The Myth of Waterfront Public ProcessPermalink +
Thu, May 16, 2013, 11:55 am // Wendy Harris
I am reposting my article in this month's Whatcom Watch regarding my concerns with waterfront planning and the public process. http://www.whatcomwatch.org/php/WW_open.php?id=1560
The waterfront redevelopment plans were revised by the city administration and the port over the last two years, with little public involvement. The final plans were released in December, and were set for two public hearings in March before the Bellingham Planning Commission. No public information session was offered to the public before the hearings although the waterfront documents are very complex and technical in nature. Planning Commission work sessions, where the issues are discussed in greater depth, were scheduled after the public hearings.
As a result, the public is largely uniformed on a number of important facts:
- The Port revised the waterfront EIS in December without public notice or public input. It exceeded the appropriate scope of the addendum process that it used.
- The revised plans include a Planned Action Ordinance, which provides vested rights to developers to use mitigation standards based on the 2008-2010 EIS, without any requirement to review or update the EIS over time. Other waterfront agreements, such as the city and port interlocal, expire in 25 years. This prevents the public from updating and revising environmental standards as appropriate. It benefits only the developers. We are told that developers need certaintly, but we are also told that the port and the city want flexibility in the planning process. Why are there two different standards for public development and private development?
- The Planned Action Ordinance removes the normal public right to comment before a SEPA determination is issued. Instead, the Planning Department has the sole discretion to determine what, if any, mitigation is required under SEPA. Sure, you can appeal this to the City Hearings Examiner... if you have about $1200 to spare.
- The adminstrative staff is obtaining funding and, with city council approval, amending city comprehensive plans, such as the annual budget, the capital facilities plan or the transporation improvement plan, for waterfront projects before waterfront plans have been approved. The port is solicting proposals from developers before the waterfront plans have been through the public process. Does this sound like there is meaningful public process?
- The revised waterfront plans include provisions for "beneficial reuse." This will result in more dredging and dumping of toxic waste at waterfront sites before the sites are cleaned up. Just like the dioxin mountains at Cornwall Avenue Landfill.
- The revised plans allow 10 and 20 story buildings at an urban density that rivals large city urban cores. This is not what the public asked for, nor expected.
- Waterfront land is being privatized and sold to large developers. This contrary to the desire for public ownership and local development reflected in the policies and guidelines adopted from the Waterfront Futures Group.
- The public comment tracker is being used as a tool to undermine and de-emphasize the significant concerns being raised through public comment.
- At the last City Council meeting, the Mayor incorrectly informed the City Council that the Planning Commission was doing a good job of raising public concerns. The Planning Commission, to date, has failed to discuss wildlife and habitat issues, or conflicting land uses planned along the shoreline, despite concerns raised by the public. The Planning Commission is concerned only with profits for developers and ensuring that there is no "proscriptive restrictions" on what private developers can do.... which includes things like historic preservation.
The Planning Commission is still accepting comments on the watefront plans, before they issue a recomendation and forward the proposal to the City Council. Public comment is generally most effective when received earlier in the planning process. If you have comments, you can send them to Planningcommission@cob.org.
Thu, May 16, 2013, 11:55 am // Wendy HarrisThe public process on the revised waterfront plans is an empty charade
1 comments; last on May 17, 2013
Wed, May 15, 2013, 10:23 pm // Wendy HarrisThe political censor police are listening to you
5 comments; last on May 16, 2013
Fri, May 10, 2013, 9:22 am // Wendy HarrisThe City Planning Commission Advocates "Free Market Capitalism" Approach to Waterfront Planning.
1 comments; last on May 12, 2013
Thu, May 09, 2013, 11:07 pm // Wendy HarrisA recent letter by the Parks Department fails to contain reassurance that the geese will be safe from extermination this year.
Fri, May 03, 2013, 10:16 pm // Wendy HarrisThe Humane Society is bringing herding dogs to control Silver Lake geese, but it is not an optimal situation for success.
Wed, May 01, 2013, 10:31 pm // Wendy HarrisThe County Parks Department has allocated funding for playground equipment, but has not allocated funding for wildlife management planning.
1 comments; last on May 03, 2013
Wed, Apr 24, 2013, 6:05 pm // Wendy HarrisThe only urgency underscored by the Silver Lake geese is the urgency of enacting a comprehensive wildlife strategy.
4 comments; last on Apr 29, 2013
Sat, Apr 20, 2013, 10:52 am // Wendy HarrisThere will be no due process for the Canada geese, or the public, before the County Parks Department lethally removes the geese from Silver Lake
4 comments; last on Apr 24, 2013
Wed, Apr 10, 2013, 10:24 pm // Wendy HarrisThe Waterfront District Sub-Area Plan needs policies that favor adaptive reuse and preservation of historic waterfront structures
Sat, Apr 06, 2013, 1:06 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city's proposed new Economic Development Chapter is based on an outdated economic theory
1 comments; last on Apr 06, 2013
Fri, Apr 05, 2013, 3:59 pm // Wendy HarrisNew slaughterhouse proposal "wishes away" current agricultural zoning restrictions.
