Samish Neighborhood Association

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SNA Minutes 2014-06

Samish Neighborhood Association Meeting
June 12, 2014, Community Baptist Church

Meeting called to order at 7:00 PM.

Board members present: Joe Carpenter, Steve Abell, Garey Vodopich, Dick Conoboy, Don Hale, Brian Benjamin, Junga Subedar, Nikki Long, Suneeta Eisenberg, Kevin Probasco

Board members absent: Tom Roehl

Guests: Jeremy Harper (Bellingham Police Dept), George Sanders, Ron Judd, Ryan Husser

Public Comments: Officer Jeremy Harper, one of the BPD patrol officers in our area, discussed recent activities of the BPD Anti-crime Team. BPD will have 2 officers assigned full-time to handling anti-crime issues starting in January 2015. and this new Anti-crime Team will be combined with Community Services.

He also discussed National Night Out (NNO) coming up on Tuesday, August 5. The BPD is encouraging any interested neighborhood groups to organize an event. The board discussed whether to mount an effort to organize a neighborhood-wide event, but decided not to do this in light of upcoming September picnic planning activities. Instead, sub-groups in the neighborhood can organize events on a smaller scale and register them if they wish. Registration is not required, but is needed if a group wants a representative of the Police Department to attend. This rep can address neighborhood issues, answer questions, and talk about his/her particular area of expertise. On Friday, August 1, from noon until 6:00 PM, the BPD will host a kick-off event in the parking lot of the department located at 505 Grand Avenue. Anyone can drop by to learn and munch a free hot dog.

To register a NNO event contact Crime Prevention Officer John Courtney at (360) 778-8657 and give him the name/phone/email of a contact person in your group, the address and time for the event, and indicate if you want a speaker from the BPD.

Several other issues surfaced while Officer Harper was with us. George Sanders talked about illegal parking in Samish, and urged everyone to immediately report this if they see it so the instance gets on the record. There was also a question about homeless people camping in vacant areas around our neighborhood. Officer Harper explained that it is against the law to camp on city property. The BPD will respond to a complaint from a homeowner if the homeowner reports this type of activity occurring on private property. The camper will receive a trespass warning and told that should they not heed the warning they will be subject to arrest.

President’s Announcements: None.

Old business:

Meeting minutes from April and May were approved.

Treasurer’s report: The Treasurer’s report was approved. The current balance in our checking account is $1799.93 after paying Tiger Technologies the $83 annual website hosting fee and $10 rent to the church for our meeting room. We have yet to receive the $500 neighborhood grant from the city. Steve will continue to contact Vanessa Blackstone in the Mayor’s office to try to get a check cut. Ms. Blackstone said she has all the necessary paperwork to issue the grant money.

We discussed the Ashley and Samish rezone applications currently on file with the city. The current issue is docketing of the applications, which will be decided by the city’s Planning Commission subject to Council approval. Details of both rezones and public comments are available on the city website. See June 19 at http://www.cob.org/government/public/boards-commissions/planning-materials.aspx

Dick shared with the board his intent to write and speak as a private citizen in opposition to docketing of the Ashley rezone and encouraged neighbors to do likewise. However, since this first step involves only docketing it may be difficult to stop. Docketing only brings the proposal up for discussion by the Planning Commission. It does not involve approval of the project. He also pointed out that there are three odd circumstances surrounding the Ashley rezone request. First, the rezone request is coming from the potential purchaser of the property and not from the current owner. Dick thinks this may not be legal, since a purchaser may not have standing to do this. Normally a request for a rezone would come from the owner, and city code seems to reflect this. Second, it is not clear what the potential developer has specifically in mind for the property. If the rezone to “commercial-planned” goes through, it would allow types of construction that might be troublesome to the neighborhood. Mr. Sanders cautioned “rezones are forever”. Despite good intentions, granting a rezone can have unpredictable future consequences. While the developer may have a good reputation in the city, there is still uncertainty about what he really wants to do. Even if the docketing request is granted, there will be another opportunity to oppose or support the rezone when it comes before the Planning Commission and city council. Thirdly, the city granted a waiver for missing the docketing application deadline that would seem to fly in the face of clearly stated requirements in city code.

The Samish rezone request involves property in between the Community Baptist Church and the Elks Club in a change to remove the current requirement restricting development to non-retail use. Again, it is too early to tell what the specific plan might be.

The board has been considering for some time sending a letter to the city encouraging it to adopt a requirement for registration of rental units. Dick drafted a letter and we reviewed it thoroughly. The board is divided on whether the letter should be submitted to the city as our official statement of support. After much discussion, a motion to send the letter signed by President Hale was made and seconded. The motion passed by a vote of 6-to-4. A copy of the letter is included in these minutes.

New business:

We discussed whether to hold board meetings every other month during the year. Our by-laws require a minimum of 6 meetings per year. One is the annual March business meeting, another the picnic, so we would need at least 4 more. However, after discussion it was decided to simply continue current practice of cancelling one or two meetings per year, normally one in the summer vacation season and the other in December, unless we need to meet for time-critical business. The by-laws also include a procedure for calling an emergency meeting any time it might be needed. Consistent with maintaining current practice, a motion to cancel the July meeting was made, seconded, and passed unanimously.

For the upcoming neighborhood picnic on September 14, we will need a new barbeque cook. Joe will consider taking on this important responsibility.

Meeting adjourned.

Steve Abell
Secretary

Our letter to the City Council supporting proposals to reform the regulation of rental units in the city:

Samish Neighborhood Association
P.O. Box 1551
Bellingham, WA 98227

 RE: Rental Housing Regulation

 June 16, 2014

To Bellingham City Council Members,

 The Samish Neighborhood Association Board would like to express its support of the City of Bellingham for considering proposals to reform the regulation of rental units to ensure the health and safety of renters. 

First is the need for regulating rental housing, which should be classified as a business, through licensing or registration with concomitant inspection of units.  Rental businesses should be controlled in a way that protects the tenants while maintaining the character and integrity of all neighborhoods.      Licensing or registering these businesses would ensure that the city has an effective enforcement tool and that minimum standards for safety and health are met.

Second, we strongly recommend changing BMC Title 20 to alter code violations to make them civil infractions instead of criminal misdemeanors.  Many nuisance issues are not criminal problems.  We believe the city will save significant time and resources addressing them at the civil level allowing for more rigorous and uniform enforcement. 

As the Board of the Samish Neighborhood Association, we encourage you to move quickly on these important issues addressing residential rentals to promote the welfare of tenants in all neighborhoods throughout the city.  

Sincerely,

Don Hale
President

 

Posted 3 years, 1 month ago at 8:22 PM.

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