Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Sting - Bellingham Style

The folks, who gave landlords a multi-million dollar gift this summer by agreeing that the citizens will pay for the placement of water meters ($8,000,000) on all single family home properties, have now handed another gift to other selected landlords. (Note: Since about 50% of single family homes are rented, up to half of that $8,000,000 will be used to pay for meters on income producing properties, i.e., rentals.) Click here to read my prior blog entry on this giveaway. You can also read a discussion of this issue at Eye on Whatcom (Click here to read the thread.)


Now, the city plans to spend about $500,000 of your tax money to replace private sewer lateral lines which then would come under city ownership. (Click here to read the Herald article on this subject) Again, since half of those properties are putative rentals, the city will provide another gift, this time up to $250,000, to the landlords, many of whom do not even live here.


Lest I be misunderstood, I agree in principle with this arrangement for live-in homeowners, however, I do not believe that a landlord (in the guise of a simple property owner) who is making money on her property, should get a free ride at our expense, while pocketing a monthly rental check. These money making operations (some are Limited Liability Companies, LLCs) ought to be paying a proportional share of the cost of replacement of these sewer lines.


Remember also, that these giveaways to rental home owners come from a city that told its citizens earlier this year that they could not afford to hire an additional code enforcement officer to ride herd on scofflaw landlords.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here's one I disagree with you on. If you spoke with the families (property owners) who were affected by the recent leakage in York neoighborhood, you would better understand the problem. Most sewer lines that serve more than 2 or even 3 households are publicly owned for a good reason and the fact that there are 14 in this community that aren't creates an undue burden on those individuals. Most of them live in older sections of town and this is a great time and approach to update our system. This is one of those times you should be cheering on local government, not griping. You should be careful of becoming on of those "gripe if gripe can" folks - it lessons the strength of your other arguments.

zonemaven said...

Dear Anon,

I attended the City Council meeting where the homeowners (two of whom were newly-weds and first time property owners) presented photos and and explanation of what had happened in the alley between two rows of homes served by a "private" sewer lateral. I was in complete sympathy with their cause. These laterals should be owned and maintained by the city. That being said, those whose properties are income producing entities (rentals) attached to these laterals, should not benefit from the public largesse.

Here is what I said in my original post: "Lest I be misunderstood, I agree in principle with this arrangement for live-in homeowners, however, I do not believe that a landlord (in the guise of a simple property owner) who is making money on her property, should get a free ride at our expense, while pocketing a monthly rental check. These money making operations (some are Limited Liability Companies, LLCs) ought to be paying a proportional share of the cost of replacement of these sewer lines."

I will cheer on local government at the moment it does something cheerful.

Anonymous said...

Dick,

I fail to see how the City's decision to blow $8 million on residential water meters is a gift to landlords. Since the people were not the ones who made this wasteful decision, how can you expect anyone (even landlords, who most certainly will not profit from this decision) to shell out more money for it?

The plain and simple truth is that the meters are a waste of money. Residential homes consume a very small amount of the City's water. Installing meters is not worth cost.

Anonymous said...

Dick,

I rarely agree with you, but I can usually at least follow your logic. This time I am at a complete loss as to how you arrive at the conclusion that live-in-homeowners are subsidizing rental owners. If half of all properties are rentals and half are live-in-owners then half of all income (taxes-property, utility fees, etc)to the City is from each group, right? If water meters need to be replaced then half of them will be at houses that are live-in and half at rentals, right? Where is the subsidy?

zonemaven said...

Dear AnonI and AnonII,

Any expense a landlord does not have to meet is money in her pocket. The issue of water meters being a waste of money is yet another discussion and not relevant to this one.

Regarding live-in homeowners subsidizing landlords, consider this. The landlord of the home across from mine will pocket $26,400 this year in rental payments along with a tidy sum from his other rentals throughout Bellingham. The man is running a business as is anyone who rents for a payment. Why do you expect that other homeowners should help shore up his profit by paying for his business expenses? I also note that the bulk of the $8.5 million will be financed with bonds. So, homeowner or not, all Bellinhghammers will be paying for the landlords.