10 comments; last on Apr 21, 2013
Mon, Apr 01, 2013, 3:00 pm // Wendy HarrisGovernment agencies responsible for the GPT project have completed review of the scoping comments.
Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 9:36 pm // Wendy HarrisA beneficial reuse provision in the Waterfront District Sub-Area Plan would allow construction materials that are contaminated with bioaccumulative toxins.
Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 8:59 pm // Wendy HarrisThe City Planning Department has included a technical document in the waterfront proposal without disclosing important impacts.
1 comments; last on Mar 30, 2013
Fri, Mar 01, 2013, 4:19 pm // Wendy HarrisA variance request pending before the City could create a loophole for developers seeking to avoid compliance with development standards.
5 comments; last on Mar 07, 2013
Tue, Feb 19, 2013, 9:40 pm // Wendy HarrisAn "Updated Preferred Alternative" reduces the number of waterfront jobs and expands the boundary of the waterfront district.
Wed, Feb 13, 2013, 2:59 pm // Wendy HarrisParticipate in the public process by commenting on the new Economic Development chapter to the city comprehensive plan
1 comments; last on Feb 15, 2013
Wed, Jan 30, 2013, 12:09 am // Wendy HarrisThe planning commission no longer serves its purpose due to Council's poor appointment choices
2 comments; last on Feb 10, 2013
Mon, Jan 28, 2013, 1:52 am // Wendy HarrisImproving ecosystem functions holistically is the best form of protection for the Lake Whatcom.
1 comments; last on Jan 28, 2013
Tue, Jan 22, 2013, 6:19 pm // Wendy HarrisLinks to a few noteworthy GPT scoping comments .
1 comments; last on Jan 22, 2013
Fri, Jan 11, 2013, 1:35 pm // Wendy HarrisA proposed amendment to the Lake Whatcom watershed moratorium will increase water quality degradation
1 comments; last on Jan 12, 2013
Sun, Jan 06, 2013, 11:49 pm // Wendy HarrisWatch the Whatcom County Council wiggle its way out of the latest round of GMA compliance requirements for Lake Whatcom
Fri, Jan 04, 2013, 11:37 pm // Wendy HarrisCouncil majority willing to spend, and spend, and spend public funds defending development rights
2 comments; last on Jan 05, 2013
Sun, Dec 09, 2012, 2:21 pm // Wendy HarrisPer capita, Washington is one of the top states nationwide for providing private business incentives.
Sun, Dec 02, 2012, 6:24 pm // Wendy HarrisAn Ineffective Starling Control Contract That Provides A Subsidy To Farmers Should Be Removed From the County Council Budget
1 comments; last on Dec 03, 2012
Sat, Dec 01, 2012, 3:42 pm // Wendy HarrisThe proposal to allow slaughterhouses and rendering plants in the agriculture zone ignores nearby, and more appropriate, rural industrial zoning.
3 comments; last on Dec 02, 2012
Fri, Nov 16, 2012, 10:02 pm // Wendy HarrisProposed Stormwater Standards For Lake Whatcom Watershed Protect Developers Rather Than Lake
5 comments; last on Nov 20, 2012
Wed, Oct 31, 2012, 11:45 pm // Wendy HarrisCounty Council ready to move forward despite the many remaining questions regaring public health and safety
8 comments; last on Nov 04, 2012
Thu, Oct 11, 2012, 3:25 pm // Wendy HarrisReduced public services and facilities yet another public cost for private development
Thu, Sep 20, 2012, 9:04 pm // Wendy HarrisA proposal to zone slaugherhouses on agricultural land will have negative consequences for farmers and residents.
12 comments; last on Sep 30, 2012
Wed, Sep 12, 2012, 2:22 pm // Wendy HarrisIrrational and uninformed last minute opposition derails 5+ year effort to protect Lake Whatcom.
5 comments; last on Sep 18, 2012
Wed, Sep 05, 2012, 10:18 pm // Wendy HarrisThe City has released its letter, but not its poor policy determination regarding exemption from the Public Records Act.
1 comments; last on Sep 06, 2012
Thu, Aug 23, 2012, 8:54 pm // Wendy HarrisIs a popular but flawed philosophy affecting local government policy?
2 comments; last on Aug 25, 2012
Thu, Aug 16, 2012, 11:50 pm // Wendy HarrisThe Mayor's Negotiations With Costco Undercuts City Permit Procedures And Public Process
4 comments; last on Aug 17, 2012
Tue, Aug 14, 2012, 2:53 pm // Wendy HarrisFewer development proposals will be subject to environmental review and public process under interim state law
1 comments; last on Aug 15, 2012
Thu, Jul 19, 2012, 11:06 pm // Wendy HarrisWind towers disproportionately kill raptors and bats, which has the potential to create signficant ecosystem imbalance.
