I would like to thank the Post-Gazette and reporter Diana Nelson Jones for her recent story on Oakwatch, a citizen-sponsored project in Oakland that aims to improve our community’s quality of life by working with building inspectors to prioritize code enforcement efforts (“Oakland Group Targets Overcrowded Housing,” Aug. 4).
I would like to correct a possible misimpression left by the final quote in Ms. Jones’ story, regarding landlords being unhappy with Oakwatch. Even if landlords are operating illegally, they have nothing to fear from Oakwatch, which merely seeks to augment the eyes and ears of building inspectors, much like block watch groups work to help police officers reduce neighborhood crime.
It is Oakwatch’s hope that landlords who unfairly enrich themselves by taking advantage of tenants and degrading neighborhoods will come to fear consistent and aggressive enforcement by the city’s newly empowered corps of building inspectors. We believe an effective building inspection program and active enforcement by police of the newly amended disruptive properties ordinance will help improve the quality of life for all city residents.
The writer is co-chair of Oakwatch: The Code Enforcement Project.