The Prince George's Property Owners Association (PGPOA) has confirmed that it is in fact the source of a pair of controversial petitions circulating the city.
The blog KabirCares posted comments on Monday from PGPOA member William Chicca, who told editor Fazlul Kabir that "many of the members of PGPOA are residents of the city and are very concerned about the direction the city government is going in trying to impede and even suppress rental of single family homes.”
The seek to cap the amount of tax revenue the city can collect, and eliminate the distinction between rental properties and owner-occupied properties, respectively.
Lisa Miller, president of the PGPOA, told Patch on Tuesday that though the organization spearheaded the petitions, it was at the behest of concerned residents.
"We heard from enough people out there that are really not happy with the way things are going," said Miller, a Potomac resident who owns various properties in College Park. "We decided that the rest of the population deserves a voice."
"It’s interesting that the city of College Park is choosing to make [the petitions] an issue when they’ve already had thousands of people sign."
The PGPOA did not immediately identify itself as the source behind the petitions not to be deceptive, but because it didn't seems necessary, Miller said.
Regarding the petitions themselves, Miller said each one addresses a separate issue. The petition seeking to cap the city's tax revenue is simply a means of holding the city accountable for the money that it spends.
"It’s kind of a microcosm of what’s happening in the country," she said. "Should the government really have a blank check? They keep finding ways to spend and spend. They shouldn’t need that much money to run a city of this size."
"We’re not saying you can never have more money, but we need to know why," she added.
As for the petition that aims to equalize rental properties and owner-occupied properties, Miller said the issue is one of basic fairness. The PGPOA believes that the city's rent stabilization law favors the developers of large apartment complexes.
If a rent control law is applied to one type of property, she said, it should apply to all types of property. Not applying it across the board is discrimination, she said.
Though Miller could not say for sure how many residents have signed the petitions so far, she said the association is close to collecting the number it needs for the referenda to be added to the ballot in November. Twenty percent of the city's eligible voters must sign each petition in order to be added.
She called the city's attempt to scare residents away from signing "horrific."
"I think that what they're doing is horrible. It’s pure scare tactic," she said. "What are they so afraid of?"
Both petitions are posted as a PDF at right.