It is human nature to ponder, to procrastinate and pontificate, to build sandcastles in the air.
Speaking of which, July 23 is the sandcastle contest in Long Beach, WA, “the 32nd annual Long Beach Sand-Sculpting Competition Extravaganza: ‘SandSations’.”
The architects – sandcastle artists if you will – of Lakewood’s proposed Rental Inspection Program (RIP) have long pondered “the good, the bad and the ugly” – as they are wont to judge rental housing conditions in the city – and what to do particularly about “the bad and the ugly.”
The city’s website, dedicated to this issue, indicates the Council began deliberations on the RIP at its Council Retreat February 21, 2015. Since then, much sand has been kicked around, thrown in the air, and various attempts made to construct something of lasting value to make the castles people call home habitable before the (RIP)tide of public opinion washes the whole effort out to sea.
Designs – and lines in the sand – continue to be drawn.
In the City Council’s agenda packet for July 18, there is a summary of who-said-what at the July 5 Public Hearing on the RIP (pp.005-007). On page 12, councilmembers weighed in wondering whether Lakewood’s RIP was “creating another bureaucracy or doubling efforts; is the City imposing too much on the good landlords for them to pay”; and suggesting more information be obtained from the six Washington cities that have RIPs, specifically inquiring as to their program costs, fees, successfulness of their efforts, and even having representatives come and speak to Lakewood’s Council.
For now, it is the consensus of the Council to schedule further discussion to July 25 and consider taking action August 1.
Meanwhile, down the beach a-ways another team – the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) – is competing for most the intricate, creative and time-consuming solution for yet another sand-in-your-face problem the City says is eligible for consideration: abandoned shopping carts.
Though PSAC wins the ‘how-long-did-it-take’ award, they at least have a solution.
In April, 2014, PSAC “took on the growing issue of shopping carts being abandoned on city streets throughout Lakewood,” Lakewood’s Police Chief Mike Zaro wrote in his update to Council on December 14, 2015.
Like Lakewood’s RIP designers who patterned Lakewood’s entry based on what others were shoveling together on their respective plots of real estate, PSAC spent an entire year “to research the municipal codes of neighboring cities such as Auburn and Bellevue, to determine what, if any, action could legally be taken in this matter (of abandoned shopping carts).”
In March of 2015 PSAC finally reached agreement on what materials they would use, in addition to sand of course which was a given: a letter.
Imagine. Solving the abandoned shopping cart issue, not via ordinance; not with elaborate, multi-tiered, extravagant and outlandish legalisms complete with turrets for firing down upon offenders, closing all loopholes and pulling up the drawbridge over the moat – to continue the sandcastle analogy – but a letter.
That letter, the letter that took 18 months to write, was mailed on Chief Zaro’s stationery the first week of November, 2015 “to the top ten (10) stores in Lakewood requesting their assistance with the collection of shopping carts.”
How simple a solution and how profound a resolution to “increase cooperation” from those most responsible for the problem – the 10 offending stores themselves.
Letters in the sand.
To think the RIP could be resolved so simply.