Thursday, March 6, 2008

Solving the Problem

The following was posted on the Bellingham Herald website in response to a letter to the editor written by Rick Chartrand (click here to read Rick’s original letter).

“Rick and friends:

What is your suggestion for solving this problem? I don't think Jack disagrees that there's a problem but the blogmaven (sic) and gang should offer a solution. Instead you fall into the name-calling trap. Yuck.

Do you want landlord licensing? Then say so! Speak up! Advocate for it! You present nothing specific, just a lot of complaints with no ideas or solutions. Step up! Be helpful!

And yes, I live near Western. Yes, I broke up a party Friday night. Yes, I think the city can do something. But I see no other solution than landlord accountability but the last time that was on the agenda, you were where exactly? (I was there.)

Step up! Stop namecalling (sic)!

foes of mean people society”

Well, I probably can be considered as a part of the “friends” category addressed by this comment (and by the way it is Zonemaven and we are not a gang). The fact is that I have been proposing solutions all along, however, few people take the time to read those portions of my blog or if they do, they forget they have read them.

First, you have to enforce the code to clean up the neighborhoods and restore confidence that the city will protect the neighborhoods. Once code enforcement begins, the pressure to find legally affordable housing will mount and an open and trustworthy dialogue regarding controlled infill can begin.

Second, WWU must be told that in order to get a slice of the pie at the waterfront table, it will have to start taking more of a role in housing all those students it has attracted to its campus. This can be done with public-private partnerships, exactly as WWU is planning with respect to such partnerships to build their dream campus annex at the waterfront.

Third, with mounting pressure to provide affordable housing, the city will be forced to focus on attracting such housing, perhaps also through public-private ventures. Until now, the city feels little pressure as it has been using illegal rooming houses in the single family neighborhoods as a safety valve.

Fourth, the city needs to license landlords and provide for inspection of rental premises. With all these unlicensed, uncontrolled and uninspected rentals, it is courting disaster. Will it take a fire or some similar event in one of these places to get their attention?

Fifth, WWU needs to review its stand on sanctioning student behavior off-campus. Perhaps the next president of WWU will be more sensitive to the effect of thousands and thousands of its students on the surrounding community.

Last, the city vigorously enforces its nuisance codes on noise, litter, parking, etc.

You can read Rick Chartrand's own response to "foes of mean people society" by clicking on the image on the upper left.

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