The city spent $186,710 to raze and clean up two Lynn Street houses that were a magnet for neighborhood complaints for more than a decade.
The total was more than the original estimate of up to $150,000.
Workers from Wrecking Ball Demolition tore down the houses at 2512 and 2315 Lynn St., starting in late October.
For some 14 years, neighbors complained about the ramshackle houses, unused cars and garbage piled high at those addresses in the Columbia neighborhood.
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Neighbors complained of an “overwhelming” smell of mold at both addresses; rats going in and out of the houses, as well as other rodents, and spreading into neighboring homes; and of danger posed by possible fire or collapse of the dilapidated structures.
The City of Bellingham sued Steven K. Baker, the owner of the properties, over the conditions. It also spent $38,863 to clean up the yards in February 2015.
Officials sent Baker notices and citations over the years – requiring him to clean up the mess and make the houses, which were condemned, safe for habitation or tear them down.
Baker did neither, officials said.
So the city had them torn down, saying the properties posed a public health threat and were a public nuisance.
Baker retained ownership of the properties after the tear-down.
The city will ask a judge to place a lien on the properties so costs can be recouped when the properties are sold, according to the City Attorney’s Office.
Officials described the situation with the Lynn Street houses as an outlier, one in which the city eventually ran out of options.
“This is such an unusual case. The city really tries to do everything it can to gain compliance. This was a last resort,” said Vanessa Blackburn, the communications director for the City of Bellingham.
The 2512 Lynn St. property has an appraised value of $184,207 while the other property has one of $251,091, according to the Whatcom County Assessor and Treasurer website.