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