4 comments; last on Aug 01, 2012
Sun, Jun 10, 2012, 10:48 pm // Wendy HarrisHealthy ecosystems provide important benefits to humans and are sustained through wildlife corridors that protect biodiversity.
4 comments; last on Jun 11, 2012
Sun, Jun 03, 2012, 8:15 pm // Wendy HarrisThe Birch Bay Watershed Action Plan needs to do a better job of protecting and restoring habitat.
Mon, May 21, 2012, 2:14 pm // Wendy HarrisAfter years of debate, the County Council may be requesting that DNR approve the Reconveyance
Tue, May 15, 2012, 6:32 pm // Wendy HarrisA City staff memo on the Bloedel dock closure reads more like an advocacy brief
Mon, May 07, 2012, 10:22 am // Wendy HarrisDioxin contaminated sediment dredged from Squalicum Harbor, dumped at the Cornwall Landfill, may be spread across the R.G. Haley site.
Fri, May 04, 2012, 11:13 pm // Wendy HarrisTreaty Rights and Public Rights Ignored During Joint Port/City Meeting on Status of Waterfront Redevelopment
1 comments; last on May 07, 2012
Thu, Mar 29, 2012, 9:32 pm // Wendy HarrisDevelopment at Bloedel Park ignores impacts to important shoreline habitat
2 comments; last on Mar 31, 2012
Fri, Feb 17, 2012, 7:54 pm // Wendy HarrisAttempts by the County Council Chairperson to move the open public comment period to the end of a Council meeting will reduce public input.
1 comments; last on Mar 14, 2012
Wed, Feb 15, 2012, 12:38 pm // Wendy HarrisLesa Starkenburg, former County contract attorney for GMA appeal, demands recusal of Council members who oppose development proposal by her private client, Nor'West Gravel
1 comments; last on Feb 16, 2012
Sun, Jan 29, 2012, 11:16 pm // Wendy HarrisThe County's rural planning actions have not just failed to comply with the GMA...they have contradicted the goals of the GMA.
3 comments; last on Feb 05, 2012
Sun, Jan 15, 2012, 12:06 am // Wendy HarrisPlanning Commissioner Onkels should recuse himself from review of environmental impacts at GPT.
3 comments; last on Feb 08, 2012
Mon, Jan 09, 2012, 12:02 am // Wendy HarrisThe County's proposed stormwater regulations for Lake Whatcom will increase development without improving water quality
2 comments; last on Jan 20, 2012
Fri, Dec 30, 2011, 12:59 pm // Wendy HarrisDecide for yourself if this blog comment, posted under my own name, should have been flagged and removed from the Bellingham Herald Online Edition.
1 comments; last on Dec 31, 2011
Fri, Dec 30, 2011, 12:14 pm // Wendy HarrisAnyone can "flag" a blog posting, resulting in immediate removal of your comment, regardless of merit. This is occuring for comments supporting OB.
1 comments; last on Dec 30, 2011
Wed, Dec 28, 2011, 9:26 pm // Wendy HarrisThe City infringed on the public’s right to peaceful assembly in a public park by enforcing an inappropriate public safety law
2 comments; last on Dec 30, 2011
Sun, Dec 18, 2011, 9:43 pm // Wendy HarrisRelocation of a dock to Bloedel Donovan Park underscores failure to protect Lake Whatcom from invasive species
Wed, Dec 14, 2011, 8:05 am // Wendy HarrisClaiming it is unfair to treat large property owners different than small property owners, the Commission refuses to remove industrial areas from buffer mitigation proposal.
Wed, Dec 07, 2011, 8:00 am // Wendy HarrisTell the Planning Commission to eliminate this loophole
2 comments; last on Dec 14, 2011
Fri, Dec 02, 2011, 2:08 pm // Wendy HarrisPlanning Staff's recommended revision will not prevent SSA from reducing wetland buffers.
Tue, Nov 22, 2011, 10:29 pm // Wendy HarrisThe County's new mitigation proposal is unlikely to be adequate for Cherry Point's industrial impacts to habitat buffers
3 comments; last on Nov 24, 2011
Mon, Nov 14, 2011, 11:07 am // Wendy HarrisProposed new storm water regulations will increase Lake Whatcom development. Hearing this Thursday.
1 comments; last on Nov 14, 2011
Sun, Nov 06, 2011, 10:48 pm // Wendy HarrisImportant events concerning the Lake occurred during the election with little comment from the public, the candidates or the media.
16 comments; last on Nov 10, 2011
Fri, Jul 22, 2011, 6:35 am // Wendy HarrisA pro-active, extremely cost effective solution for protecting Lake Whatcom exists!
3 comments; last on Jul 22, 2011
Sun, Jul 03, 2011, 2:05 pm // Wendy HarrisPersistent, bioaccumulative toxins, such as dioxin, pose a special environmental challenge
2 comments; last on Jul 07, 2011
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