The rental megaplex infection has spread from the York Neighborhood to the Sehome Neighborhood as the result of an open land wound occasioned by a fire that destroyed two rental homes on Jersey St. last October. Earlier outbreaks of this land use disease arose first on Humboldt St. and then moved stealthily across Lakeway Dr. to Iron St. where two additional properties succumbed to the malady. Again skipping across Lakeway Dr., a house on Grant St.was infected as you can read here.
This time in the 1000 block of Jersey St., the owner/landlord is yet again taking advantage of the city’s weakness in the face of enforcing its own codes, mainly those portions having to do with illegal rooming houses. He has filed plans to replace the homes that burned with two 5-bedroom homes with an “office” and a “sitting room” both of which are easily converted to bedrooms. (See design plans at the file below) With separate leases on each bedroom, the owner will bring in at least $500 per bedroom per month for a total yearly rent of $42,000. Thus the creation of another two single family homes that are likely to remain well out of the reach of Bellingham workers and their families, many of whom do not even have yearly incomes of $40,000 taxes.
Complaints already filed against the code violations on Humboldt, Iron and Grant Streets have been looked into by the city whose stance is to “monitor” the situation. Not once has the code actually been enforced. The landlords thumb their collective noses at the city and run laughing to the bank with annual rents on single-family dwellings cum illegal- rooming-houses of $30,000 to $40,000.
Yet, nothing is being asked of the landlords by the city whose sole reaction seems to be providing more “incentives” by reducing impact fees or eliminating them for developers in order to HOPE, PRAY AND WISH for some sort of affordable housing to be built, as if by magic, through landlord munificence.In the meantime, the neighborhoods of working class residents, especially those near the university, are told to suck it up… the demolition of existing homes, the noise, the crowding, the cars, the traffic, the parties and the litter.