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YIMBY Leader Scherrer Receives Realtor Award - What Significance for the City?

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• In Bellingham, Planning,

Talk about irony. The Whatcom County Association of Realtors( WCAR) has awarded Wendy Scherrer its “Partner of the Year” award for all her hard work to effect a “pilot project” for the rezoning of the Happy Valley neighborhood. Wendy and a small group of her neighbors, embraced the YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) mantra that cities can build their way to affordability if only those pesky zoning laws are removed or altered.

Later, Iris Maute-Gibson of the Planning Commission upped the ante in a commission meeting Sept. 7, 2017. No need for a Happy Valley pilot project for Maute-Gibson. “I don’t believe that we should have zoning for detached accessory dwelling units (DADUs) be based on a by-neighborhood basis… Every part of the city needs to step up and take responsibility for creating more housing available in Bellingham.” After just six months on the commission, Maute-Gibson had decided it was time to “go boldly” and “boldly go,” she said repeatedly. Roughly translated this means she wants to rezone all single family neighborhoods into what is, in effect, all multi-family. No objections to this from the Happy Valley Pilot Project YIMBY crowd, including Scherrer, to Maute-Gibson’s total rezone proposal that is now part of the draft ADU ordinance. Why ask the neighborhoods what is good for them? We YIMBYs know better for the whole city.

It’s terribly disappointing and disconcerting to see a one-time environmental leader like Scherrer being sucked into the biggest pro-development maneuver we have ever seen in Bellingham. And shame on WCAR for using her. DADUs will do nothing for housing affordability or homelessness. They’re all about short term rentals (vacation rentals for tourists) and absentee landlords getting a new way to make more money from our neighborhoods. Realtors are the ones who own most of the rentals in this town and see the YIMBYs as heaven sent.

YIMBY is a national pro-growth, infill in every neighborhood, anti-single family zoning movement fueled by support from the development industry. Karen Narefsky writes in Jacobin:

“YIMBYs look to the free market to solve the housing crisis. But the profit motive is what caused the affordability crunch in the first place…YIMBYism is…based on an embrace of the speculative housing market. It assumes that the cause of the housing crisis is a dearth of supply, and that the market will address the crisis if restrictions are lifted.”

The development industry and local realtors, many of whom own the once-affordable single family housing stock as their own personal
investments, are pleased to now partner with one-time environmental activist Scherrer. It is just what they need to provide cover for their never-ending attempt to overfill the city. Acceptance of this award has sadly and clearly put Scherrer in the camp of the monied (YIMBY) interests with the attendant loss of credibility.

Unfortunately, she has led the most divisive anti-neighborhood movement this town has ever seen, dragging Happy Valley, the Planning Commission, and now the entire city down a path that will only line the pockets of developers, landlords, and others who profit from construction and real estate. But some push-back has begun.

Reports from the January 18 Happy Valley Neighborhood Association verify there is opposition to Scherrer and sidekick, Shannon Maris (a local house designer), who were confronted with questions from the audience about some of the glossed-over aspects of a Happy Valley pilot project on DADUs… like requirements for owner occupancy, tree cover loss and the amount of open space required per lot. Support seems to be weakening. Bobbi Vollendorff, long-time Happy Valley resident and association officer said,

“Wendy made a statement a couple of times about how nice it would be for people in the hood to use the equity in their homes to build these DADUs and then always have some rent money coming in. Shannon Maris [a local residential designer] said she knew the city was beginning to work on an updated DADU ordinance when she first suggested the pilot project to Wendy, so my thought that this was the starting point on this adventure was correct. Basically, no one in the neighborhood challenged either one of them. It got a little testy when Shannon relayed that up to 70 percent of a single family lot could be covered [with structures]. That was my opening about the tree canopy issue, which drew attention.”

Happy Valley led the city in a volunteer-based tree planting program that spanned over 20 years and has literally changed the landscape of the neighborhood. Once farmland, then bulldozed for high-density housing, and then replanted to bring tree canopy back into the neighborhood, Happy Valley is well known for its environmental mind-set, until now. At one point as Maris was being pinned down on the lot coverage issue and carbon footprint, Sherrer reportedly piped up and said, “Well, we can look around and find a place to plant more trees to compensate for those that get cut down.” So much for tree canopy and the green overlay amendment to the HVNA plan.

