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Council Open to Changing Controversial Rental Inspection Program

By Mark Ackerman

FEDERAL HEIGHTS, Colo. (CBS4)- A public comment session about Federal Heights' controversial rental inspection program was abruptly cut short Monday night "in the interest of public safety," according to City Manager Jacqueline Halburnt.

"Our council is willing to engage with residents on this program and look at possible changes," said Halburnt. "But there has to be civility."

Jacqueline Halburnt
Jacqueline Halburnt (credit:

Since 2013, Federal Heights has inspected more than 2,000 rental units in an effort to cut down on blight and make sure rental properties are habitable.

As CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has recently reported, some renters and landlords have objected calling the mandatory inspections a government intrusion, especially when the rental property is occupied by tenants.

The Monday night meeting was adjourned after roughly 20 minutes when a renter told police he would not be silenced and would speak until he was arrested.

federal heights
(credit: Nate Hill)

That same renter, Ernie DeHerrera, is facing contempt charges after failing to adhere to a judge's order to allow the city to inspect his property.

In July, the former Marine told CBS4, "I know this is a violation of my constitution that's why I'll be a martyr for the cause."

Halburnt urges patience, "Let the government wheels turn and let the government improve the program."

(credit: CBS)

According to council documents, Federal Heights has a number of options on the table, including allowing private, non-governmental inspectors, removing single-family homes from the inspection rotation, and inspecting units when they are vacant.

The council will resume discussion on the topic at their next meeting Tuesday, Aug. 16.

daniel dick
Federal Heights Mayor Daniel Dick (credit:

Meantime, a group opposing the rental inspections program has drafted recall petitions for Federal Heights Mayor Daniel Dick and Federal Heights Mayor Pro Tem John Hamlin.

The city clerk approved the petition language Monday, allowing the petitioners 60 days to collect the required number of signatures.

Mark Ackerman is a Special Projects Producer at CBS4. Follow him on Twitter @ackermanmark

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