Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Candidate Snapp for Ward 4 - Round Two

The exchange below between Mr. Snapp and myself is a follow-on to an earlier blog entry of 8/16 which I encourage you to read before tackling this one. (My comments are in red, those of Mr. Snapp in blue.)

Of course you (sic) didn’t ask people to beat up on candidates. That statement is no more literal that “shooting from the hip” as you accuse un-named incumbents of doing in your quote below:

Delicacy causes me to refrain from mentioning names of the hip shooters, however, one or more might find themselves addressees on this message.

Again you describe single family zoning as a closed issue. Says who? When? Who says its (sic) open or closed? I don’t know of any candidates that (sic) have “proffered this dubious rationale in the past” and you don’t name them or the reference.

I think it is instructive to appreciate that the legal issue surrounding single family zoning, which had been portrayed to us as a closed issue, is apparently quite open. Voters should consider that when examining candidates (especially incumbents) who have proffered this dubious rationale in the past.

Again, no citations or documentation just your view that it’s a “closed issue”. I don’t know of any issues that are closed. If citizens have concerns, it’s the job of elected officials to listen and act if they deem it appropriate to do so. If someone told you this was a closed issue, say who, when and where and give someone a chance to respond.

If you really want the votes from your constituency, you will have to provide some concrete solutions to end this mess the City of Bellingham calls zoning.

Again, you call our zoning system a “mess”. What is that supposed to mean? How can a reasonable person take that kind of statement seriously. When you described a specific concern I responded in agreement that if a code is not enforceable for whatever reason then it needs to be changed or taken off the books. If it’s taken off the books, what then? Your perception of the problem won’t change a bit, but some other remedy will have to be sought.

I attended the candidate forum hosted by the League of Women Voters on July 18th. Although all of you spoke to the issue of growth, none brought up the subject of the lack of enforcement of the “single family” residential portion of the Bellingham Municipal Code.

I can’t speak for other candidates but I see “growth” as a huge issue and we’ve talked about a wide range of issues and potential issues under that heading. Other than the email I have from you, not one person has brought up this issue to me during this campaign. I’ve personally knocked on 508 doors in this, very large Ward. I’ve talked literally to hundreds of people and not once has this topic come up as a concern. Granted this Ward is not close to campus but, you point out that this is a much larger issue than that of student housing. This Ward has some wealthy neighborhoods but it also has plenty of neighborhoods with rentals and other mixed uses and densities. I’m not saying it’s not a valid issue I’m just sharing with you that it’s not an issue in my mind like “safe drinking water” “Responsible Growth” (density verses (sic) sprawl) and “Fiscally Responsible Choices” that I’ve been talking with voters about in my Ward. Lot’s (sic) of people are very concerned about downtown and waterfront development and a host of other issues and they are all important but to me, I’m focusing on these three. If you feel my opponents will do a better job of addressing the most meaningful issues from your perspective then, by all means, vote for them. The one most likely to move to the General with me is an “incumbent” and you’ve said very harsh words about them as a group, so I’m thinking you’d be better off taking your chances with a new guy like me, but you get to decide.

Lack of enforcement has turned parts of this city (zoned single family) into rooming house districts.

Again, you’ve made a completely unsubstantiated charge. Rooming houses are licensed and inspected so they are determined to be reasonable safe. If you feel there are occupancies that should be classed as Rooming houses, notify the inspection bureau of the Fire Department and see if they agree with your determination. If they do the occupancy will be inspected. At least that’s how it worked when I worked at the Fire Department.

I will post your comments to my blog with attribution and comment.

It’s your Blog so you get to say anything you want but I won’t be posting again and signing my name, which is the only way I post.

I also ask that you take me off your mass emailing lists. Courtesy dictates not including personal email addresses to the entire community. As a candidate I have a Yahoo account posted, not my private and personal email which you’ve been spreading around.

