PORT RICHEY — In a narrow vote, Port Richey took another step toward enacting an ordinance that will create minimum housing standards in the city.
Port Richey City Council members approved in a split vote last week the first reading of an ordinance dubbed "Minimum Standards for Residential Dwellings", which mandates a series of requirements for residences, such as working plumbing, fire protection and electric service. The ordinance also deals with upkeep of exterior walls, windows, roofs, structure foundations and property maintenance. Violation of the ordinance could result in fines up to $500.
The ordinance came about at the direction of newly-elected Council member Richard Bloom, who won a seat in April campaigning on a platform promising to address deteriorating housing stock in Port Richey.
In May, council members heard from staff that current city codes do not allow for code enforcement to address numerous problems that have brought complaints, including peeling paint, mildew-covered walls, damaged or boarded windows and dilapidated fences.
After the staff presentation, Bloom proposed that the city create an ordinance that adopts much of Pasco County’s minimum housing standards into Port Richey housing code. The council voted 3-2 to move forward with such an ordinance which led to last week’s vote.
On June 12, the vote again came down to a 3-2 margin, with Bloom being joined by Mayor Dale Massad and Vice Mayor Terry Rowe in favor.
As in May, Council members Will Dittmer and Jennie Sorrell voted against the ordinance, thought not because they feel it is not needed.
Dittmer and Sorrell voted against the first reading after continuing to call for a workshop on the matter in order to provide public input, which has not taken place.
"I don’t think we did this the right way by not letting the citizens be involved," Dittmer said.
The council is slated to hold a second reading of the ordinance at City Hall on June 26, during which the public can comment.