Some neighbors feel like Scherrer and Maris have ramrodded this DADU rezone of the neighborhood. Is it the brainchild of just two residents, one of whom is in the housing design business, and the other who has recently been awarded “Partner of the Year” by the realtor association?

Yes, a picture’s worth a thousand words: See how pleased the realtors are in the photo above. Mary Kay Robinson, former president of WCAR and Republican County Council candidate last year, and Perry Eskridge, WCAR Government Affairs attorney, have reason to smile. WCAR contributed in-kind services to the Happy Valley group that was pushing the YIMBY program for DADUs in the neighborhood’s single family zoned areas. What does this alliance represent? Why are the realtors so pleased with rezoning single family neighborhoods to fill-in backyards? Is it because their members own so many houses and will continue to profit from the rental market they control? Those were evidently not questions asked by the YIMBYs, but was that out of ignorance or by design?

Let me also remind you of a couple things about the WCAR representatives in the photo. Ms. Robinson, former president of WCAR, was the one who advised landlords to ignore the city ordinance on illegal rooming houses, writing in a comment thread on Bigger Pockets: “So for investment purposes - I see no legal reason that it (a house) cannot be rented out to 3 or more unrelated persons. If you see an opportunity for investment, go for it.” The realtor ethics office must have been closed that day.

And as for the attorney, Eskridge, he was the WCAR’s point man in their effort to defeat the city’s rental licensing and inspection ordinance. Which shows how little realtors worry about the health and safety of about half the city’s population—tenants. The realtors assured us that poor conditions in rentals was fiction or, at worst, confined to a few “bad apples.” Up to 50% of rental units subsequently failed initial inspection. Shocking! Additionally, WCAR is heavily behind the move for annexation of the Urban Growth Areas to expand land supply. They did not get their way on that issue with the City Council and now must push for rezoning to boost land supply for their enrichment. Are the realtors fueling this YIMBY group in Happy Valley? Sure looks like it.

[Note: The Planning Commission will hold a hearing on the topic of Accessory Dwelling Units on January 25 at 7pm in city council chambers.]

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

Larry Horowitz

Jan 21, 2018

Nice optics!

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Anne Mackie

Jan 22, 2018

Thank you, Dick, for helping to connect the dots. As someone who worked on two neighborhood rezones and lengthy Plan updates, which took two years, I know the Planning Dept. required our neighborhood association to mail notices to every property owner inviting them to participate in multiple meetings. I had to hire a local mail house to assist with this because it was so massive an undertaking.  Did the same rules apply in Happy Valley with their YIMBY proposal? Seems not. And now we all may get this top-down change to our zoning? Hopefully, people are waking up to what’s happening. Your article helps to put the citizens back in the driver’s seat. I think that’s what Northwest Citizen is all about.

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Derek Long

Jan 22, 2018

Wendy Scherrer accepted a Housing Hero award in November of 2017 from a number of organizations working hard every day for the good of our community, including the Opportunity Council, Kulshan Community Land Trust, Whatcom County Health Department, Sustainable Connections, and Unity Care NW. 

Dick, I wonder if you considered interviewing Wendy for your article or would consider doing so for a future article. I think readers would benefit from hearing her perspective. 

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Larry Horowitz

Jan 22, 2018

Derek, I believe Wendy’s perspective is reflected in her Nov 17, 2017  Herald op-ed, which Wendy also posted on Nextdoor.

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Dick Conoboy

Jan 22, 2018

Derek,

I would expect that Wendy would comment here on NWCitizen. 

Dick

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Perry Eskridge

Jan 22, 2018

When I prepared the introduction for Ms. Sherrer at our awards ceremony, I was overwhelmed by this strong woman’s accomplishments.  She is a staunch advocate for environmental steawardship, has a genuine concern for her fellow citizens, and is a cheerleader for the Happy Valley Neighborhood.  I can also tell you that Wendy has disagreed with some REALTOR® actions and was a formidable adversary in those circumstances.  