My reply of 8/16

I suggest you contact the Whatcom Independent to have your email address taken off THEIR site at That is where I got it. I have no idea what your Yahoo address is nor have I been able to find a web site for your candidacy. Your “personal” email seems to be public domain now. See your info below from the Indy. I did not make this up.

“Stan Snapp
E-mail: (I removed the ISP name)
Phone: (360) 305-0607
Stan moved his family here 40 years ago. He is a retired Division Chief from the Bellingham Fire Department. Campaign issues: protect our drinking water reservoir, support neighborhood efforts, open communications between citizens and City Hall. He served and led Greenways, Watershed Board, and Parks Master Plan committee. Experience counts.”

You are right, Stan. My name does not appear on the blog but it does appear on all these emails I have been sending around to the neighborhood boards, the candidates, my friends, city officials and to you – emails that are telling folks to go to my blog at

My reply as of today 8/29.

By the way, you also might want to remove your personal email from the Whatcom County Auditor site which you can find by clicking here and here.

Back to your comments above. You really did tell me “BTW, encouraging people to beat up on candidates really doesn’t help anybody very much.” Not sure what else I should think about a statement like that.

As for the single family zoning issue being a “closed issue”, that is exactly the way it has been presented to me over the years by the former mayor and by current and former members of the city council. If you read my blog, you will find stories from homeowners about their failed attempts at redress. I suggest, if you want further first-hand stories regarding non-enforcement, you may want to actually ask the question as you ring doorbells. However, keep in mind that, if you were to check, you would find that Ward 4 is one of the least populated wards with respect to students. Take a stroll in York, Sehome or Happy Valley and listen to the homeowners there. Or you may want to read some of the emails posted at the Sehome Neighborhood site. (Click here)

As for a response from the city, I would print it here if I had it. I have not heard a word from the Mayor, the City Attorney or the Planning Department as a result of my blog or emails. Perhaps in your role as candidate, you could persuade them to respond. Last year I did get an email from Mr. Capell of the office of the city attorney in response to my request for information as to what might constitute sufficient information for them to take a landlord to court for having too many tenants in a house. Here is his kafkaesque response in its entirety which suggests that somehow I should devine the elements they need for prosecution.

“From: []
Sent: Friday, October 13, 2006 3:44 PM
To: Richard Conoboy
Subject: RE: FW: 160 S. 46th St.

Thanks for the information. Your observations certainly would be relevant (but not conclusive) in a determination of how many people are occupying the residence. However, these observation (sic) do not tell anything one way or the other about whether these individuals are related. One might assume that they are not and, in fact, they probably aren't, but the City does not get the benefit of any such assumptions if it charges and tries the owner of the residence for criminal violation of single family residential zoning laws.

Please feel free to forward me any other observations that you make that you think are relevant to the issue. I cannot, however give you direction as to what things you should be attempting to gather or obtain because that would raise questions as to whether you had become a so-called de facto "state actor" which in turn raises questions of constitutionality. I'm sure this probably seems overly complicated, but, for better or worse, it is the way it is. Thanks again for your reply and feel free to keep me posted on any additional information.

Jeff H. Capell
Asst. City Attorney
(360) 676-6903 phone
(360) 671-1262 fax”

Mess: “A confused, troubling, or embarrassing condition; a muddle.” I rest my case. And, by the way, we don’t have to replace anything. All we have to do is enforce the current code. I am sorry if this problem does not rise to the top of your importance meter, however, I feel obligated to remind you that all growth planning revolves around the definitons of that which constitutes high/medium /low density. If the terms you use to define these densities , such as single family housing, defy description you are in a mess. See above for definition of "mess".

Let’s talk about rooming houses. The problem is precisely that these rooming houses are NOT licensed nor would they be given their locations. However, I find your suggestion to report unlicensed rooming houses to the Fire Department an intriguing one. I propose to my readers that they do just that. Perhaps we have found a work-around solution. My readers can contact the Fire Department for rooming house violations at (360)676-6831. Tell them Mr. Snapp suggested the call.

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