Delridge dilapidation tour, report #1: “Unintended consequence”

That’s a view through the open front door of the last stop on today’s tour of Delridge-area problem properties, organized by North Delridge Neighborhood Council co-chair Mike Dady. Though he’s been fighting to get something done about vacant/trashed buildings in the area for three years, this one just turned up on his radar the other day – and in fact, when the tour group arrived, it turned out a city notice was posted:

Because of “high hazard” of imminent danger, the notice warned, the premises needed to be vacated by next Thursday. Those notices come from the Department of Planning and Development, whose top brass was on the tour, including director Diane Sugimura. City Councilmembers Sally Clark, who chairs the Planning, Land Use, and Neighborhoods Committee, and Tim Burgess, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, were there too — he’s in this photo with Dady, looking at the first stop on the tour:

So was City Council candidate David Bloom, who got involved after hearing about the problem during a West Seattle visit, plus Department of Neighborhoods director Stella Chao, Mayor Nickels’ public-safety liaison Julien Loh, and concerned neighbors — more than 20 people. The city leaders acknowledged that some of these problem properties are an “unintended consequence” of a city law meant to “preserve housing” — which instead has resulted in vacant, crumbling buildings left standing.

At the very end of the tour, when everyone else had left, Dady expressed cautious optimism that change might be coming; Burgess said he’s introducing a proposal to crack down on property owners who allow illegal activity on their land, and Sugimura expressed support for changing the code that prevents those owners from tearing down even their own buildings without a plan for replacement. More specifics, and photos, coming up later.

3 Replies to "Delridge dilapidation tour, report #1: "Unintended consequence""

  • MargL April 3, 2009 (5:18 pm)

    Is all that stuff left from squatters or from the previous/current tenants? There are many people who are elderly or mentally ill that live on their own in conditions like that because they just can’t help themselves. If that’s the case with this house where are the tenants going to go next? Camp Long? Is this issue being addressed as part of the proposed changes?

  • WSB April 3, 2009 (5:25 pm)

    I will be able to tell more of the story in the longer version, for each of these properties. In this case, we learned from neighbors, a gentleman lived here, was reported missing a few months ago, apparently turned up at a veterans’ hospital, where he is now, but it’s suspected the house has since been ransacked (the door was open before the tour arrived and looked like it had been stuck open with junk). He may not be the property owner; the door posting listed a man with a Kirkland address – TR

  • Mike D. April 5, 2009 (6:19 am)

    MargL-

    ___I share your concerns regarding the elderly or mentally ill folks. People with those conditions, living in their own homes, have been especially vulnerable and taken advantage of by the people who make it a habit of trespassing and living within the vacant houses. I was on the phone with one of the mentally troubled folks last night for a couple hours…..
    ___A few suggestions that were put forth by neighbors on the Vacant House Tour was having the city negotiate the sale of the properties/houses to an organization such as Habitat for Humanity, the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association, the Homestead Community Land Trust or another Non-Profit housing developer/provider so as to allow redevelopment of these types of properties. It is important to note that these types of houses have long surpassed their lifespans and by spurring on redevelopment we would see an increase in the supply of affordable, safe and decent housing. Other options could be using the sites for P-Patches, pocket-parks, or allowing abutting property owners to purchase and then annex/lot-line adjust the properties onto their existing lots with a non-development clause. Anything is better than what is currently occurring.

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