When Wendy approached the REALTORS® with the YIMBY project, her stated purpose was to elevate the level of discussion concerning housing opportunities in Bellingham.  She discussed the need for a demonstration project and believed that Happy Valley Neighborhood could be the leaders we needed.  We warned her that at some point this would happen - the neighborhood advocates would attempt to discredit her and make her the villain.  Were we wrong?  

This article answers that question.  

Mr. Conoboy, I suspect, did not contact Ms. Sherrer to obtain her views.  I know he did not contact anyone from the REALTORS® Association.  Yet that has never prevented Mr. Conoboy from speculating on what our motives might be in this matter.  

Mr. Conoboy has asserted that REALTORS® advocate for elimination of owner occupancy for ADU residences.  False.  Indeed, the Association has advocate FOR retaining the owner occupancy requirement for both attached and detached ADUs.  Owner occupancy ensures that a responsible party is onsight to provide appropriate review of the party in the ADU.  We did ask the question about whether it could be appropriate to allow the owner to be absent for up to a year - to accomodate our government employees and other professionals who have opportunity to accept temporary work assignments in other locales - to help cover living expenses in both locations, something that can make acceptance of such opportunities difficult.

REALTORS® advocate for ADUs for short-term rentals.  False.  The discussion on short-term rentals is just beginning and many questions remain.  Rather than taking the path that some neighborhood advocates have taken in comparing vacation proprietors to pimps and prostitutes (See Planning Commission January  4, 2018), the Association would prefer to obtain the actual date on how ADUs are utilized in the short-term rental market.  Based on the discussion below, construction of an ADU for short-term vacation rentals, based on expenses and rental revenue, would be very difficult to justify.      

If passed, there will be an ADU in every backyard and and ruin the single family character of neighborhoods.  Doubtful.  My hometown of Missoula, Montana went through this exact process several years ago.  The opponents in that locale raised the exact same arguments raised by neighborhood activists in Bellingham these many years later.  Missoula proceeded with a city-wide allowance of ADUs and, several years later, is wondering why there have only been 17 - yes SEVENTEEN - applications for ADUs.  Similar results have been seen in other cities as well - Portland has a little over 1,000 applications despite over 100,000 lots available; Seattle has a very low percentage as well; Ferndale implemented it’s ADU ordinance a year ago and, last I heard, has yet to receive a single application.  

ADUs are expensive.  Construction of a detached ADU will trigger similar restrictions as constructing a new home.  There are pemit costs, constructions costs, and development regulations (setbacks) that will render construction difficult or impossible on many lots.  Factor those costs into rental and the capitalization on such projects is dubious at best.  Hardly the return on investment that most landlords will demand from their properties.  

ADU demand is specific.  Property owners construct ADUs for a wide variety of reasons - primarily to house family members who are unable or cannot afford to live on their own.  The recent project on Peabody street perfectly illustrates this concept as the purchasers were predominantly seeking an ADU to house millenial children or aging parents; those who sought additional income from the ADU were seeking to have the rental income offset the mortgage on the property but, again, that was possible because the ADU was already built.  

But rather than talking about specifics and having an honest debate on these issues, neighborhood advocates are content to hold out a private citizen and villify her because she dared to ask the tough questions, had the gall to buck the neighborhood leaders and ask if this was a tool that would help (not solve) the affordable housing issue.  I was very happy in the above picture because I was helping to honor a woman who dared to defy the Bellingham establishment and move this discussion forward.  Rather than trying to convince citizens that their Euclidian zoning is one the brink of collapse, Ms. Sherrer had the courage to look for a path forward.  Rather than engaging in divisive rhetoric and scare tactics, the REALTORS® want to celebrate honest debate on the issues and those who are serious about finding resolution.  

