At-Large Council Member, Louise Bjornson penned an article on growth (that proverbial horse) which appeared today in the Bellingham Herald. You can read the article by clicking here. I cannot say that I disagree with the major premises of her article. That being said, there is a bit of a hollow ring to these phrases:
- ...growth…that does not impair the quality of life we all value.
- ...there is no need to sacrifice
- Our neighborhoods are essential to our quality of life, provide stability and predictability…
My sentiments, too. Sadly, we all know that the neighborhoods have already been impaired by the decades of neglect (that doggone barn door!) in enforcing the municipal code regarding single family zoning and have already been sacrificed on the altar of landlord supremacy. If the council and the city are to stand by the three statements made above, there is quite a bit of work to be done to reverse the neglect and to restore neighborhood character. To return to the status quo ante, vigorous enforcement of the codes is necessary. This will entail the hiring of additional enforcement personnel to assist the sole code enforcement officer. Bellingham has erroneously deemed that adequate for a city of 70,000-plus residents. Our current enforcement officer is stretched too thin. She simply cannot do it all.
So, as Louise states, “...the city of Bellingham must change a number of its building codes to encourage better urban design”, the city might want to remember the existing codes or it might not get much support from homeowners who are suffering the insidious, unplanned and uncontrolled infill of illegal rooming houses. This mess should be rectified before the city moves to devising new codes. Moreover, since selective or deficient enforcement has been the hallmark of the last few decades, who is to say any new codes will not discover similar lacunae when the city faces implementation.
While we are looking at the city of
Louise goes on to say, “Thus, there is no need to try to force inappropriate development into existing single-family neighborhoods by subdividing lots or forcing accessory dwelling units in them. Such shortsighted action would effectively end single-family neighborhoods in
We will be making no "smart choices" if we continue to build upon neglect and the urban blight that such disregard has produced.