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Bellingham officials claim homeless encampment a nuisance

City asks judge for order allowing removal of 'trespassers' at site of overdose death

A Bellingham Police Department photo taken on Oct. 25 shows a homeless encampment at 4049 Deemer Road. The piles of garbage have grown larger and more widespread since the photo was taken
A Bellingham Police Department photo taken on Oct. 25 shows a homeless encampment at 4049 Deemer Road. The piles of garbage have grown larger and more widespread since the photo was taken (Photo courtesy of Bellingham Police Department)
By Ralph Schwartz Local Government Reporter

Bellingham officials are seeking a court order to remove a homeless encampment at 4049 Deemer Road.

City attorney Michael Good filed a complaint Nov. 22 in Whatcom County Superior Court seeking a warrant to clean up the 4 acres of mostly undeveloped land next to Winco Foods and The Home Depot, between East Bellis Fair Parkway and Telegraph Road.

In addition to the nuisances created by garbage, rodents and human waste at the property, the city alleges that individuals there are running a “criminal enterprise” by trading drugs for items stolen from stores in the immediate area.

“Theft and other property crimes at nearby businesses have spiked because of the trespassers illegally camping on the property,” the complaint states. 

Police found 1,900 fentanyl pills, a gun and $16,900 in cash in a vehicle associated with the property, according to the city’s complaint. Someone died of a drug overdose on the property in October.

About 40 to 60 unhoused individuals live on the property, the complaint said.

Trash including syringes and other drug paraphernalia are spilling onto neighboring properties, according to the city, and human feces is contaminating Baker Creek, which runs through the property.

The Bellingham mayor’s office declined to comment further on the city’s action against Erwin Rommel, the property’s owner. Rommel could not be reached for comment.

The city is asking Judge Lee Grochmal for a warrant to enter the Deemer Road property, “by force if necessary,” to remove the individuals who live there, along with garbage and any soil contamination, at the owner’s expense.


This story was updated at 10:56 a.m. on Jan. 2 with a new photo from the Bellingham Police Department, showing the homeless encampment at 4049 Deemer Road.

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