Lancaster Panel Delays Vote on Anti-Crime Plan

Times Staff Writer

The Lancaster City Council has delayed a decision on a proposal to fund a new anti-crime program with fees that would be paid by the city's landlords.

At a meeting Wednesday, council members postponed a vote on the issue until Dec. 9. They also asked the city staff to come up with alternate funding proposals for the Lancaster Community Appreciation Program, which would add eight new sheriff's deputies to fight crime and blight in and around rental properties.

A local association of real estate agents opposes the suggested funding mechanism, arguing that it places an unfair burden on landlords and low-income tenants. Supporters of the plan say it is fair because much of Lancaster's crime is connected to the city's cheap rental housing.

If the council approves the funding plan, City Attorney David McEwen has recommended that it also be put to a citywide vote in the April 2004 election.

Mayor Frank Roberts said he thinks the plan needs to be retooled so that landlords would not bear the entire cost.

"That's the only way it's going to fly in an election," he said.

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