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Mountlake Terrace: Low End Trailer Park?

There is a Tumblr site out there called "Judgmental Maps" where they post maps of various cities and regions overlaid with extremely judgmental (and often very offensive) names or statements about different neighborhoods. The Seattle area has just received the "Judgemental Maps" treatment and, as expected, it's very judgemental. Generalizations are made about neighborhoods that borderline on racism and sexism (and most other isms you can think of) but the map does offer a glimpse into how some people may view certain Seattle neighborhoods and surrounding cities.

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You'll notice that overlaid on top of Mountlake Terrace are the words "Low End Trailer Park."

As someone who grew up in a neighboring city I can attest to the fact that terms like "white trash" or "trashy Terrace" were often used when referring to MLT. I am certainly not condoning the use of those terms or "Low End Trailer Park" as they can be offensive to people (those who live in mobile home/trailer parks and those who don't) because of how the user is trying to portray them.

My perception is that Mountlake Terrace has garnered this reputation due to the fact that some of the owners or renters of the houses (especially the concrete block houses in Town Center/Gateway) appear to neglect general maintenance and upkeep of their homes and their front yards in particular. Fortunately, I think this reputation is changing but I'm guessing it still has some negative side effects like lower property values and possible reluctance of retail business to locate here.

Some people may not know this but the City has actually done a lot to encourage residents to clean up the outside of their homes and yards. There's a fine line between using codes and regulations to encourage residents to maintain their properties and a more heavy-handed approach but I think the City has navigated that line well. They have done this by giving offenders plenty of time to voluntarily correct any violations before  resorting to fines or other penalties.

Here's a few of the steps the City has taken:

  • In 2001 the City added a chapter to the City Code about "Nuisances". Among many things, it added regulations concerning junk vehicles, construction debris, and other safety hazards.
  • Also in 2001 the City began a program with Waste Management where on one day each May residents could set out extra items on the curb to be picked up for free. The intent of this program was to help residents clean up their homes and yards. Ultimately the program got too expensive for the city and led to a lot of illegal dumping. In 2010 the City switched to providing residents with several "tags" so that they could place extra items by the curb throughout the year.
  • In 2009 the City started the Evergreen Awards, which recognizes property owners and renters who take pride in their community by beautifying, renovating, and improving their homes, condominiums and businesses and adding features that promote sustainability.
  • While residents have always been able to report code violations, in 2009 the City launched MLT Anytime which is an online tool for residents to easily enter a request, suggestion or comment 24 hours a day. While it enhances communications for residents, it also provides a system for the city to collect, track and archive requests.
  • In 2011 the City started using the GoRequest smartphone app which allows residents to easily report items such as a pothole that needs filling, graffiti that needs to be removed, or code violations via their mobile phones. Requests are geocoded and residents can easily attach photos. There is a GoRequest app for both iOS and Android. the GoRequest app ties in with the MLT Anytime system. I personally use this app all the time.

For examples of Code Enforcement cases, see the City Manager's Weekly Report. Each week there are generally updates about specific cases and what that the City is doing to encourage residents to maintain their properties.

Is the "Low End Trailer Park" reputation still warranted?

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