I invite anyone who wishes to know our views on this matter to contact me.  I’m always happy to discuss the Association’s views and you won’t have to rely on Mr. Conoboy’s speculation and conjecture about the Association’s views.  Give me a call or let me know when I or our leadership can address your organizations.  Working together, we find a solution to Bellingham’s housing crisis.  Let’s celebrate that!

  

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Larry Horowitz

Jan 23, 2018

Perry,

I am certain that Dick will respond on his own to your comments, but I thought it might be helpful for those who read them to know that Dick, Anne Mackie, and I met with Wendy Scherrer many months ago to learn about her ideas to legalize DADUs in Happy Valley’s single-family zoned areas.  We spent at least 2 hours together listening to Wendy’s plan and touring the neighborhood.  At the time, Wendy committed to us that her intention was to have a pilot project in the Happy Valley Neighborhood and not promote the legalization of DADUs in other neighborhoods’ single-family zones.

In November 2017,  Wendy’s op-ed was published in the Herald, and Wendy posted about her op-ed on Nextdoor.  It is then that we learned that Wendy chose to renege on her commitment and to endorse the planning commission’s recommendation to legalize DADUs in all single-family zoned areas citywide.  But Wendy didn’t stop there.  Her op-ed calls for all nine infill toolkit housing forms to be legalized in all single-family zoned areas in all neighborhoods citywide.

You wrote that Wendy’s “stated purpose was to elevate the level of discussion.”  But once Wendy chose to deny every neighborhood the opportunity Happy Valley had to impact their destiny, the level of discussion became anything but elevated.  Between Iris Maute-Gibson’s pronouncement that neighborhoods should have no say and Wendy’s op-ed, which echoed that sentiment, the neighborhood bear was poked.  Why are you so surprised that neighborhood advocates might get a little testy?   Of course, you don’t live in one of Bellingham’s single-family neighborhoods whose input has been eviscerated, so why would you care?

I don’t know Wendy well, but I have heard about the many wonderful and selfless achievements she has accomplished.  She is certainly an inspiration.  But can a person admire Wendy - and be inspired by her - and also disagree with this particular action?

Had Maute-Gibson simply allowed the Happy Valley pilot project to move forward, as the city planning staff recommended, then neighbor would not be pitted against neighbor, and this dialogue would not have devolved into the state that it has. 

Of course, there are still many single-family residents who are not happy with the process the Happy Valley Neighborhood Association followed to move the pilot project forward.  And there are others who are still not even aware of the project itself.   Because I am not a Happy Valley resident, I have no say; but I’ve heard HV residents who are concerned that the level of buy-in is not as has been represented by the board.

Regarding Bellingham’s housing crisis, I don’t believe realtors are entirely innocent.  Cities can grow organically or they can grow synthetically.  When realtors promote, market and advertise Bellingham to people who live elsewhere in order to sell more real estate, Bellingham’s growth is synthetically stimulated.  But what happens when this promotion, marketing and advertising creates a situation where supply can not keep up?  

And the city hasn’t helped matters.  The property taxes paid by Bellingham homeowners are used by the city to subsidize even more growth and development.  A substantial share of the costs of growth, which are not caused by existing residents, are foisted upon them.  

The first rule during a crisis is to stop doing anything that makes the crisis worse.  But have realtors stopped promoting, marketing and advertising Bellingham to outsiders?  No.  They continue to stimulate Bellingham’s synthetic growth during a housing affordability crisis.  How is that helping the situation?

Regarding the DADU debate, as I wrote in my comment letter on the ADU Ordinance update:

The decision whether to legalize DADUs in all single-family neighborhoods citywide is not a beauty contest, as many public comment letters seem to think. The benefits of DADUs must be weighed against the probable and significant adverse impacts these DADUs will impose. These benefits and adverse impacts will be different in each neighborhood, on each block, and in every backyard. They must be carefully evaluated contextually based on the location where they will be placed.

The Planning Commission, and many who have submitted comment letters, act as if DADUs are the same no matter where located. Clearly, this is not the case. That is why City Council wisely made the decision to allow DADUs – and all toolkit housing forms – to be added to single-family zoned areas on per neighborhood basis rather than citywide.

