Monday, March 31, 2008

Herald Editor Arrives in the Twilight Zone

Scott Ayers, Editor of the Bellingham Herald, announced today that he has moved to the Columbia Neighborhood (click here to read his blog entry on his move). Even the Mayor congratulated him on the selection. I sincerely wish that he finds his choice a pleasant one, however, if experience is our best teacher, I fear he may soon know the real meaning of “character of our neighborhoods”. Alas, the Columbia Neighborhood is not immune to the ravages of illegal rooming houses - although to a lesser extent than in York, “Happy” Valley or Sehome. But at least Scott is renting (we note that he is in conformance with the law) and as a renter he can bail out in the event he finds himself surrounded by illegal rooming house rentals. Not so easy a task for those who have bought homes and who now have little recourse when surrounded by landlord-owned property of the worst kind. Here is a letter recently sent to Scott from a long time homeowner in the Samish Neighborhood. Copies were also sent to the Mayor Pike, members of the City Council, Linda Stewart of the Mayor’s Office, the City Attorney and Julie Shirley of the Herald.



Your comments in the Herald today referring to the no more than three rentals debacle.

You, as many do not understand fully or do not want to understand the problem: I will give you my perspective on this as I'm pushing hard for SOMETHING to be done to protect the right of the home owners who bought into a neighborhood, which they believed were going to be a family orientated (you know mom, dad, kids).

This code has been on the books for over 2 years [Note; this should likely read over two decades], put there by City Council to protect the Single Family Residential Neighborhoods. This code has not been enforced, has not been challenged in court, and currently is being talked to death. City appears to be scared to death of this. Why, you tell me? Now councilman Weiss is calling into question the definition of family. Recall the Charlie Manson family, Jim Jones, how about Wako Tex. All considered families. Get a group together, call it a family and live where ever you want, how you want, as long as you’re quiet.

My street, 52 houses, 30 - 40% rentals, problem houses, hardcore 2. Do I have a problem with rentals as such? No. Do I have a problem with more than three non-related living together? No. Do I have problems with an animal house rental that looks like trash? Yes, Lawn mowed once in 2 years? Yes. 6-8 cars parked everywhere? Yes, Steals water from the city because they are a ‘single family’ resident and pay the same rate as my wife and me? Yes. Drags down property values? Yes. Does the landlord live in town? No. Sell my house? No. I've lived here since 1965. Besides, who in there right mind, except another slum landlord wanting to have another rental for again another animal house would buy it. This is a cancer that is self feeding.

Have I talked with the students? Yes. Have I loaned students tools? Yes (each time having to get my materials back, as they “forgot”). Have I tried to tell the students what the neighborhood is like? Yes. Have I gone to WWU campus collation meetings? Yes. Each year a party(s) has to be shut down by BPD. Please don't say call the BPD for speeders or for trash. You and I both know that the police cannot/will not response as these needs are low priorities. Unless you can tell the police a narrow time window as to when the speeding is happening, it’s impossible for them to sit there for any length of time. So spare me that rhetoric, ok.

So my suggestion: leave the code as is, have inspections, enforcement be complaint driven. BPD is intelligent enough to see through frivolous complaints. Have a license required and a landlord accountable provision (including fines). Have rooming houses inspected just as apartment house/motels are. Make the tenants safe. I'm so sick of hearing our local politicians say ‘protect our neighborhood character and integrity’ then sit on their hands and tickle their own butts. Even Mr. Weiss during the campaign voiced protection of the neighborhoods.

How the stories change after elections. R-2 zoned areas are available for rooming and apt houses [so] why eliminate the R-1 zoned Single Family Residential Neighborhood? If Mr. Weiss get the no-more than 3 code removed, redefines the definition of family, any group that wants to live together and call themselves ‘family’ can. Kiss R-1 good by. Developers can build 9 bedroom homes, rent out bedrooms and call it the family of ‘up yours’ and it will be legal."

The author sent this to the addressees for information as he feared reprisals. Last week his home was vandalized. He has allowed me to publish it without attribution. Makes sense to me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think it's about time that our "elected officials" start working toward enforcing our laws and protecting our neighborhoods. Our city council members don't seem to be able to grasp that concept, instead they seem to believe that they can make decisions based on their own personal agendas.Shame on them.Councilman Weiss should be fired.
Mayor Pike needs to enforce the laws like he promised he would when he was running for mayor.Shame on him.Maybe he needs to stop thinking vacation and start paying attention to the issues.
-Middle aged and sick of the run around.