Thursday, July 31, 2008

More on Call to Action - 4 August City Council Meeting

The agenda for the City Council meeting of 4 August has appeared on the City Council web page. Click here to go to the meeting materials page. You can also click on the images above to bring up the agenda bill on the family definition.

We still need your input to the City Council on changing the definition of family. We also ask that you plan to speak your 3 minutes at the public comment period at the beginning of the meeting. Ideally, the Council can decide to go forward now without changing the number from 3 to 4.

The action on the 4th of August will consist of a committee briefing. Since the amendment is of a development regulation it must go through several public hearings. The staff recommendation contains language increasing in the number of unrelated people from 3 to 4, in addition to language including state registered domestic partners. One other change eliminates the use of the phrase “single dwelling unit” and replaces it with the phrase “single housekeeping unit”. Since there is no definition offered of “housekeeping unit”, it is difficult to assess the further import of such a change. The Bellingham Municipal Code is silent on the definition of “housekeeping unit”, therefore, I surmise a definition must be created.

The Washington Administrative Code uses the term “housekeeping unit” but only it in its definition of a "family dwelling unit."

Family dwelling unit. "Family dwelling unit" means the dwelling unit occupied by a single person, any number of related persons, or a group not exceeding a total of eight related and unrelated nontransient persons living as a single noncommercial housekeeping unit. The term does not include a boarding or rooming house.

The City of Boston has adopted this rather wordy definition of “single housekeeping unit”:

A “single housekeeping” unit for the purposes of this section shall mean two or more persons, not so related, but living together as a single housekeeping unit. Persons shall be living as a single housekeeping unit when all members of the housekeeping unit are parties to a common lease or rental agreement that also provides for a period of tenancy common to all members, a common right to use and enjoy the entire dwelling or dwelling unit, despite informal arrangements among members to designate certain areas as individualized sleeping spaces; a single periodic rent payment to the owner or owner’s agent. Additionally, members sharing household living arrangements, including but not limited to, utility payments, groceries and common sanitary, living and cooking supplies and or facilities shall also be an indication that a dwelling or dwelling unit is being occupied as a “single housekeeping unit.”

See you at the City Council meeting on the 4th at 7 pm. Arrive early and sign up for your three minute comment period.

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