Monday, November 12, 2007

Message to Our New Neighborhood Services Coordinator

I sent the following missive to Linda Stewart, the newly hired Neighborhood Services Coordinator. I urge all my readers to write to Ms. Stewart ( as a call for action in ridding this city of the blight of illegal rooming houses.

Dear Linda,

The purpose of this email is to call your immediate attention as the new Neighborhood Services Coordinator to a long-standing problem regarding the lack of enforcement of the single family zoning code in Bellingham. By way of my blog ( ), I have kept this issue in front of the recent candidates for office. Your next boss, Mayor-elect Dan Pike, has stated that he will enforce the code once in office. Time will tell. On October 8th, the City Council voted a pilot project for enforcement of the code. The jury is still out.

In spite of all that I have written in my blog and all the emails that have been sent to candidates and current office holders, there remains a sentiment among some that this is an issue of enforcement of nuisance ordinances, such as, noise, litter, parking, etc. Unfortunately, these are but symptoms of a problem of overcrowding due to illegal rooming houses within areas zoned for single family residences.

Illegal rooming houses have provided a convenient covert method to absorb large numbers of renters, most of whom are students. Yet, WWU, aside from establishing the Campus Community Coalition (CCC), shies from definitive actions to attenuate the effects of the thousands of students who seek off-campus housing each year. The university continues to expand its campus facilities without regard to the impact of additional students on the community. The CCC can assist in educating students to be good citizens but the CCC can neither provide housing nor can it enforce city code. Because WWU is a large neighbor, it must make a large contribution to the solution of problems its presence creates.

Now the homeowners have begun to resist decades of enforcement avoidance which has turned their streets into rooming house rows, degrading property values and changing the much vaunted “character of our neighborhoods.” This phrase has become a cruel joke to those homeowners who, day after day, are faced with uncontrolled, unregulated and uninspected rooming houses and all that such neglect suggests.

If you truly want to make a difference in our neighborhoods, I call on you to support the homeowners of this city in their efforts to roll back the blight of illegal rooming houses. Otherwise, the catch-phrase “character of our neighborhoods” remains an empty slogan.

I would be happy to meet with you at any time to discuss this topic

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well stated letter.I would like to thank you for your persistent efforts to keep this issue alive and moving toward resolution.
I also will be writing Ms. Stewart with my thoughts and I encourage other readers to do the same.