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Megaplex Infection Spreads to Sehome

By On
• In Bellingham,

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 before 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.

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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

Jon Humphrey

May 18, 2018

I never understand how we can allow landlords to constantly rake in more and more cash while their behaviors overwhelm already stressed systems and do not lead to more affordable housing for workers. There is no way we will have accurate statistics on how many people are living in these dwellings, and we will all collectively experience things like gridlock traffic, less reliable power, lower quality of water and sewer services, etc. If we are increasing the number of people in town, then it only makes sense to tax the people responsible for that (aka the landlords you mention here) for the necessary improvements that should be installed in the community. Why should 90% of us expereince decreased quality of life while landlords rake in more and more money on unaffordable housing with virtually no responsibility applied to them for their behavior? Housing is a necessity.  We need to house our workers first. Where do people expect the people that make this town work everyday to live? Are we becomming a snob community like West Hartford, CT or the Yale section of New Haven, where we are pricing the good people that make our town work everyday out of it? 

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David Camp

May 18, 2018

Dick - you are absolutely correct - these plans are specifically designed to house multiple young single people. I mean, Jersey St. is within walking distance of  Western. What on earth would you expect in a college town but housing for students? 

I agree that a public bank is a good idea. Why not do something about setting one up in an organized way rather than peeing into the wind on this DADU issue? A public State bank would also allow all the legal tax-oaying cannabis businesses to have a bank account like a normal business instead of having to deal in cash like a criminal. I’m sure you would agree that this is equitable and just and achievable. Unlike lobbying the city to enforce unenforceable bylaws. 

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Dick Conoboy

May 19, 2018

David,

The DADU ordinance was approved by council.  Not sure why you are still talking about it since it was not mentioned in my article.  Considerable work is being done by Seattle to get a public bank.  This effort includes working with the lawmakers in Olympia to pass laws to facilitiate such banking.  Of course, the banking associations are going birdshit over this because it would take a huge chunk out of their assets when counties and cities (not to mention the state) put their collective billions of dollars into their own public banks.  I have brought this up to the city council on several occasions in the past year or so but THEY are the ones who would rather piss into the DADU fan instead of doing something (public banking) that would have monumental ramifications in the decades ahead.   This council has no collective vision and most of its members have articulated no guiding and intergrated political philosophy. 

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David Camp

May 21, 2018

Dick - my rather clumsily-expressed point was that if you had devoted the same  amount of time to lobbying for a public bank instead of to fanning the flames of anti-DADU zealotry, we might be closer to having one.  You are an influential person who can write and argue logically, plus you have the time to do so. 

All I can say is if you are unhappy with the calibre of our part-time and low-paid City councilors, you should run. I’d vote for you. Especially if you promoted a public bank, and promised to work for one if elected. A State-regulated bank could serve local interests without federal interference, if properly constituted. And making things happen on a local level is actually achievable, unlike making changes on a federal level, where the scale of the inertia combined with the extreme concentratiion of influence make it almost impossible to change anything for the better. This has been clearly shown by a study - that the wishes of the majority of citizens on many issues are ignored in favor of the wishes of the oligarchy., or rather, the cartels through which the oligarchy runs things.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/15/government-wealthy-study_n_5154879.html

 

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Ronna Loerch

Jun 14, 2018

A State run Public Bank is one of OCCUPY BELLINGHAMs “demands”.  And yes we are stil here - fighting the good fight that OCCUPY WALL STREET started in 2012.  We are a small group of about 10 people (on a good day) with a list serve of 50 and a mailing list of 450.  While we KNOW, without much doubt , the value of a public bank we have no expertise to do anything but suport the idea when it arrives.  

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