This issue at hand is not whether DADUs are good or bad. In some places, the benefits will outweigh the adverse impacts. In others, the adverse impacts will outweigh the benefits. Neither the Planning Commission nor City Council is in a position to consider where DADUs will be beneficial and where they will be detrimental. That detailed evaluation is best performed by the neighborhood residents and their associations. This is the promise the City made in 2009. And that is the state of affairs Mr. Sepler so eloquently depicts.

To uphold the City’s promise and commitment - and to comply with the constitutional principles of Fairness, Due Process, and Reasonable Certainty - the decision to allow Detached Accessory Dwelling Units (DADUs) in single-family zoned areas must be made on a per neighborhood basis, not citywide.

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Dick Conoboy

Jan 23, 2018

Perry,

Looks like Larry has pretty well covered the territory in his response but I do have a few additonal comments. 

I do object strongly to your characterization of my article as a vilification of Wendy Scherrer.  I have criticized her actions on this issue which is a long way from your implication of libel (a subset of the word you used “vilification”).  There is a difference.  Her excellent record as an environmental leader stands but now in contrast with this Happy Valley project. 

Additionally,  you have stated, “Mr. Conoboy has asserted that REALTORS® advocate for elimination of owner occupancy for ADU residences.”   If once reads my article carefully, I have stated no such thing.  I mentioned owner occupancy once and in connection with a discussion taking place at the January 18th Happy Valley meeting.

Nor did I characterize the realtors position on short term rentals because I do not know what that position is.   I did say that DADUs in general are about short term rentals.  Perhaps you are feeling guilt by association.  And I certainly do not contend that  short term rental owners are like “pimps and prostitutes”.  I do not control what commenters say before the planning commission.  However, I am flabberghasted by the number of people who do get up in front of the planning commission and planning staff and confess openly while being recorded to a misdemeanor, the running of a short term rental.  But staff sits there like deer in the headlights. They are against code. 

This ADU ordinance update is not taking place in a vacuum, as I have state elsewhere.  And by slicing up all the land/zoning legislation this year, the city is taking advantage of those who cannot look more than a year or so down the pike on any specific issue or pay attention only periodically.  ADU changes, combined with other land use decisions this year are cumulative in effect and, in some cases, may be working at odds with each other.  We are looking at

1.  DADUs

2.. Subdivision ordinannce

3.  Short term rentals

4.  Intill Tool Kit

5.  Illegal Boarding Houses.

Now there may be those who see no connection or prefer that no connection be made.   They look at Ballard and shrug their shoulders.  DADUs are expensive to build but in conjuntion with these other land use issues, we will see in SF neighborhoods exactly what has happened on Peabody St. (not the poster child for affordability at $425K) but worse.  Megaplex houses (already built in York) on lots where a SF home has been razed and a huge house is built with DADU (eventually) all to be rented out at some point, with or without owner occupancy and likely without enforcement as the term enforcement in Bellingham is a four letter word to be avoided in polite company.

Any connection between building ADUs and easing housing crisis is minimal at best and counterproductive at worst.   There is no overall plan with stated goals and measurable means to get there.  Throw the housing pasta on the wall and see what sticks.  We have enough land available within the city limits to meet our needs for the next two decades.  If an ADU is needed for granny or to supplement income, the attached ADU is already available city wide and at  half the price to build. 

 

