I have quoted below, in its entirety, the response I received from Stan Snapp, one of the candidates for the Ward 4 position on the Bellingham City Council. My comments follow this quoted text.
I tried to post a comment on your Blog and it won’t post it unless I sign up for a Google account which I have no interest in doing. Here’s a paste of my comments, do with them what you will. BTW, encouraging people to beat up on candidates really doesn’t help anybody very much. I’m open to learning more but I will find that ore (sic) and more difficult if people just respond to your call to arms………..
"Protecting what's best in Bellingham" "Candidate for City Council - Ward Four" I'm a new candidate and new to this issue. One doesn't have to think very long or very hard to appreciate enforcing a code or changing it. That seems to me to be a simplistic solution to a very complicated problem. I understand WWU is planning to build more on campus student housing. That will help. I would like to see a "town/gown", for lack of another term, committee made up of City and WWU reps that meet regularly to grapple with the many issues that having a university creates, and the city creates, for them. Housing is just one issue, transportation is a huge one especially with the university sitting on top of the hill. Beating up on city hall isn't the only answer to this situation. Like so many I moved here in 1967 with my family and struggled even then to afford to rent a house. Lot's of single students lived in run down houses all over town and land lords raked in profits. I doubt that situation has changed very much. I don't know where the "three unrelated" term came from that is in the code? I raised a family of five so we were seven related and is that worse than four unrelated? We only had one car but our kids were all over the neighborhood and we had chickens and a horse. Now houses sit where our horse grazed and its (sic) completely unsafe to ride a horse on 30th where my kids and I rode. I hope this Blog addresses the breadth of this issue and gets away from the simplistic "enforce it or change it" solution. For example, you call the cops and they determine that four students are living in the house and none of them are related. So, do you kick them all out, kick out one to get down to three. I'm betting they all don't have cars so do you kick out the extra car owner and let the cyclist stay? I'm concerned here about the value judgments I sense from the author. I don't see four students renting a house from a landlord willing to collect unreasonable rent as a rooming house. As a candidate, I’m always willing to listen to what citizens have to say, but I’m resistant to the “call to arms” approach I sense here and the value judgements (sic) that goes (sic) with that approach. I am willing to work with others to address these and other challenges we face. Regards, Stan Snapp, candidate City Council,Ward Four"
Begin My Comments
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I must, however, strongly object to your characterization of my blog as beating up on candidates. I challenge you to find the wording which suggests that I am asking citizens to do that. I am asking that the voters put candidates on the spot, especially on this issue which has been ignored for years by the current crop of elected officials. I have no intention of voting for anyone who will maintain the status quo and I want every voter and candidate to know that. I fail to see how such firmness constitutes beating up a candidate.
Keep It Simple
Now, with respect to your specific comments. My solution is simplistic because the basic solution is simple - enforce or not enforce. Of course, the council can also choose to change the law but has had little inclination to do so for quite a time now. Nevertheless, it is true that the consequences of enforcing the law must play out over a period of time but we have to begin someplace.
Dormitories R Not Us
As for building additional dormitory housing, I have learned through one of the mayoral candidates, who actually spoke with a university representative, that WWU is planning only one additional dormitory in the near future but has no plans ever to house more than one-third of its student population on campus. I sent his communication to that effect to all the mayoral and city council candidates (you included) last week.
Been There, Done That
Let's talk about town/gown. Stan, there has been in existence for years the Campus Community Coalition, of which I am a member, which meets regularly to wrestle with exactly the issues of which you speak. There are also the "Let's Talk" forums which I attend regularly. You can find more about them by clicking here.
Search For The Code
I am not sure why you, as a candidate for public office, are asking me if something like the term "three unrelated" appears in the code. This issue has been discussed ad nauseam for at least the last 5 years I have been here. You can find the Bellingham City Code by clicking here.
What are your plans to ensure that students don't live in rundown homes while the landlords "rake in the profits"?
That Pesky Code Again
If asking for code enforcement is a value judgment, I plead guilty. And yes, allowing four unrelated people in a single family home constitutes a rooming house. From the city code:
20.08.020 - Specific Definitions15. Boarding and Rooming House: A structure used for the purpose of providing lodging or lodging and meals, for persons other than those under the "family" definition. This term includes dormitories, cooperative housing and similar establishments but does not include hotels, motels, medical care facilities or bed and breakfast facilities.
Verbum Sat Sapiente Est.