BELLEVILLE — The City Council on Tuesday will vote on an ordinance amending the city's current rules related to occupancy permits.
The proposed amendments to the existing ordinance have undergone several revisions after residents complained that the proposal violates privacy, has vague wording and can't be enforced, among other issues.
The ordinance before the City Council clarifies that residents in a dwelling unit must be listed on an occupancy permit.
The ordinance also adds that residents have to get a new occupancy permit if there is a change of occupants. And, visitors are exempt but it is up to the owner or tenant to prove that an individual is a visitor.
These clarifications do not change the type of information city officials already ask of residents.
The city currently requires residents to pay $50 for occupancy permits. Residents are identified on the permit by name, relationship and date of birth. And, the city issues a citation if they find a person is residing at a dwelling and is not listed on the permit.
Other cites, including Fairview Heights, require permits.
The proposed ordinance no longer includes the most controversial aspect of the initial proposal, which is that residents have up to a year to report the birth or adoption of a child and comply in any case where the addition causes the household to violate the maximum occupancy allowance.
Some city officials said they wanted to give residents more time to report the birth or adoption of a child, but some residents and aldermen said this information shouldn't have to be reported at all.
These residents said the city does not have the right to know who is living with each other. The proposed ordinance also does not define how long a "visitor" gets to stay in a residence before the visitor is deemed a more permanent "resident."
Residents also expressed concern that the ordinance would force residents to move because they violate the occupancy allowance because of instances like unplanned pregnancies or having to take in a sick parent.
Mayor Mark Eckert said the city's intent is to keep residents safe and prevent overcrowding.
"We're not out to put people on the streets," Eckert said.
Eckert and Police Chief William Clay said occupancy permits play a key role in the effectiveness of the proposed crime-free housing plan.
For example, as part of the crime-free housing program, any residents listed on the permit over the age of 18 would be subject to a mandatory criminal history and sex offender registry background check. If city staff cannot check the occupancy permit for residents over 18, then they can't enforce the mandatory checks, Eckert said.
Clay said that city staff do not go to residents' homes to check on occupancy permits unless they're responding to a specific complaint.
If the city gets a call that there are too many people living in an dwelling or there are residents at a home that are not listed on the permit, then the city sends a code enforcement officer with the Housing Department to look into the matter, Clay said.
The Housing Department has received 1,103 complaints specifically related to occupancy allowance issues between June 2010 and January this year, Clay said.
Clay said the city does not send police officers or drug units on such calls, and the Housing officers do not force entry into homes for such occupancy checks.
The City Council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, 101 S. Illinois St.
The meeting was moved from Monday to Tuesday in observance of Presidents Day.
Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BNDBelleville.