Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Not So Sunny in Sunnyland

A reader posted the following last week.

Dick, please include Sunnyland...especially south. We are surrounded by some of the worst rental homes which are owned and operated by Lakeway Realty (I'd like to know other neighborhoods who are having the same problems with this agency). We had an incident here last month that required the entire Bellingham police force to come to our neighborhood. This was after repeated letters and phone calls to Dave Hansen owner of Lakeway Realty and letters to COB Mayor Tim, COB Police Department for violations that are mentioned in the code as well as code violations with garbage. The litter control officer (who is a police officer and not in my opinion a code officer) apparently spoke to the renters and I do not know who ultimately cleaned up the HUGE (renter or owner) pile of garbage but it was nearly two months worth before anything really happened and that is a ridicules timeline for a health hazard. We found little help in this matter and no phone calls from any of the above until the police incident last month. Eight Neighbors met with Mr. Hansen in regards to his rentals and in my opinion he seemed to really not care...though he has cleaned up the properties a bit. As a neighborhood we have come to an agreement that if this continues we will continue to write the above people and as far as code enforcement...yeah right! Any more suggestions would be most helpful but I am doing this anonymously because I do not feel safe at times with some of the people in these rentals.

Dear Reader.

As I said in one of my earlier posts, no area of Bellingham is immune from becoming a rooming house district under the current atmosphere of lack of enforcement. According to the statistics I have as of 2005, Sunyland indeed is one of the most heavily populated areas with respect to students. Exactly how many homes there have been turned into rooming houses, we do not know. Nobody keeps tabs and, as you have found out, the rental companies and property owners may choose to be no help at all. You are doing the right thing by writing to city officials and calling the police. One correction, however, the litter control officer is not a police officer but an employee of the Public Works Department who works at the Bellingham police station and has limited enforcement powers to fine those who litter. Nevertheless, he is obliged to enforce codes. Remember to document your contacts with city officials. Get names. Follow-up emails and letters will keep the problem on the burner and provide a paper trail for future action. I can understand your feeling of not being safe. I also suggest you write the candidates for office. As of this entry in my blog, the results of the election are not yet known. You can find candidate emails at http://whatcomindy.com/candidate_watch.php. Tell them that you want the single family zoning ordinance enforced and that you want to see a licensing code for landlords. Even a dog needs a license in Bellingham but, if you want to become a landlord of the house you just bought, you need no permission, no license. Nobody inspects the home for habitability. If you, or anyone else, want to discuss privately this issue, write to me with your phone number at zonemaven@hotmail.com. I will call you and provide other information according to your specific situation.

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