Friday, December 7, 2007

Letters from the York Neighborhood

These missives come from residents of the York Neighborhood. I will not comment on them as I feel that they speak for themselves quite nicely.

"Last night, just before midnight my mom got a call from a terrified neighbor who's house was being attacked by 20 to 30 Western students. This has happened to my mother many times over the years. Also, there is a rise in home invasions by students who are altered to the point of blackout. The charges that these students get for their increasingly dangerous behavior are minimal. If students are old enough to live in the community, their criminal behavior needs to be charged appropriately. M is going to e-mail you also so please put her comments on your blog. Thanks,

PS Please no names."

And another

"Saturday night's snowfall brought out the York hooligans (students) en masse. Around 10:30 PM a large group of 25+ converged on Potter St. between Grant and Franklin for a noisy, aggressive snowball fight. Their numbers swelled as others, attracted to the melee, arrived from all directions; some armed with bats(baseball?) To me this presented personal danger as well as a threat to my property. I called 911 and requested immediate police protection. When I saw one of the males under my bedroom window, trespassing, I opened the window and yelled "Get off my property". This was met by the usual f--- you and a fusillade of snowballs thrown by him and his friends at me, my window and house. Fearing a visit by the police they quickly dispersed into the night. The police did arrive shortly thereafter.

If anybody wonders why Western students are not welcome in our neighborhoods take a look at the behaviour they display. Aside from the usual drunken disorderly conduct, vandalism and illegally entering private residences etc. we are witness to their ability tof form a large group on any occasion. This presents a real riot potential especially when fueled by alcohol and drugs. The York Neighborhood is not a safe place for people living alone, senior citizens or families with children Who does this leave? STUDENTS. If Western does not own up to its responsibilities and keep them on campus, we might as well all move out and let them have the neighborhood (campus).

Richard, please don't print my name."

And this:

"The crowd had dispersed before the police arrived. Therefore, there was not contact by the police with them. No doubt they knew that I would call 911 after my altercation regarding trespass.

Western students are in over abundance in this neighborhood and responsible for many of the problems here. These people were definitely not of high school age nor were they homeless. No, I can't prove they were Western students since I didn't card them.

There have been several incidents in this neighborhood of drunken individuals either breaking in or entering unlocked doors. One was arrested in someone's living room stark naked. Stoned. The police talked the homeowner out of pressing charges.

My neighbor across the street had their back door kicked in and found someone in their kitchen at 3:00 AM. They did press charges and he was convicted of malicious mischief and required to pay restitution for damages. Several other people I know experienced drunken students entering their homes. Unfortunately, they did not report this to the police. People are afraid to file charges or put their names to anything. I have not experienced any of the above, probably because I have a large dog.

A lot of these kinds of issues go unreported because of fear of reprisals and targeting. I am waiting to see what comes my way after Sat. night.

I am utterly fed up with B'ham, Western and the York neighborhood and look forward to the day I can move out."


Common'Tator said...

Fact patrol-
Naked dude was never arrested, nor did my relatives wish to press charges. He was given a ride home by the cops, after my relatives gave him a shirt to cover up with, which he returned the two days later, washed and folded, apologizing profusely. He was 24 at the time, and employed, not a student. He had way too much to drink and a roofied drink to boot. Now the joke is when waiting at the front porch to get let in, is that you have to take your clothes off...

While college age kids can be a little crazy, your letter writers are making the york neighborhood out to be some sort of hooligan ghetto, which it's not. Last Friday we attended the annual progressive dinner, close to 40 different people traveling house to house. Not one complaint about safety from anyone I spoke with.

In my opinion the college age kids, who have goals and are going somewhere are the people you want as rental tenants. Not young hooligans who are just crashing as many to a house as possible, working just enough to get a baker season pass and malt liquor for the evenings.

As I do every year I speak with my neighbors asking them for heads up on gatherings and informing them I do call the cops. Most the time college kids get it.

I do agree that the renting agreement/enforcement needs to happen. Additionally the party bus needs to be brought back to bust large gatherings as these are the real danger as they draw in people who don't live in the area to party, get drunk and break stuff.

But a good relationship with college age neighbors, heck all neighbors, will accomplish more than the police ever can.

The rules need to be enforced with regards to noise and housing ordinances and the city needs to make this a priority. Sensationalizing the situation doesn't help.

Anonymous said...

I think one of the really important messages here is that the City of Bellingham's refusal to enforce the law in regards to illegal rooming houses has created a climate of ill-will in the neighborhoods.Many of the mature adult population & home owners now consider the young adults renting in our neighborhoods as a threat,a liability, an irritant or a criminal element irregardless of their actual intent. And the young adults view the mature adults & homeowners as inflexible, unfriendly and not approachable.It's so very sad what can happen when we disregard the laws that were designed to assist
people to live together in harmony.
Are you paying attention Mayor Pike?

A grown-up said...

