Although the Zonemaven was out of town for most of December, he was not out of touch with the latest in the world of illegal rooming houses. You may remember a previous post six months ago on this blog in which the Zonemaven described the deterioration of the character of 34th St. in the Samish Neighborhood due to lack of enforcement of city codes. (Click here and then scroll down to read that part of the entry on 34th St.) Not much has changed since, in spite of numerous complaints to various governmental entities. Here is a quote from an email sent to city officials on January 3rd by a long-time resident of 34th St. It is a bit telegraphic in style, but the Zonemaven believes you will get the gist.
“We are now entering our 5th year with more than one (4) illegal rooming houses in our neighborhood. 1127 34th St. is currently in foreclosure. This house has 7 bedrooms. Now what do you think will become of this parcel. And we are at what point?????
Same place as 4 years ago!!!! Are we having fun yet?
Here is listing of the latest activities at 1306 34th St.:
- Dec 31, 2009 Two Sheriff patrol cars in the drive way at @ 2:10 PM . Anyone willing to share WHY? Do we as neighbors arm ourselves, buy attack dogs, purchase body armor? Just what/who do we have in our neighborhood??
-Jan 1, 2010 (10:45 am) Remaining cars after the New Year’s party. 12 cars. 4 parked on street. Recall this is a narrow 2 lane road with no sidewalks on this portion of 34th St.
-Jan 1, 2010 8:20 am. 7 cars.
Let’s do a recap of 2009 for 1306 34th St (since the start of college in 2009).
-3 (possibly 4) 911 calls. ALL BY DIFFERENT NEIGHBORS
-2 calls to animal control, as the dogs were harassing walker and bikers. Banished dogs return one more time after that and ran the neighborhood.
-5 FORMAL complaints provided to city in 2009. ALL BY DIFFERENT NEIGHBORS. Formal complaints are a yearly event.
-Friday night parties every Friday night except 2 weekends since college started mid 2009.
Same absentee slumlords... Out of sight out of mind.
This house problem has spanned the following:
3 Mayors, numerous city council personnel, 2 Chiefs of Police and the SAME CITY ATTORNEY.
May the New Year bring you folks Peace and Prosperity. We know what we have in store.”
As Bellingham lumbers into 2010, can we expect to see action from the City Council on these problems? The most recent Council meeting on rental housing licensing was on December 7th, 2009, over a year after the Council’s staff study on the subject was available in draft form. They decided to ask their Legislative Policy Analyst to look into the development of a rental licensing law which would include self-certification by landlords and a possibility of inspection on a complaint-only basis. (See the video of the Council’s decision by clicking here. Fast forward the video to minute 202.5 where the discussion begins).
The Zonemaven finds the Council's approach unacceptable and opines that any rental housing licensing that only requires registration, followed by self-certification is a waste of time. It is much like having restaurants self-certify that they are abiding by the health code rules and depending only on complaints from those who dine in these establishments. In that case, we might easily find ourselves afflicted with the “green apple two-step” from eating food prepared in kitchens that the owners “think” are clean. Rentals, as well as restaurants, are accommodations offered to the public and, as such, should be inspected regularly. This is in contrast to private homes that do not serve the public as rentals. Arguments to conflate the rental and the owner occupied single family homes are specious in this regard.