Monday, February 25, 2008

Herald Article on Illegal Rooming Houses

My thanks to Sam Taylor for giving the issue of illegal rooming houses a front row seat in this morning’s Herald. You can read the story by clicking here. My last two blog entries (click here and here) spoke to the three choices offered by city officials in response to the motion by Terry Bornemann which the council passed last October 8th. I support the first option which is to hire a separate compliance officer. There is a lot of work to be done to clean out our neighborhoods and restore their character. This will be more than enough work for one person. I ask the council to decide if our neighborhoods are worth $106,000. The citizens will be watching the value the city council members attach to their well-being.

I support, in concept, moving the infractions for creating illegal rooming houses to civil offenses. This has been done in other areas and seems to provide a more efficacious means to enforce the law. That being said, the issue of illegal rooming houses remains the primary enforcement target. I have said many times in this blog that we cannot fight the deterioration of our single family neighborhoods by going after symptomatic litter, noise and parking infractions. If we do not solve the density problems created by these illegal rooming houses (read multi-residential housing) in single family neighborhoods, we have done little to make zoning a meaningful term. It is the mere footprint of these illegal rooming houses which changes the character of neighborhoods.

Non-enforcement of the zoning code to date has also produced a permissive atmosphere where there is non-compliance with other codes (noise, litter, etc.). Landlords and tenants see that the city rarely responds to code violations on single family zoning. Like graffiti, if the city does not eliminate it as it appears, it grows beyond control. By strong enforcement the code, the city will create an atmosphere where landlords and tenants will think twice.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is good news to see we are beginning the conversation with those who have the power to do something about the issue.Would it be effective/prudent to bring the landlords into the process-- e.g., if citizens call the enforcement officer regarding the problems, the first step would be to contact the landlord to verify how many and who are contracted to rent the facility? It seems to me some pressure/responsibility should be put on the landlords, other than just to collect the rent.Lynn Gobush

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is ridiculous. It makes way more sense to enforce current code - in regards to loudness, trash, and the general results of having many people living in the same house, than combating the "cause." You forget that not all college students are terrible people, and in fact many are quite considerate.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
February 25, 2008 1:09 PM

You are correct in saying that not all college students are terrible people. In fact, the vast majority of them aren't terrible or even bad people. The vast majority of them are, in my opinion, probably pretty good people. That has nothing to do with this issue, however. The fact is that most of them living in these rooming houses are 'immature' people due to their age and lack of real time experience living in a community of people that are no longer college students or never were college students. Immaturity, when grouped together in large groups causes problems. You know it and we know it. You seem to want to use the 'cause' as the excuse when the cause is just what I've stated above....immaturity. That isn't a crime by the way, but a condition that needs to be treated by people willing to live with the results or better yet, the person who parented these individuals to their present condition. It isn't up to the rest of us to train the immature that we didn't bring into the equation. It also isn't up to the rest of us to put up with the results of this immaturity, which has a time and a place...just not where it is now. If you think I'm wrong on the immaturity issue, just go the to the comments section of the Bellingham Herald after today's front page story.

Larry M.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many people have posted on here that disagree with you, and yet you don't post them...way to go, a true blog will allow all to be heard...I think that over 90% disagree with you...

zonemaven said...

Dear Anonymous,

Well, I published you.

I would like to hear about your poll and the 95% figure.

I approve all comments that stick to the topic, be they for or against my propositions. I will not publish ad hominem attacks or those which contain vulgarity or threats.

Anonymous said...

It's SO refreshing that a loud minority of complainers weren't able to "run over" the city council last night!!! Parking, litter, and noise are concerns --NOT how many people you can "catch" living under one roof --Hurray the city did it right!!

Anonymous said...

A comment for anonomous 12:27 p.m-
Don't you realize that the loud parties, litter and parking problems are a symptom of the lack of enforcing the municipal code related to "rooming houses"?
Do you not realize that people who speak up are not just "complainers" but are people who have the courage to stand up for what they believe to be right?
Think about it for awhile. Investigate the problem. You may change your mind if you do.