Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald got it all wrong in his April 29 letter that responded to Ben Chin’s April 19 guest column that analyzed the proposed changes to the city’s new comprehensive plan draft.

Chin raised concerns that mandatory enforcement of housing codes, along with accountability for violations, had been removed from the draft.

Chin did not level accusations against city staff. He praised their efforts on the draft plan.

What he did criticize were changes to the plan’s original language, deleting the important phrase that “all programs, codes, and regulations must be mandatory.” If not mandatory, they are essentially meaningless.

Code enforcement ideally makes the city a safer place for its citizens — a primary responsibility of elected officials. How is that any different from fire or police safety?

Furthermore, code enforcement enhances development and helps create jobs — a stated top priority for Lewiston.


Not long after my nearly 15-year term as Lewiston planning director began, in 1988, it became clear that the city had too few code enforcement staff. Since then, the situation has gotten even worse.

The apology Macdonald called for should, instead, come from the policy makers — including some City Councilors and the mayor himself — to the citizens of Lewiston. For so long, too few resources have been allocated to run effective code enforcement programs.

Good landlords comply with codes and regulations. Lewiston must insist that all landlords do, including slum, corporate and absentee landlords, by keeping the original language that will assure mandatory compliance.

Jim Lysen, Lewiston

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