Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Council Crust Breaks Open

Last night the tectonic-like crust, which had formed over the city council regarding the issue of illegal rooming houses in Bellingham, ruptured when a motion to create a pilot project on the enforcement of the law was passed 5-2, with Mr. Watts and Ms. Ryan voting against. (To see the Herald article on the meeting click here) Spearheaded by council member Terry Bornemann, the council shook off the crustal dust and listened to its constituency, the residents and homeowners, who have long endured in silence.

The worn-out arguments of the landlords (e.g. it’s only a small number of property-owners who contribute to the problem) were recognized by most to be unfounded or over-stated. (I will review those arguments in a subsequent blog). Moreover, the city’s written response to the council on its actions regarding the illegal rooming house issue (click here to read the document) proved again that the city was nibbling around the edges of the problem as enforcement of the single family zoning code was, curiously, not even mentioned.

An undercurrent to the discussion on the issue of illegal rooming houses finally floated to the surface. I wrote on this "floater" in previous blog entries, however paradoxically, only the landlords and the “landlord” attorney who commented, touched on the issue last night. There is a massive affordable housing shortage in Bellingham whose safety valve has been, until now, illegal rooming houses. The city must get off its collective duff to deal effectively with not only the creation of illegal rooming houses but also the influx of new residents and projected increases in the student population at WWU. If not, all talk of preserving neighborhood character and controlling growth and sprawl is illusional.


Anonymous said...

The Herald reports that Barbara Ryan voted against it; your entry says that Louise Bjornson voted against it. What's the scoop?

zonemaven said...

My error regarding the "no" votes. Those were cast by Mr. Watts and Ms Ryan.