 28, 2006 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    The N&R article made no mention of the RUCO (Rental Unit Certificate of Occupancy) ordinance that was supposed to fix, or at least address, the problem of substandard rental property. Clearly, RUCO isn’t working. If I were a reporter, I would by asking why not, and why volunteer groups like the Greensboro Housing Coalition are so much more effective at identifying housing problems than is the city. (One reason: the city doesn’t have enough inspectors.)

  3. Posted September 28, 2006 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Excellent blog! I have a suggestion. Perhaps you could blog a few stories on true conservative politicians in
    NC. For example, a brief profile of NC State Sen. Fred Smith who’s running for reelection in November. I’m certain you’ll agree he’s the caliber of leader we want in national and local politics.

  4. Margaret Banks
    Posted September 28, 2006 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    Back on to the REAL subject … David Wharton, you make a good point about looking at how RUCO impacts these types of violations. I plan on checking into that in the near future.

  5. Tom Phillips
    Posted September 28, 2006 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    David W, The requirement for a RUCO certificate does not become effective until July 1, 2007. The inspections department will tell you the process is working.

  6. Posted September 28, 2006 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Nathan… go away.

    Ed… My point is that a rental unit can be in violation for a very minor infraction. What the pictures show is, of course, bad. But a unit can be in violation for a leaky faucet.

    I just stands to reason that the more rental units a company owns or manages (especially if they have some age on them) the more violations a company will likely accrue.

    I don’t know White’s properties or track record, but I don’t think he and his company can be compared to Agapion’s mess. But they were, and I thought that made for an interesting read.

    As for Alston. The picture was of a boarded up property (likely a duplex – aka 2 units in violation). Sure its an eyesore and needs to be cleaned up, fixed up… or torn down (doesn’t look old or historic to me). How many properties does Alston manage? Margaret, do you know? Let’s say 50 units. And 15 of them have violations – any of them for a broken recepticle cover?.

    My point that those violations could be somewhat less severe than the photos or the selected interviews let on. We are led to believe, because they are mentioned in the same article as Agapion, that the nine ‘also-ran’ companies are vying to be in the same league as Agapion. I doubt that is true.

    I’m not letting anyone off the hook… Its just that there are different severities of violation of the building code. Your house has them, I could find one I promise… but don’t let a city inspector search for them.

    I just thought the three big names listed on A-1 made the story interesting to me – (can you tell me without looking who the other seven were?)

    As to you question… without specific violations and some sense of an owners track record in maintaining substandard housing… to me, the article was more about big name gossip than code violation substance/call to action.

    Sorry Margaret.

  7. Posted September 29, 2006 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    A related issue is the record each landlord has of responding quickly and appropriately (or not) to citations. I sat through a housing-commission earlier this year that was quite instructive in that regard, particularly w/r/t Mr. Agapion. He distinguished himself … and not in a good way.

  8. David Wharton
    Posted September 30, 2006 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Tom, I know the inspectors are working hard. I don’t think the system is working particularly well, though. I’d be interested in your thoughts, because you’ve paid more attention to this issue than most, and have access to the inner workings of the staff that we don’t. Do you think it’s working? Do you think it will work when RUCO (finally) starts to kick in?

    And now, for a kind word for Bill Agapion. He was brought before the Historic Preservation Commission because one of his properties in Fisher Park ran afoul of the Ordinance to Prevent Demolition by Neglect. He worked out a preservation plan with staff and fixed up his property quite well.

  9. Posted October 1, 2006 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

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One Trackback

  1. By David Boyd on September 28, 2006 at 1:22 pm

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