Nederland residents take aim at community’s renters in front of city council
Published 12:34 am Tuesday, June 13, 2023
NEDERLAND — A couple of Nederland residents took direct aim at renters and absentee property owners during this week’s city council meeting, attributing the group to a growing drug problem, declining property values and changing dynamics negatively impacting the community.
The dais of Nederland elected leaders largely left the claims unanswered outside of Mayor Don Albanese, who said the city is actively taking measures to eliminate the expansion of multi-family construction within city limits.
First on Monday’s regular agenda was Ray Herrera, who was on the docket to speak on “the volume of rental housing in Nederland,” the agenda read.
“With all the rental property coming in, you are going to have crime,” he said. “If you don’t think you have crime and drugs, you have your eyes closed. I have two rental properties on my block and a house that really needs to be condemned. When the economy is good, you are going to be able to rent these for whatever they want. When the economy goes bad, they are going to turn them into Section 8 and guess who is going to be paying for it. The taxpayers.”
Herrera said drugs, shootings and killings are a growing problem in Nederland, adding Police Chief Gary Porter is often found on the news speaking about the problems.
Herrera said the city council has the power to shut down rental property in the community because its presence is driving the value of his and others houses down.
“If it is going to continue, we will be selling and moving,” he said, before adding he would like to walk down the street at midnight and not have to worry about being robbed or mugged.
“If he wants property to rent, go to Port Arthur, go to Beaumont. Bring that trash over there. I do not think you have any value if you do not own the house. I get it. I was a renter for awhile. That’s fine, but most of the time (property owners) don’t care who they rent it to. The drugs are coming.”
Albanese said city leaders looked into the issue “quite a bit” and “stopped the apartments.”
“As far as rental property, 90 percent is owned by citizens in the city already,” Albanese said. “With them paying taxes, it is hard to say that you cannot rent your property.”
Following the exchange, a resident identified as Rustin Penland of 22nd Street said the city must figure out a way to get money from tenants who are using resources with property owners floating the bill.
“You have somebody that comes in, rents an apartment for a year and he or she has the power to vote against me,” Penland said. “Then, they leave and go to another town. It should be at least a three-year minimum before you have a chance to vote. Something to show your allegiance to the black and gold here in Nederland, show you really care, pay that money, pay to play.”
He said multi-family units are killing property values.
“We’re on the verge of getting out of here. I’m born and raised here. I’ve watched all these changes,” Penland said, adding mattresses are seen on the side of the road and landlords don’t care.
Albanese implored Penland and all residents to report anything unsightly and possible out-of-line issues with city ordinance when noticed in neighborhoods so action could be taken.
Penland went on to question renters who said spend six days out of the week taking “our resources” and who go to Port Arthur to worship on Sunday.
“They don’t even sit here and fellowship with us,” he said. “To me that is a problem.”
As a point of municipal efficiency, Albanese said Nederland residents pay lower taxes then in any city in Jefferson County.
Penland responded by saying Nederland residents would gladly pay more taxes if it led to a safer city experience.
“The Nederland I know is a safe, secure landlocked town that has always been beautiful and safe,” Penland said. “That dynamic is changing because of multi-family units.”