Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Time for Action - Keep the Heat on the Winners

You, the voters, have spoken. We now know who will lead our city for the next several years. Although the results are not entirely those that I would have preferred, it may be useful at this point to review the winners and their stands on the issue of illegal rooming houses in Bellingham.

Mayor: Dan Pike supported enforcement of the Bellingham Municipal Code on single family zoning from the very start. He stated, “To be clear, I believe in enforcing the codes we have, and am willing to go to court as needed.” Read the full text of Mr. Pike’s comments in my blog here and here.

Ward 1 Council: Jack Weiss ran unopposed. His response to me in July indicated that he did not fully appreciate the problem. Perhaps since then, he has had time to refine his take on the issue. Read his previous comments by clicking here.

Ward 3 Council: Barry Buchanan replied to me at the end of August. His main thrust was to rework the ordinance and then enforce whatever resulted. Since we never have tested the current ordinance, it did not make sense to me to create yet a new one to put to the test. You can read his full comments by clicking here.

Ward 4 Council: Stan Snapp exchanged several “lively” emails which I posted here along with my comments (click here and here and here to read the full texts). I was primarily disturbed by the fact that he was unaware of the current ordinances on single family zoning and rooming houses.

Ward 5 Council: Terry Bornemann has stated from the start that he would work to have the current code enforced. In August he stated, “I have asked that the 3 unrelated rule be enforced and if it is challenged, so be it, we defend it. Unenforceability should be determined by the courts not a city attorney.” On October 8th he succeeded in introducing a motion at the city council meeting to “direct staff to prepare a pilot program regarding enforcement of complaints relating to more than three unrelated individuals living in a home.” You can read the council minutes on this motion by clicking here. You can also read Mr. Bornemann’s previous comments in this blog by clicking here.

At-Large Council: In spite of numerous requests from me, Ms. Bjornson never responded on this issue. To her credit, she did vote for Mr. Bornemann’s motion at the October 8th council meeting. Her comments were reported on the minutes as: “Council Member Bjornson appreciated the work of Campus Coalition and what a great job they have done. She would like the emphasis of enforcement on the few property owners that do cause a problem and appreciation of the property owners that work with their tenants and improve the neighborhood.” Unfortunately, the efforts of the Campus Community Coalition (of which I am a member) cannot address the issue of illegal rooming houses. Enforcement emphasis on the “few” problem property owners does not attend to the totality of the matter of illegal rooming houses.

I will be writing each of the winners over the next several days to remind them of the seriousness of the proliferation of illegal rooming houses and to insist they take a stand for enforcement of the current code. Only then will it be the moment to speak to tangential subjects, such as landlord accountability ordinances (which I support in general terms). I invite all my readers to contact the winners (email addresses provided below) and demand their support in eliminating illegal rooming houses throughout Bellingham.

Dan Pike -

Louise Bjornson -

Terry Bornemann -

Stan Snapp -

Barry Buchanan -

Jack Weiss -

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