It is true that all students are not bad, but the students who are supported by advocates in the York neighborhood are not among the innocent. Most of the negative behavior of students in the York neighborhood is encouraged by those who cover up and make excuses for their unacceptable behavior. Grow-up, older adults , and act your age.

Glad to be out. said...

I used to live in the York neighborhood with my mother, but have since moved out to another nieghborhood and every Friday and Saturday night I would hear student parties. I would frequently be woken up on school nights also ,when I had to go to school the next day. I understand from what I've heard that the problem has gotten much worse. I've had to stay over night at my mother's house on Halloween and 4th of July nights just to make my mother feel safe because her house has been attacked and vandalized so many times and targeted in retaliation for her calling the police on the student's parties. I would much rather stay in my neighborhood on those nights because it's not nearly as bad over here. The current tactic of the rapidly shrinking minority in that neighborhood who are the neighborhood group ( The York Neighborhood asscociation does not represent the interests of the neighbors, rather the interest of the neighborhood store and the students who they make their profits off of by selling beer to them) is to marginalize those who complain, about what is obviously a very real problem in the neighborhood in order to protect the interests of a select few clueless nieghbors who do not have the best interests of the neighborhood's tax paying, long term neighbors at heart. My mother has lived in the York neighborhood for over 30 years, longer than any of the people who cover up the problem and marginalize those who complain. It's not "uncool" to stand up for your rights in a neighborhood you've lived in for 30+ years. I've heard people say things like "the students have the right to live there too," while this is true , they do not have the right to break the law. I am so happy that I've moved out of the York neighborhood. I feel sorry for my mother who still lives there and hope she can move soon too. I've heard many neighbors from my neighborhood's neighborhood group talking about what serious problems the York neighborhood has. Everyone else knows that there is a problem, why dosen't the little cabal in the York neighborhood who make excuses for and cover up the student's behavior, wake up and address it. For the good of the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind the parties too much.

Anonymous said...

I love the York Neighborhood. I disagree that loud parties are our biggest problem. Yes there are some loud parties sometimes and some of the houses have messy yards. I've got a family and a job so I don't take part in keggers but I understand why the students enjoy them. I encourage those who dispise the parties to consider where are these kids supposed to congregate and meet people? Our puritan drinking laws prohibit young adults from going to the bar. Our rule-crazy government doesn't allow drinking at city parks. Where are these kids supposed to get away? As an aside, I challenge those of you calling for enforcement of the 3-unrelated-people-per-house to describe how that law is constitutional and to describe why a house with 3 people would be more likely to have a loud party than a house with 4.

Honestly, our biggest problem is people speeding through the neighborhood.

zonemaven said...

This is in response to the anonymous poster of 13 December. I am happy you like the York Neighborhood and I expect that most residents also like living there, even those who complain. One does not usually complain about that in which you have little interest. I agree that the young men and women of Bellingham should have an opportunity to have a good time but not at the expense of others or in violation of the law. There is no inherent right to party, drink, urinate in public, disturb the peace, etc. Furthermore, the issue is essentially that of illegal rooming houses, not student behavior. As you implied, one can have a large party whether there are 3 or 10 renters. If you have read the entirely of my blog, you will note that my arguments primarily refer to the effects of illegal rooming houses as they inherently change the character of a neighborhood by their larger footprint. In addition, the city, by ignoring some codes, inadvertently gives the impression that code enforcement in general will be lax. This spills into other code violations such as noise, litter and parking which tend to proliferate where lax enforcement of illegal rooming houses exists. As for the constitutionality of our zoning law regarding more than three unrelated people in a single family home, the courts have already spoken on the issue. If you look at the links on the right side of my blog's home page, you will find several which point to court decisions upholding such ordinances.

Anonymous said...

Good points, Zonemaven. It's also important that those who desire some change in how our laws are enforced should remember that mud-slinging our neighbors only dis-credits us and makes us look foolish.Shame on us if we aren't able to put aside our differences to work together to make things better.

Anonymous said...

This is regarding the December 13th 9:26 PM comment : I completely agree. Mud slinging and marginalizing our neighbors for wanting change is totally unacceptable for positive change to happen. We should pull together and quit using ad hominem arguments and accusations that have nothing to do with the issue at hand and fix this problem. Name calling and accusing our neighbors of things like being "crazy" for complaining about being victimized is very counterproductive.

Anonymous said...

The problems that rooming houses bring to the York Neighborhood are symptoms of the underlying issue of lack of code enforcement. For those who try to deal with the problem by denial and cover-up, please stop. Like any other problem, solutions come with orderly complaints that hold the city rersponsible for enforcing codes that improve neighborhood character. Allowing college-age youth to play neighbors against each other will not improve the York Neighborhood. Without malice, report houses that operate as rooming houses if you really want to help the York Neighborhood. Attacking people is ineffective. The problems remain and grow until they cannot be covered-up. Report the problems. Don't marginalize people!