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Michael Chiavario

Jan 23, 2018

Dick, you say in your article that DADU’s are all about short term rentals and absentee landlords getting a new way to make money off of our neighborhoods. The proposal discussed at the Planning Commission meeting last week specifically excluded DADU’s from being short term rentals and the majority of Council has already made it clear that it is for DADU’s being limited to owner occupied lots. Have I missed a new change somewhere?
I am with you, Dick, on the idea that residential real estate should not be in a speculative market. I have no problem, however, with contractors making a profit on their business. Are you opposed to one of the most vibrant, mostly small, business groups in our community - construction contractors?
Also Dick, I know that you are very capable of writing good well researched articles that are free of the hyperbole(“Scherrer and Maris have ramrodded…”;“most divisive”; “dragging…down a path”) and unanswered speculations(‘is it the brainchild of just two residents?”; “a local house designer”[implies personal profit motive]) about motives of the subjects of your piece. If this were a journalism class your piece would get an ‘F’ for journalistic ethics. You and I share similar perspectives about a just economy and environmental protection, but this hit piece does not help those causes.
I was pleased to learn a bit more from your piece about Mary Kay Robinson , Perry Eskridge and WCAR until I read Perry’s response to your piece and then I realized that perhaps what I had read was not necessarily correct.  It is my guess(and I am clear about it being a guess, because Wendy Scherrer cannot respond here) that Wendy was pretty surprised when she received an award from one of the half dozen organizations (Sustainable Connections and Habitat for Humanity among them) that worked on Happy Valley’s YIMBY conference. Your implication that Wendy somehow conspired with the  Realtors alone to ‘ramrod’ (your word, Dick) a plan to wreck the environment and enrich a few investors to the detriment of the neighborhood is factually wrong and despicable.
Your derision of Shannon Maris with the implication that she is a self serving profiteer is mean spirited and 180 degrees off the mark of the kind of person she is. Shannon gives many hours of her time to community non-profits and cares deeply about housing affordability and justice. Just because you differ with her on some particulars of how to achieve housing affordability and justice you have chosen to pillory her with false innuendo.

Articles like your piece are not honest debate in the spirit of comunity dialogue.  They are divisive and your piece undermines your credibility, Dick, with me and I suspect other community members who are working to build a stronger and healthier Bellingham. I hope that you will retract your article and apologize to both Shannon and Wendy.

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John Blethen

Jan 23, 2018

Great response, Michael.  Lets stick to the issues  and not  mud sling,.  Shannon and Wendy are two of the most valuable , community minded people in the City .  Lets work through the process on the ADU,  DADU issue and trust that we can have an open, honest public process.

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Larry Horowitz

Jan 23, 2018

Here is why we don’t believe that the process has been open and honest:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Z0MK01qiPSn0Z7aX1qLLFLjNxZ1eESLa/view

Regarding the mud-slinging, please note that things were peaceful until Iris Maute-Gibson blind-sided the neighborhoods and Wendy Scherrer reneged on her commitment.  Should these actions not be considered?  

 

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Dick Conoboy

Jan 23, 2018

 Michael,

Neither the ADU ordinance nor the short term rental (STR)  ordinance are finished so whether or not DADUs will be excluded from use as short term rentals is not yet known.  We have a history in this city also of non-enforcement of housing codes.  I need not say more.

We also have a city council with 4 members who voted to remove the owner-occupancy requirement on ADUs during the comp plan review.   They had to backpeddle rapidly.   Those four council members are still on the council and who knows what they might come up with on the ADU and STR ordinances once the PC has made its recommendations.

I am not opposed to construction contractors.  Not surprisingly one built my house.  I do know that construction companies cannot be expected to be into affordable housing.  they are there to make money which I fully understand.  But the city and those fighting for more housing do not get this and expect that prices will fall once enought housing is built.  That is not demonstrable in the long run.

I use vocabulary not only to get attention but to desribe what I am seeing.  The HV pilot project is looking more and more like the invention of a few and not a welling up from the grass roots.  It still is not evident that the HV residents got to vote on the project.  The HVNA website is bereft of information on anything whatsover.  Meeting minutes?  None posted since 2015. Where is the transparency?  Their Facebook site is moribund since 2011.  Just where does one go for information?

As far is WCAR is concerned, I think they are using Wendy and the HV neighborhood.  Even if Wendy was surprised at the award, she has not since distanced herself from it. 

When I see people pushing for laws from which they can profit, I get suspicious and I call them (in this case Maris) out.  You might notice that the BNC membership has no financial interest in any of this and the time the members  give to write to city hall and speak at meetings is their own.  So forgive me when I see realtors and those who make their living from home building  supporting a neighborhood project that has to do with real estate.

I stand by my article.

