INTENT: To show that the City is allowing the neighborhoods to decline while they are pursuing another annexation.
There wasn't an Activism for Dummies book on how to do this when I started. After speaking, I was struck by how straight forward my lessons learned were. I have chosen to share my experiences so that you can make a difference in your city too.
In April of 2010, Burien annexed my neighborhood. Then, within a month, Chase Bank stopped maintaining one of their REO properties in my neighborhood. Within days, garbage started accumulating. The quiet quality of life I had enjoyed for decades took an ugly turn for the worse.
I was alarmed and contacted my City. Nothing happened, and they ignored me and my neighborhood. City Hall was now preoccupied by something they believed was far more important: another annexation. The City lost its focus on the neighborhoods. The Council and the City Manager were spending thousands of hours on annexation strategies.
Then, three more houses were abandoned in my neighborhood, as the City continued to be preoccupied. These became overgrown with brush, while the Chase house accumulated 40 + yards of garbage. I went from fear to seething anger. My ire was visceral. Rather than sit on it, I chose to take action.
I provided the tip for the news story about the abandoned bank repos in The Highline Times. The news story quoted the City:
- A half dozen letters were sent to Chase demanding cleanup.
- No response from Chase Bank.
- City used taxpayers money to clean it up.
- City was unable to recover money because the owner was in bankruptcy.
- City acknowledged the existence of the three other bank houses in my neighborhood.
The City continued to do nothing with any of these other houses after The Highline Times story. I now was confronted with a choice: be silent and sullen, or speak to the Council directly about this matter.
I hired an attorney to research the particulars of the Chase house. I then began to speak.