Victory for Tenants and BLCC on City Lead Ordinance

Report from Ordinance Committee:
Last night, Burlington Livable City Coalition leaders Bekah Mandell and Chris Guros presented the suggested modifications to the lead paint ordinance and our Open Letter supporting the ordinance. The letter had been signed by about fifty supporters, including parents, tenants, union leaders, educators, faith community leaders and health professionals. We also delivered a letter of support for our modifications from the Alliance For Healthy Homes (see attached), a national non-profit organization that specializes in lead paint poisoning prevention. The meeting was long, but we stayed and it was totally worth it.

After hours of deliberation, they voted to pass the ordinance and add our modifications requiring no bare soil at the drip lines and posting a sign to let tenants and neighbors know when work that creates lead hazards is being done. (The new sign will be designed by the Burlington Lead Program and will have skull & crossbones and a big L to signify poisonous lead.) The Committee also passed a resolution to require City staff to explore more fully our suggested modifications for the citywide properties public database on lead paint history, and for requiring dust wipe tests to ensure that children are not exposed to lead dust hazards, and making a Lead Safe standard modeled after the Burlington Lead Program for rental units to have failed lead inspections twice. (The committee specified that the City must come back with the results of their further study on dust wipes by the end of Feb.) The full City Council is expected to vote on the ordinance on on January 5th.

Victory for Tenants, BLCC Coalition:
This was an important first victory for the Healthy Homes Coalition. We completely re-framed the debate, from what usually is a discussion between the City officials and the landlords (and the lines get blurry there, the chair of the Ordinance Committee is a well-known landlord) and brought voice to those--renters and low-income parents--who are usually excluded from the debate. Despite opposition from the Landlord's Association to the City's original proposal, we were able to strengthen the proposal. There is little doubt that if we were not there, what was passed would have been only a somewhat watered-down version of what the City proposed. Together, we have gotten closer to keeping our children as safe and healthy as possible. We are going to keep putting all kinds of pressure on the Council to pass the ordinance and then on the City to both enforce the ordinance as written and get the dust wipes put in, so that we can really start protecting kids.This victory also represents a significant achievement for the Burlington Livable City Coalition as nurses, educators, other union members, and community folks acted in solidarity to support these tenant rights initiatives in the broader struggle for making Burlington a truly livable city for everyone.

Next Steps: Thanks to everyone for your involvement to this point, we need to keep identifying people who care about this issue (you can forward this email to people you think would be interested and have them contact us), everyone should stay tuned about next steps to pass this ordinance at January 5th Council Meeting. Also, please mark your calendars for our next Burlington Livable City Coalition Meeting will be 6pm, January 13 at the VWC.