Wednesday, October 17, 2007

More Reader Questions - City Officials Invited to Respond

Here are some additional reader questions and comments. Both originate from homeowners in the Samish neighborhood. I again invite the city leadership to respond.

"As the time for voting grows closer I am wondering if you realize how important the issue of zoning is to many of the residents of this city. I am referring to R1 or single-family zoning and the lack of enforcement of that code in Bellingham.

Now that Western is back in session our neighborhood is facing once again, increased problems with noise, trash, increased traffic, too many cars parked all over the street, late night parties and underage drinking, and other irresponsible behavior.

I admit that it isn't just students that are wreaking havoc in our neighborhood. There are also homes rented to multiple residents who we don't believe are students, but create the same problems, drinking, garbage, noise, increased traffic, cars parked all over the place and unkempt yards.

In either case the result is the same. The quality of life in our neighborhood has been compromised by the lack of the enforcement of the single family zoning law. A law that we have been told is unenforceable and unconstitutional.

We find it strange that there is a law on the books that is not enforceable. Single family zoning should mean just exactly what it says. My rights as a citizen in this city should be protected and upheld. When anyone buys a home in a neighborhood that is zoned single family, they should be able to rest assured that they will not be faced with a neighborhood that becomes filled with rooming houses and all of the problems that go with them.

If you are elected, I would like to know what you will do to protect my neighborhood and neighborhoods all over the city that are experiencing the same problems that our neighborhood faces. Will you address the problem and help find a solution or will you just ignore it as is currently the case? "

And this entitled "Invasion of the Boarding Houses":

"What has 2013, 1907, 1818, 1306 and 1127 all have in common? No, these are not dates of any importance. I keep seeing these numbers as I drive around my neighborhood. I suspect most of us see similar numbers in our neighborhood, too. My internal Enigma machine decrypted the answer for me; “they are the addresses of rooming houses with 4 – 6 young adults”!

How has this happened? Have “ET’s” come to our single family neighborhoods, abducting us without our knowledge, injecting us with a serum that makes us complacent or fogs our reasoning, then returning us to live out our lives not caring what happens?!? I think not. They may have done this to our city leaders and even some of our Neighborhood Associations? If so, they seem to have done a good job!

I suspect that the theme, “keep or enhance our neighborhood’s character” is running rampant in most neighborhood association comprehensive plans currently being developed. I would challenge anyone to say, with a straight face, that rooming houses keep or enhance the character of any neighborhood. Why is it that some have the strong attitude of “not in my neighborhood”, while also advocating “it’s ok for your neighborhood?” Why have the city leaders taken such a low profile position on this subject? Are there any candidates for mayor and city council with the conviction to lead on this problem? Please speak up and take a stand! We would all like to know before November 6th!

I’ve always heard that one should ever complain without offering solutions. Well, here are a few:

- Since WWU indirectly (at best) creates this problem for the community, require that they provide a much larger percent of their enrollment with on-campus and affordable housing.

- For the same reason as above, require that the WWU Security heavily augment the patrol and control of student rooming houses in our neighborhoods since the city cannot or will not do it.

- Four to six non-related young adults living in a traditional single-family residence will use much more water than an average family. Suggestion: put all rooming houses on a metered water plan and charge them accordingly. Everyone’s water rates are most definitely inflated because rooming houses are not charged fairly. If motels are charged for water based on usage, why aren’t rooming houses?

- Renting property is as much of a business as any other business in town. Why aren’t landlords required to obtain a COB business license like everyone else? They should also be required to pay COB business taxes if appropriate. These fees could be used to help pay for more inspection, surveillance and patrol of rooming houses."

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