One must catch one's breath!
The vote of the Bellingham City Council on Monday night is a stunning reversal of the consensus of the council from earlier this year, at which time only a weak rental registration program was under consideration. Much of the credit for the passage of this ordinance surely goes to the Western Washington University students who have worked hard over the past 4-5 years. They spoke the truth to the opposition (the landlords) whose arguments to defeat this measure were astoundingly repudiated by the 7-0 vote. No stronger message could have been sent.
Also in for thanks are council members Jack Weiss and Michael Lilliquist who worked hard behind the scenes to shepherd this measure to passage. Dozens of Bellingham citizens also worked diligently over the last 10 years to speak to the reality of renting in Bellingham.
Based on a meeting I had several weeks ago with our new planning director, Rick Sepler, I expect we will see rapid action in putting this measure into effect. Rick seems to me to be a no-nonsense manager who will meet deadlines and develop accurate information for the council. Nevertheless, we still need to be vigilant about a process that has yet to be developed to register rentals and then begin inspections in 2015.
Again, thanks to our City Council for this measure to ensure the health and safety of the tenants in Bellingham.