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Family Home For Rent: $44,000/year

By On
• In Bellingham,

The 600 square foot 2-bedroom home stood at 1215 Humboldt St. for over 100 years (see photo below). Allowed to run down to a ruin, in 2014 the property was bought by Jon and Ginny Hansen for $125,000. The house was bulldozed and a 7-bedroom boarding house, masquerading as a single family home, was built on the 4,356 square foot lot. The house was immediately advertized for rent through Lakeway Realty. Obviously targeted to student renters, the craigslist ad (see copy below) asks for information about “your group.” This ought to dispel any notion that this enormous structure could actually serve as a rental for a family, especially at $3,650 per month or $44,000 per year. It also speaks of “tons of off-street parking” which, of course is available on the street twice a year, once during the summer and once during the winter holidays. However, the owners did provide a 4-car parking pad at the rear of the home by effectively paving over the existing backyard. Unfortunately, one of the parking spots is blocked by a guy wire (see photo below) from an adjacent telephone pole placed there by the power company on a public right-of-way. Hansen just paved around it.

To determine if the craigslist rental ad that appeared in May 2015 did, in fact, pertain to the 1215 Humboldt St. property, a member of the York Neighborhood posed as an interested renter and was directed to that same address. In all fairness, perhaps the owner does actually want to rent to a family but at that monthly rent (presumably plus utilities) the total layout for this home approaches $48,000 per year. Nothing like affordable infill housing for Bellingham.

A code violation enforcement complaint has been submitted on this Humboldt St. rental under BMC 20.08.020(F)(1). The rental is effectively an illegal rooming house. As for the Hansen-Iron St. rental megaplex that I wrote about on June 1st, the York Neighborhood has been told that the city is now investigating the Hansen property and associated permit requests. The city attorney is actively involved. According to Anne Mackie, a York Neighborhood Board member, “We are hopeful that some kind of enforcement action will take place.”

There is no doubt that there is a concerted effort on the part of the Hansens and Lakeway Realty to buy and raze older homes in existing neighborhoods. They then build faux single family homes to rent, subverting zoning, violating the BMC, and damaging the character of local neighborhoods. The city must stop this practice in its tracks before other developers decide that this is the wave of the future.

About Dick Conoboy

Writer • Member since Jan 26, 2008

Dick Conoboy is a recovering civilian federal worker and military officer who was offered and accepted an all-expense paid, one year trip to Vietnam in 1968. He is a former Army [...]

Comments by Readers

Barbara Perry

Jul 07, 2015

Hey City, how about a new law requiring a tree or large bush be planted for any adult resident of a home?  We could call it the new global warming renter and owner’s policy.

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Christy Nieto

Jul 07, 2015

Jon Hansen owns and is trying to sell a home on Cedarwood Ave., 2524 Cedarwood Ave. to be exact, and he fails to disclose in his listing that this house is a meth house. The family that almost purchased it last year ordered a home kit to test for meth after Jon Hansen refused to allow the health department to test it (that would have been a free test). After the buyers backed out he kept the house on the market until the health department made him remove the listing. There are lots of other details in there… I contacted his office a few times over the last year as a concerned neighbor and on behalf of several households because we wanted to know. His assistants basically told me that they didn’t have to tell me anything and that it tested very low and they were doing a great job cleaning it up and after that they would not return my calls.

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Dick Conoboy

Jul 08, 2015

Barbara,

Excellent idea about the trees!  This house rates an orchard.

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Dick Conoboy

Jul 08, 2015

Christy,

Thanks for your report on this Cedarwood property.  This is the second report I have received about this particular house.  Meth testing has yet to be placed on the city’s proposed rental inspection list which is still in draft.  The county has been working on changing the ordinance on meth which may have an effect on how the city can deal with this menace. I will check to see where the county is in the update process.  In the meantime read my post on the county county meth ordinance issue here:  http://www.nwcitizen.com/entry/county-methamphetamine-ordinance-sent-back-to-committee

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Dick Conoboy

Jul 08, 2015

Christy,

With respect to the Cedarwood property, the place was tested and found contaminated.  A state licensing contractor performed a cleanup of the premises and the Health Dept gave its approval of the cleanup.  You can call them (676-6724) and view the file that they now have on that house.  That being said, the property owner should probably disclose the former meth contamination to prospective buyers on the Seller Disclosure Form 17. 

There is a newly amended ordinance in Whatcom County regarding the actions to be taken if a house is contaminated by either smoking the chemical or producing it.  I have not been able to study those changes yet but will do so in the immediate future.  You can view the ordinance (strike version) at: http://documents.whatcomcounty.us/weblink8/0/doc/3345880/Page1.aspx?searchid=2bf2f321-70f7-453e-8cc2-4520d91435ce

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Clayton Petree

Jul 09, 2015

Bellingham currently has 580 units like this in single-family neighborhoods that have been upzoned to allow multifamily - those 580 units must be demolished and multifamily units built in their place for us to achieve our intensification goals.  Wonder if that could happen next to you?  Look at what your zone is.  I know big areas of Samish hill and Roosevelt neighborhood, and more, have this issue to deal with.  What’s sad is these are the most affordable homes in town that will be removed from the inventory.  Ugh, not the Bellingham I want to see.

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