Samish Way Experience - Drug Dealing Dangers?

By On

This short description of an experience was posted by John Stark on his Sehome Neighborhood website and is reprinted here with his permission. As most readers know, John recently retired from decades as a reporter for the Bellingham Herald.

Samish Way has a history going back decades as a place for drug deals, just as some other sectons of Bellingham also have, such as Railroad Avenue, Maplewood, Texas Street, and a couple others. We post this so readers have a chance to possibly comment and add more perspectives or experiences.

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Here is John's short post.

Just a warning: The intersection where Laurel runs into Abbott, behind the Aloha Motel on the route many of us take to get to Samish Way for trips to high school, Haggen's etc., is now a criminal activity zone. People doing business in this zone do not appreciate the presence of other people. This afternoon…, I was headed down to Haggen's and was stopped behind a big black SUV, expecting him to pull out into the intersection. He stayed where he was. A guy to my left started yelling, “Pull around!” I didn't realize he was yelling at me. Next thing I know, the SUV does pull forward, then pops into reverse and intentionally rammed my car hard enough to crack the bumper. Then he took off. I actually chased him for a few seconds, making a circuit of the Days Inn parking lot, trying to get a plate number, but I only got a partial. Phoned what I had into police. Later on I went on to Haggens—I was going to detour around the Aloha, but then I said, No, I am not going to give them the street. I was also hoping I might see the perpetrator again and get a good plate number—no such luck. I went through there again on the way back, or tried to—but the street was blocked by fire and Medic One. They were hauling a guy out of the Aloha on a stretcher. Terry Bornemann—I'm sure you are well aware of what is going on over there. It has always been sketchy, but it is flat out crazy now.

About John Servais

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

Doug Starcher

Sep 17, 2014

Now, EVERY time I go out Samish I drive behind The Aloha…. a little sunshine helps!

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Abe Jacobson

Sep 17, 2014

Thanks for carrying John Stark’s sad account.

Since I live on upper Samish Way (near 40th St), I frequently commute through the lower Samish neighborhood on the way to town or points northwest of town. Most of the time this is on a bike, which allows me to absorb more details of what is going on in a neighborhood.

On almost every trip, I see some kind of antisocial behavior going on, usually confined to littering, leaving shopping carts far from the market, dangerously J-walking, drinking alcohol in public… that sort of thing.

Not surprisingly, the neighborhood is also a collecting area for the disabled, the destitute, and the undocumented immigrants. I usually see a lot of people who are obviously mentally ill, or physically disabled/injured, through no fault of their own. Lots of non-English-speaking folks in the trailer park and the motels on the North end, such as the Aloha, are a necessary corollary to our anti-union, low-wage economy that imports cheaper labor rather than pay enough to hire local people at family-wage jobs. The whole area is a poster child for the societal costs of America’s dominant corporate behavior, which privatizes profit and socializes externalities. Some of those externalities are in full display at lower Samish Way.

These externalities are not a “bug” in the American operating system 2.0; they’re a feature. With one-bedroom apartments running upwards of $800, it takes a $17/hr wage to support the worker and one other person (child, or spouse, or other dependent) in Bellingham, with a bare-bones existence. Our service economy’s vast entry level in Bellingham features minimum-wage jobs, with less than $40 hrs/week and irregular schedules. Do the math: Lower Samish Way did not happen by an Act of God.

If the Mayor and City Council want to deal with this, they should suspend the planned expenditure of $200-million on infrastructure for the Port, and instead do the many things required to fix Lower Samish Way and its analogs elsewhere, like parts of Birchwood:
(a) Condemn all the bottom-feeder motels, like Aloha and Mac’s. Raze the structures and rehab the sites. No more weekly/monthly dives.
(b) Double the number of cops on the beat in Bellingham. This is expensive, and not the sort of thing mayors are eager to do. Our cops are good, but they’re scattered too wide. A neighborhood cop, or a team of them, is badly needed in neighborhoods like Lower Samish Way.
(c) Enact a living-wage standard in all Bellingham employment. We can no longer afford as a city to cover the externalized costs thrown our way by Walmart, Arby’s, McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, K-Mart, Target, and all the rest of the poverty-wage employers. Having cheap labor is too expensive!

One City Council member declared during the recent campaign that “the future for Bellingham is the Port”. Well, that is true, but ironically, to the extent that the future glory of our city certainly isn’t Lower Samish Way. Nor is it Birchwood.. Nor is it .... [fill in the blank].

Abe Jacobson
Bellingham

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