Delridge District Council: Problem properties – finally some help?

That house is at the far north end of Delridge, across the busy, bridge-approaching street from Skylark Club and Cafe (WSB sponsor). When someone broke into Skylark last month, all eyes turned there. Technically, the house is vacant. In reality, it hasn’t been — it’s been used by squatters and partyers, and Skylark proprietor Jessie Summa-Kusiak says it’s been a sore spot for that area for quite some time. It’s part of a problem that North Delridge Neighborhood Council co-chair Mike Dady brought to last night’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting, out of abject frustration. After trying for a long time to get something done, he says, the city needs to take stronger action about properties like this one – and tonight, there may be some progress – read on:

Dady told the group that the house across from Skylark is one of at least 20 problem properties around Delridge. He says he’s called it to the city’s attention and provided information and nothing has happened. In many cases, he says, he’s been told an abandoned house can’t simply be torn down without a plan being in place for what will replace it.

The issue caught the ear of City Council candidate David Bloom, who was at last night’s meeting as he (like many other candidates) continues visiting neighborhood groups to seek support. This morning, we were cc’d on a note Bloom sent Councilmembers Sally Clark and Tim Burgess, which included this:

I attended the Delridge District Council meeting last night where I met Mike Dady and learned of the problem of dilapidated houses in the Delridge neighborhood. Mike said that he can identify at least 20 houses that are boarded up, deteriorating, subject to break-in, and prone to foster illegal activity. He also has forwarded an e-mail to me that he sent to you March 6 for which there has been no response to date. (E-mail is copied below)

It seems to me that either or both the building code or housing code should be used to force these owners to maintain their properties, occupy them, demolish them, or take some action to stop their deteriorating condition. Otherwise the City should consider serious punitive action involving heavy fines or even imposing eminent domain to seize the properties. I cannot believe the City is powerless to act in this situation on behalf of the Delridge neighborhood.

I would appreciate your response, including accepting Mr. Dady’s offer of a tour to see the problem firsthand.

E-mail exchanges ensued, including Diane Sugimura from the Department of Planning and Development, which is accountable for land use, including investigating reported violations.

Bottom line, it looks like city officials will come to Delridge for a tour of the problem areas – they say they had been aware of the situation with the house near Skylark, which had received some attention from SPD and DPD lately, working with the West Seattle man who owns the property, but promising to expand to look at the other properties about which Dady expressed concern. (DPD’s “vacant building inspector” looked at the house in late February, according to a letter posted to the NDNC mailing list, and reported finding “it secure with minor deterioration, no outdoor storage of junk & basically no violations of the vacant building code,” after the owner did a walkthrough with police, kicked squatters out, and signed a “trespass agreement” that enables police to go in and clear the premises at any time.)

More followups to come. We’ll watch to see if city officials make good on their promise to come out and find out what’s going on and what can be done about it.

5 Replies to "Delridge District Council: Problem properties - finally some help?"

  • Lisa K. March 19, 2009 (10:21 pm)

    Hopefully someone with some say so is getting moving on this. I saw an official city vehicle stop at our block’s “problem property” just this afternoon, and wondered if it had to do with Mike’s truly incredible advocacy on behalf of our community. The guy is a treasure. The house in our neighborhood has been unoccupied for over a year, and seems to have been abandoned by the buyer, who never followed through with the planned remodel/resale, and for whom we can no longer find any contact info. It has attracted drunken and drugged up squatters, thieves, trash, and is a general eyesore. There are some laws on the books to help us (buildings must be secured, certain amounts of trash aren’t acceptable), but we could use stricter codes. Trash strewn lawns and decaying homes are not just cosmetic blights, they are risks to the greater community in terms of health and safety, not to mention the property value impact. My sympathy for an owner who is probably “upside down” on an investment evaporates when he is unwilling to take basic responsibility for keeping the place from becoming a wreck. Thank you, Mike, for all your help; you are appreciated.

  • Daniel March 27, 2009 (12:44 pm)

    I’ve actually been trying to find out who owns that property. I wanted to buy it and build a new home there, but never had any luck.

  • WSB March 27, 2009 (12:50 pm)

    You can find out who owns ANY property by using the King County Parcel Viewer:
    Click “get property report” and you will see the owner’s name, mailing address, and some history on any site – TR

  • Daniel March 30, 2009 (11:44 am)

    well if i’m reading the parcel map right… it isn’t on the parcel map

  • Daniel March 30, 2009 (11:47 am)

    oh wait, no i’m mistaken

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