West Seattle, Washington
Thought-provoking article just posted at The Stranger’s site.
I don’t really think it’s a dilemma. The crime and illegal property use must be cleaned up.
The only issue is whether to let a mentally-challenged man live where he wants (while understanding that he can’t live exactly HOW he wants, which is again non-negotiable) or place him where his nature is less destructive to himself and those around him.
While I understand neighbors not wanting to live near a pile of junk, this new law frightens me a little. It seems like the kind of vague wording that could come back to haunt us. While I believe that the city means well, I am not sure that at some point this law won’t be used to create housing association type rules.
I also find it annoying because we have tried for years to get the city to help clean out our alley which is overgrown and filled with garbage, car parts and cast off furnishings. However, the neighbor down the street who had all of the junk in the yard now has a clean yard, and the alley is a little more full.
Fortunately the North Delridge individual in question has neighbors, city staff, SPD and his guardian to assist him and keep he and his property safe from the undesirables who have preyed upon him. Sadly, others who might be in this predicament might not be so lucky and it is those situations that will require the Department of Planning and Development to walk a fine line with.
Even though he was encouraged to do so, the writer for The Stranger didn’t point out that the only reason why the North Delridge Neighborhood Council came to support the Clean-Up-Your-Act legislation is due to extremely irresponsible behavior on the part of several absentee and out of state speculative property owners who allowed their vacant buildings and property to languish in the kind of condition that is almost indescribable. Can you say buckets of human excrement and drug dealing? Doors, porches and windows torn off? Piles of garbage, construction debris and junk cars? One of the properties in question was directly across the street from a public school. Real nice. These are property owners who are by no means economically poor, nor mentally challenged, but they are certainly deficient in what constitutes basic citizenship. It is long past time that enforcement penalties of the existing Land Use code be upped via this new legislation so as to prevent any neighborhood from having to endure this kind of nonsense. – Mike Dady
This is interesting. I don’t agree with most homeowners associations and am normally against the city being able to dictate an individuals life, but this is a bit different. My concern would be that the individuals actions are impeding on the rest of his neighbors (enviornmental issues with TVs & monitors, devalued property value and allowing criminals to congregate). That is where I personally feel the dividing line should be drawn, especially with the environmental and criminal issues. If this individual has a state appointed guardian, in the eyes of the law I would imagine that the SAG would be the legal equivilant to a parent. Why isn’t that person liable for the yard?
There’s a house I walk by just about every day, near PCC. It’s run down, the yard has a few weeds, and the roof is in terrible shape. Yesterday I saw a couple of notices tacked to its front door: a red sheet of paper titled “Public Notice” and a xeroxed copy of the “Clean Up Or Else” newspaper article. I didn’t go up on the porch to read them, but I wonder….did the city do this, or was it some “concerned citizen”? I mean, the house is not that bad. Shabby, yes, but I’ve never seen it as a danger to anyone.
Luckie, the red “Public Notice” you saw attached to the front door was probably what is known in the construction trade as a “Stop Work Order”. If it is in fact a STW, it was placed there by the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development and was likely placed due to work occurring on the house or property without proper permits. I would imagine the newspaper article you refer to was placed by a neighbor and not by a DPD inspector. //// My Two Cents on Building Permits: There is plenty a property owner can do legally without a building permit, but there is a long list of building code required items that do require a permit from DPD. If in doubt, it is always best to call DPD to avoid being Red Tagged or other problems such as property disclosure laws. And any contractor or carpenter who is not interested in seeking proper permits is in most cases, but certainly not all, someone a home or property owner might want to by-pass.
House, the legal guardian is one of many people taking an active role in solving the problem. /// You are spot on when you write of the spillover affect of problem properties. The demise of public safety factor via the human element problem properties may attract is to put it plainly, something that I don’t think a lot of people in West Seattle and city wide understand unless they have experienced it first hand. It is not part of the typical day-to-day life in lets say, oh, Laurelhurst or Magnolia, but can be a very serious issue in other parts of the city that are,..ahem….more challenged. The fiasco these properties can create is something I do not wish upon anyone, anytime or anywhere.
That reminds me…I should mow my lawn.
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