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Duplex Moratoriums

City Council considers a moratorium on the thecheater duplexes

Posted - November 24, 1997

Some comments and notes from the Public Hearing before theBellingham City Council this Monday evening.

- Enforce the law or change the law and enforce it. The cityplanning is in bed with the developer.

- Ads in the Herald classified show that right now there are 61rentals available for right now. There is no urgent need for morestudent housing.

- These duplexes cheat the law and unfairly compete against legalrentals to have a problem renting out.

- Density created by duplexes in neighborhoods is more than zoningplanned for. It upsets the purpose of the zoning.

- Defination of duplex is in question here. City did not imaginethat a duplex could become like an apartment by having 4 or even morebedrooms.

- Sehome nieghborhood is now seeing these duplexes. People aretrying to preserve the integrity of their neighborhoods. Needmoratorium in order to study the law.

- Student said she resides in Adrick Place and doesn't know whyall the fuss.

- A parent of college students spoke. Students need to learn howto live in the community. Selective enforcement of the law engendersdisrespect for the law.

- This is a zoning issue, not a building issue. GMA has mandateddensity infill in Bellingham. Unfortunately, the process has ignoredthe demand for student housing. Council needs to take a look at longterm considerations for student housing.

- Not against people not related living together. Density is theproblem.

- Existing laws should be enforced so as to not causeproblems.

- Putting these 4 bedroom units on minimal lots and putting themall together is what causes the problem.

- Jim Spaich thanked all for showing up tonight. This is a bigissue. City code 20.32.20 shows it is intended that duplexes areintended to support slightly higher density in a neighborhood.Developers need to know what they can do.

- In the Sehome neighborhood, most are in favor of the moratorium.It is a fragile neighborhood. GMA infill mandate is not to fill at ahigher density but not at a higher density.

- Why not 5 and 6 bedroom duplexes? They would not be illegal. Butthey would violate the spirit of the duplex zoning. We have to lookat what a duplex is.

- What are you going to do with 15,000 college students. We can'tignore them. He stressed how much money these kids spend. $90,000 amonth. Figure out where you are going to put affordable housing forstudents. Council has not decided this yet. Living off campus ischeaper than living on campus. The present developer has obeyed allthe rules. Don't penalize him.

- York neihborhood has no room for more infilling. 13 hundredblock of Grant Street is has student problems. Landlords - and 2spoke tonight - are gouging the students for high rents. Why don'tthey take care of their properties. I'm tired of the landlords beingout of control.

- In selling a house in other cities, you have to have inspectionsas to how many square feet per person.

- We have provisions for boarding houses. Now is a good time tolook at why real estate developers are not using this.

- Chris Spens. Project that has stimulated this problem is out ofthe ordinary, it is legal. Lot of good meetings with the neighbors.Remedies are not available for this neighborhood. He doesn't want togo knocking on doors to see how many live there. He hopes we proceedwith propportions so an owner can go about with development plans. Heis concerned with how developers can proceed. Much of the city iszoned for multi residential housing. Chris whined that planners gethurt by all sides and suffer a lot. He objects to statement thatheisthreatening neighborhoods.

- Dawn Sturgold, city attorney, that all current valid permitapplications are not affected by this moratorium.

- The mayor spoke. Some of our zoning has been around a long time.As citygrowth rate has accelerated, then planning can only do so muchwith the present laws. that is why we need the ordinance.

- Council persons spoke in favor of ordinance. This is not astudent issue. It is a zoning issue. What is intent behind the law.The 4 bedroom duplexes are not what was intended. These are boardinghouses - not duplexes. This moratorium is a timeout. It does notchange the zoning. It allows us to review this problem. This is notanti-student.

- The developer was allowed to speak after the public hearing.Derek said he will suffer financial problems. If he had known allthat was going occur, he would have not bought the property. Hethought all was going along pretty well. He feels like he hascomplied with all that is in the code book.

- Council then passed the ordinance for a moratorium. Mr. Hallabstained. The rest of the council voted for it.

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