Last Saturday about 40 citizens met to discuss growth issues for
Only two members of the Bellingham City Council attended. Nobody came from the present Whatcom County Council but there may have been one from the County Planning Commission. Not a soul came from the Bellingham Planning Commission. I know these folks are busy, however, had I been in their shoes, I would have wanted to hear directly from the citizens. But that is the view from my angle. The Herald was also noticeable in its non-attendance. I will resist the urge to further characterize these absences. [I do note that certain “experts” (government and private sector planners) will offer a teaching experience to
I also noticed the dearth of any people from the administration of
“When the students arrive, who cares where they rent?
That’s not our department, says WWU’s president.”*
The reason for my disappointment is the persitant disengagement of the university from a major quality of life issue for the permanent residents and homeowners of this town and from a situation in which the large numbers of its students distort the rental market rates and make it more and more difficult for a single family to rent a home in this city. I recently gave an example of this in my blog entry of last October 9th (click here to read the entry) wherein a family was forced out of a rental whose price rose to $2,200 per month and had to move to the county. Five students now rent the place illegally at $550/month each. The three members of the ousted family are now commuters from the county.
This warping of rental rates was also brought up during the meeting by a prominent member of the York Neighborhood, which has seen its share of illegal rooming houses but which also does more than most neighborhoods to be inclusive of all its residents. This neighborhood may soon be nominated for sainthood as it is considering actually working with the city on higher density infill on its downtown side border. (Click here to read the Herald article on the subject.) As commendable as this is, the neighborhood association ought to demand a quid pro quo from the city by which the city would rid the neighborhood of its plague of illegal rooming houses. In fact, if all the neighborhoods would adopt such a stance, perhaps the city would begin to pay attention to its codes and, by extension, to its neighborhoods.
*Thanks to mathematician and songwriter Tom Lehrer the spirit of whose lyrics I have appropriated here from the song entitled “Wernher von Braun”.
“Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?
That’s not my department, says Wernher von Braun.”
Check out the entire lyrics for this by clicking here.