Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Silence Is Not Golden - Readers Comment on "Enforcement"

I have taken these two comments from my post of October 13th and placed them more prominently here as examples of variations on problem of enforcement. Last night, I attended the Let's Talk Forum sponsored by the Campus Community Coalition. From the comments by homeowners last night and by written messages to me over the past few months, it is painfully evident that our citizenry is dimly aware of the enforcement possibilities offered by the city agencies. You can call for parking enforcement. You can call for litter enforcement. You can call for noise enforcement. Most of all, you can demand enforcement of the single family zoning code. From my concerned readers, the following:

"I for one did not know there was a way to complain to the city about illegal rooming houses. At the time that I get more in my neighborhood, which I am unfortunately sure that I will, I will not hesitate to use this form. I will also provide my name so it will be considered a legitimate violation of the zoning law."

And this:

"I was one of the six people who filed a complaint with the City Planning Department this year. I filled out a Code Enforcement Investigation Request, attached a letter giving a narrative of the kinds of municipal code violations that were happening at a rental property next to my home and how this was affecting my quality of life and enjoyment of my home. The kinds of violations ranged from too many unrelated occupants (6), problems with noise and parties, garbage not being disposed of properly, trash and glass being thrown in my yard etc. and so on. I also attached a list of the renters' names and phone numbers as proof of number of occupants living in the house. I talked about the problem with parking on my street due to the number of vehicles belonging to this house.

I called the Planning Department to check on the complaint every two weeks and after five or six weeks I was told that the property owner had been notified, had responded and had been warned. I had filled out the enforcement request just before school was out in the summer, so by the time that the request had been investigated, that group of renters had moved out. The property was rented again in July to 3 renters and they have not caused any problems as of yet. My point in posting this reply is to encourage people to file these Code Enforcement Requests and to be clear in stating what codes are being violated and how it is affecting your quality of life. Attach any proof that you may have that the code is being violated. Then continue to contact the Planning Department for follow-up. Be persistent, be polite, be clear with your information. If enough people are willing to come forth we can show the city that we need some changes toward keeping our neighborhoods a great place to live. If we aren't willing to speak up no one will hear us."

Again, for zoning enforcement (illegal rooming houses) you must make a written request to the Planning Department. Click here to find the form (Land Use Code Enforcement Investigation Request) or call them at 676-6550.

For litter control call the Bellingham Police Department at 676-6920 and ask for the Litter Control Officer. Read about litter in the Bellingham code by clicking here and here)

For parking problems (cars parked on the wrong side of the road, in front of mailboxes, on the sidewalk, blocking driveways/alleys, etc.) call 676-6920 during weekdays. If the parking problem has safety ramifications, call 911 at any time.

For noise complaints, call 676-6920 (or 676-6911 evenings and weekends). The noise ordinances are in effect 24 hours a day with several exceptions (e.g. construction). Read the code by clicking here.

For abandoned vehicles call the police department at 676-6920. It is illegal to park a vehicle on a city street or city property for more than 24 hours. Read more on abandoned vehicles by clicking here.

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