Mr. Bornemann wrote the following in response to my initial email in July 2007. Mr. Geyer has yet to respond.
Candidate Bornemann Comments 7/25
"I have asked the Mayor and City staff to bring back a landlord accountability ordinance that will address many of these issues. I was really hoping they would have it ready to bring before the council soon. I check this past week with Malcolm Oliver and Katherine Hanawell about the progress and was disappointed to hear it was progressing slower then I hoped. I told them that I want to see this before us as soon as possible. I will keep pushing to bring back this ordinance and this time get it put in place. As soon as Katherine gets an initial draft I want to get it sent to the planning commission for hearings and input from the citizens. We need to get better legislation and much better enforcement of zoning codes. I share your frustration in the lack of enforcement. I will work with the neighborhoods to provide the kind of protection that is needed. Houses zoned single family should be just that(,) not boarding houses. Terry"
To which I replied
I believe that the landlords (even of single family homes) should be licensed and inspected but I don’t want that issue to cloud the very basic problem we have here, zoning enforcement. The landlords have shown themselves to be organized opponents as you saw when they hijacked that meeting at the cruise terminal a while back. They will yell and scream and meanwhile the zoning enforcement issue will be ignored.
Is anyone contacting any of these other jurisdictions (
And on 7/27 his reply on other jurisdictions with effective zoning enforcement
"I will find out if those jurisdictions are included in the research that is being done. If there are not, I will ask that they be looked at. I know I have looked into Ann Arbors when we first tried to bring forward the Landlord Accountablity Ordinance. Terry"
And again on 8/27
"I agree that a simple landlord accountability ordinance will not solve all the problem(s) but hopefully what comes forward will also address the issues of enforceability and not just landlord accountability. I share your frustration with the inability to get the City to enforce the regulations on the books. I have been pushing for that as well and unfortunately have been unable to get the 4 votes necessary to move the administration to action. I have asked that the 3 unrelated rule be enforced and if it is challenged, so be it, we defend it. Unenforceability should be determined by the courts not a city attorney. I will bring the issue up at the next council meeting to get a response on the record about where the administration is on bringing a new ordinance forward that will address the issue being raised. I will see if I can get it on for the Planning Committee agenda if not, I will bring it forward on Old and New Business. Thank you for pushing us. With so many issues coming forward it is too easy to bring a(n) issue forward assume it is being worked on and move forward with other issue."I am not hoping for anything as hope is an illusion. What matters is action. What “comes forward” depends on our pushing the issue. We cannot be diverted from the essential question which is the lack of enforcement of the Bellingham City Code regarding single family homes and the consequential turning of these homes into rooming houses. Landlord accountability at this time is a red herring. The root cause of the problem remains non-enforcement of existing code.
As you have recognized, Terry, other jurisdictions have been able to prevail in court with similar ordinances. (see such references on the right hand side of my blog) If we do not deal with the code issue, all else becomes moot, especially the hard work that neighborhoods are doing in updating their neighborhood plans. I sent the following to the Samish Neighborhood board with regard to its draft plan:
“I would like to encourage all the (Samish) board members to keep in mind that one of the major defining terms within this neighborhood plan, and indeed, every neighborhood plan is low density. This means single family zoned areas. Unfortunately, our city officials are unwilling to enforce the codes which prevent homeowners from converting single family homes (low density) into rooming houses (medium/high density depending on how many you can cram into a house). As a consequence, a good part of our planning and your hard work becomes a moot exercise where terms have little or no meaning except to present a nicely thought out plan that cannot be enforced.
I urge the SNA board to formally bring up this problem during discussions with the city. How does the Planning Department assure any sort of compliance with the plan when the terms are problematic and enforcement is not an option, save a perfunctory “investigation” which goes nowhere.”
I intend to push this issue very hard in this blog and in my communications with the candidates for mayor and the council up to and beyond the general election. I have sent messages to all the neighborhood associations and these organizations are beginning to react. Check out the Sehome Neighborhood newsgroup at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sehome/ and read their stories.
Now if Mr. Geyer will send us his comments...