I applaud Mayor Linville's leadership on oil rail transportation safety as stated in The Herald July 14: "Public safety is the No.1 priority for me and for our city government."
A less dramatic, but no less important, safety issue exists in our city: rental housing safety. The silent deterioration of older housing is a safety concern that needs action. Bellingham has had six house fires in recent years.
Half of our city's housing is rentals. I believe we need inspections to bring rental conditions up to basic health and safety standards. To continue to ignore deteriorating conditions puts our neighbors at risk, our homes at risk, and causes block-busting where housing becomes rundown and prime for tear-downs.
To expect tenants to fight one-on-one against irresponsible landlords is wrong. A complaint-based system continues to put the onus on the tenant who is powerless to fight against retaliations of higher rents, evictions and potential homelessness. An inspection program will level the playing field for tenants, good property owners and irresponsible landlords.
Responsibility for the community's safe housing is all of ours to share. Many rentals have outdated, unsafe wiring and faulty plumbing. They are invitations to vermin and black mold that contribute to or cause allergies and asthma. Children need quality housing to thrive. Neighborhoods need quality housing to thrive.
Anne F. Mackie