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Neighbors on SW 325th Street bond over code compliance

Neighbors Peggy Gosselin, Pat and Bob Darnbrough and Julie and Dan Wilson, from left, along with David Knechtel, Duane Parker and Len Smith painted their neighbor’s house free. The home was the source of several complaints last year before the city changed its code compliance laws and helped the owners clean their property. - Jacinda Howard/The Mirror
Neighbors Peggy Gosselin, Pat and Bob Darnbrough and Julie and Dan Wilson, from left, along with David Knechtel, Duane Parker and Len Smith painted their neighbor’s house free. The home was the source of several complaints last year before the city changed its code compliance laws and helped the owners clean their property.
— image credit: Jacinda Howard/The Mirror

Last year, Dan Hoban’s neighbors complained to the city about his ailing home. This year, they painted his house for free.

Hoban has lived at his residence on Southwest 325th Street since the 1970s. But about 15 years ago, his home and property began to show signs of heavy wear and tear. Trash piled up outside the home and vehicles sat in the driveway unused.

In 2007, several neighbors came before the Federal Way City Council and voiced concerns about the unsightly property and rodents that frequented it. To address the issue, and others like it, the city began to change its code compliance laws and thus hold residents more accountable for failing to meet codes.

The city spent $12,401 to clean up the Hoban property in the meantime. He was billed for the work. The city’s contractors cleaned Hoban’s yard and hauled away trash, but the home he now shares with wife, Diana Hoban, was still in need of some loving care. Dan, who is terminally ill with cancer, and Diana, who is disabled, were unable to paint their home.

Knowing this, neighbors Peggy Gosselin, Pat and Bob Darnbrough, Julie and Dan Wilson, Duane Parker, Len Smith and David Knechtel began a summer project at the Hoban residence. The group painted the two-story structure for free. What started as an off-hand remark turned into hundreds of hours of dedication.

“First thing you know, we’re painting a house,” Bob Darnbrough said.

The Hobans gave the go-ahead for the painting and picked the colors — tan with white trim.

“He was adamant about the white trim,” Bob Darnbrough said of Dan Hoban.

They also paid for materials. By the start of September, the group had fixed the Hoban’s garage door, installed a gutter on the front of their home, primed and painted the house and mowed the lawn a few times.

As neighbors saw each other working, more joined in the activities. There were not many days when fewer than four hours were spent working at the residence, Gosselin said. Diana Hoban and adult daughter Alex Peacock helped when they could.

“What kept us going was the vision we had for the outcome and the support of each other, along with the ongoing expressed appreciation of neighbors and passers-by,” Gosselin said.

She estimates a few hundred dollars were spent on the paint for the project.

“It was well worth it when you think of how the poor old thing did look,” Pat Darnbrough said.

The project improved the relationship between the neighbors, who said they never harbored bad feelings toward the Hobans, but had wished frequently in the past that their home was better kept.

Diana Hoban is grateful for the work of her neighbors. She is not angry at them or the city for stepping in and demanding her home be cleaned up, she said.

“That is the best neighborhood in the world,” Hoban said. “They are angels in my neighborhood.”

The newfound friends and acquaintances said they are happy they embarked on the project and are willing to help again in the future. The work improved the quality of life for Dan and Diana Hoban — and kept the neighbors’ homes from depreciating in value.

“In the end, we save taxpayer dollars, everyone’s property values were not depreciated,” Gosselin said. “Even more than that, we got to know each other better as neighbors.”

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

Check it out:

The Hobans are in need of volunteers to assist their neighbors in mowing their lawn and keeping up their yard. To learn more, call reporter Jacinda Howard at The Mirror: (253) 925-5565.

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