Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dueling Danjos - Deliverance in Bellingham?

This blog is now about 2 months old and already the educational effect is manifest in the manner in which some of the candidates for office are speaking. Thanks to my readers, I have been able to gather some recent (in the last several weeks) comments by the candidates on the issue of illegal rooming houses. Here our mayoral candidates have the floor:

From mayoral candidate Dan Pike:

"… As you probably know, [the Zonemaven] has been raising this issue with all candidates, and getting mixed responses. From my own perspective, I am not sure the existing law is unenforceable. If elected I intend to enforce this, and find out.

In addition, this is an issue where the City and WWU need to work together to identify and then implement solutions. Some solutions could include the provision of more student housing by WWU, stricter permitted parking regulations and enforcement in problem areas (to reduce the number of cars allowed per residential address, thereby reducing the attractiveness of having 4+ students share a house), working with neighborhoods throughout the City to identify where zoning changes to accommodate student populations might make sense, possibly licensing landlords to make them more accountable for problem rentals.

These are just a few of the potential solutions I will work on; I welcome your help and ideas in identifying and analyzing more. …"

From mayoral candidate Dan McShane:

"I am delighted that people are pushing this issue again. I am very well of the problem as my own neighborhood is heavily impacted and I know that the problem is growing.

I do not believe that the law is unconstitutional as similar regulations have been enforced and survived challenges in other states. The way we manage this problem though does make enforcement difficult.

Four years ago then Mayor Asmundson door belled my neighborhood and followed up with an effort to create a system where enforcement could more readily be done. Unfortunately the Council backed down from implementing the changes needed. I think it is in the City's interest to bring this back up. A number of very effective approaches have been developed in other college cities and I believe this approach would be the way to get at effective and timely enforcement. I also think it can be done in a very fair manner to landlords and to tenants and ultimately to the people that have invested in their homes and neighborhoods.

Thank you for taking the time to ask and raise this concern. It is creating a groundswell that will about meaningful action on this long neglected matter."

My comment to Dan Pike:

"Mixed responses"? Only from the candidates. My readers out there in rooming-house-land are not so divided.

I agree with the rest of your statement as long as you keep enforcement of the current code at the top of your list. All other actions are tangential to the elimination of illegal rooming houses but will not get THE job done.

My comment to Dan McShane:

A bit of a wooly response. You described the problem but did not propose a solution, i.e., enforcement of the single family zoning code. I have no idea what you are putting forward. "Bringing this back up" is too mushy. I reread your earlier response to me (click here) and found your answer equally unsatisfying. What is your stand?

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