 

 

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Anne Mackie

Jan 23, 2018

I  wondered why the idea of Detached ADUs to become a citywide zoning change was never brought up in the ADU Task Force hosted by City Planning Director Rick Sepler. Happy Valley NA residents Scherrer and Maris also attended those meetings over a year ago, as did I, and it was never mentioned. WCRA employee Perry Eskridge also participated. No mention of the citywide DADU proposal.

Fast forward to Sept. 2017 when Maute-Gibson introduces the motion at Planning Commission, and voila! The HVNA jumps on board and begins supporting a rezone for all the rest of the city. What happened? If Dick Conoboy can help shed some light on this turn of events, his reporting should be welcome.

How many other members of the Mayor-appointed Planning Commission are part of the pro-development YIMBY movement? How did our planning process get hijacked by this top-down maneuvering, instead of neighborhood-based planning? 

I live in York neighborhood where real estate agents are the rental owners for much of our neighborhood, which was once majority family housing. Now, York is 55% rentals JUST IN THE SF ZONE.  These illegal rooming houses rent for $3,000 - $3,200 a month. Usually shared by 5 or 6 young adults paying $500 per room - I almost said “bedroom.” Dining rooms, living rooms, attics, and basements are also used as sleeping rooms. One real estate family owns over 40 single family houses in York—just in the SF zone; they own many more in the multi-family zone and throughout all of Bellingham. That’s just one realtor family.

I think the relationship between our “housing crisis” and the real estate industry is worth investigating.  Thank you, Dick, for doing just that. Now a real dialogue has begun. 

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Michael Chiavario

Jan 23, 2018

Anne there is a difference between ‘shedding light’ and slinging mud.

If one wants ones side of a community dialogue to maintain credibility, mudslinging is not the way to do it.

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Anne Mackie

Jan 23, 2018

Michael: Show me the “mud.” I think it’s called “reporting” the facts. 

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David Camp

Jan 23, 2018

Well I think limiting DADU’s so they can’t be used by owner-occupants for short-term rentals is plumb wrong - just strategery for political reasons.

Doesn’t it make sense to restrict short-term rentals to owner-occupied housing?  We don’t want absentee landlord party houses - we want people who live there to AirBnb to people they vet and supervise. 

The proposal to deny short-term rentals to owner-occupied DADU’s is exactly contrary to sensible policy.

And a word on the NIYBY’s - I honor and respect the work people have done (I should name Anne Mackey in particular for her long-term work in the York neighborhood) to preserve our single-family neighborhoods. But as Anne says, 52% of single family homes in York are owned by commercial landlords - hardly a ringing success, eh?

How can we increase the percentage of owner-occupied homes in York - make the affordable for young families? By permitting them to build DADU’s and rent them out - short and long-term. The NIYBY’s, though well-intentioned,  are dead wrong on this issue. And the ranting and raving and hyperbole evidenced by DIck’s article are not helping. 

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Dick Conoboy

Jan 26, 2018

In the event that there are still folks out there that do not understand my taking on the YIMBY crowd, there is this from California: Excerpt: “The Yimbys and other stalwarts of the California growth machine cast growth-resistant communities as a mighty political force. Yet AB 1515 and SB 167 made their way through the Legislature without grass-roots protest. That history suggests that the growth entrepreneurs’ portrait of a Nimby juggernaut is a caricature whose main purpose is to justify the machine’s ongoing assault on local authority over land use.”  Read the article here.

YIMBYs are being used by the development industry.  Lenin would smile at the tactic.  The co-opting of the diversity and equality concepts in this venue is classic neo-liberalism in which free marketeers move their agendas forward aided and abetted by those who buy into actions that actually produce less in the way of diversity and equality. When one calls out these people on the fraud, it is that person who is immediately the bad guy, the privileged one, the racist, the NIMBY, the (________) fill in the blank. The city has no plan other than to throw the pasta of zoning changes on the wall to see what sticks. The neighborhoods have been marginalized by the mayor and disparaged as not representing the residents although when it suits the city, as in the case of Happy Valley, suddenly the HV neighborhood board is the poster child of representative democracy in action.

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