You can’t fight city hall: city hall doesn’t fight fair

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Fri, Aug 22, 2014, 2:06 pm  //  Guest writer

Where "Residential Single" is redefined to mean multi and high density, and not single residential homes. A city hall deception.

Pat McKee guest writes this.  He is a resident of Sunnyland and was a leader in their seven year planning effort.

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The future look of Bellingham's distinctive single family neighborhoods will soon be on display in Sub Area 8 of the Sunnyland Neighborhood. Sub Area 8 is located between Sunset Dr. and Illinois St, adjacent to the blue dome of St Sophia Church. The four acre area is commonly referred to as "the DOT site."

The Bellingham Planning Department staff took extraordinary, unprecedented steps, so you can see what they're going to do to your neighborhood in the near future. The planning staff amended the infamous "Infill Toolkit Code" Chapter 20.28.020.A by simply adding the words "and in Area 8 of the Sunnyland Neighborhood." For the first time, in a "residential single-detached" zoning area, all infill housing forms can now be constructed in Sub Area 8. Everything from courtyard apartment buildings, townhouses, triplexes, cottage houses, carriage houses, and detached ADU's are permitted. Normally, amending city code requires 30 days public notice, followed by Planning Commission and Bellingham City Council public hearings. Letters are sent and public testimony is recorded. None of the above was done in this case.

Mayor Linville and her staff are planning to insert tool kit housing forms into older center-city neighborhoods. The mayor no longer uses the term "infill housing." The mayor and Council Committee Chairman Weiss are working on ways to locate "innovative housing" in areas where infrastructure, and transit are in place. Translated, that means the distinctive, older single family neighborhoods we know and love, will be in-filled.

In 2007, the Sunnyland Neighborhood Association (SNA) held large neighborhood meetings, distributed questionnaires, and conducted neighborhood surveys. There was a strong consensus in the neighborhood that Sub Area 8 should be rezoned similar to the surrounding single family zoned areas. SNA drew up an amendment and rezone proposal for Sub Area 8. The zoning was "Residential Single, Detached." Density was described in dwelling units per square foot. Lot sizes were flexible. This was intended to make the most efficient use of the land available. SNA estimated that lot sizes would range from 3600sf. to 5000sf. Seven dwelling units per acre, or a total of 28 dwelling units would be permitted on the site. Craftsman-style home design standards were required. The plan offered a possible future option of two unit, owner occupied townhouses fronting on Sunset Dr. In 2008, Bellingham Planning Director Tim Steward stated that the SNA Sub Area 8 amendment and rezone proposal met all of his criteria, and he docketed the proposal for consideration by the City Council.

Ever since 2008, planning dept staff have wanted to use Sunnyland's Sub Area 8 as a stage on which to display infill housing forms. The SNA Sub Area 8 rezone plan was largely a traditional single family zoning proposal, and did not fit in with planning staff goals. City staff tried to discredit, and block the SNA proposal. From 2007 to 2014, the Bellingham Planning Department never scheduled a City Council public hearing for the SNA rezone proposal.The planning department pulled every trick in the book to block or delay the SNA proposal from consideration by the City Council. In February 2010, after waiting for two years on the city docket, the planning dept dropped the SNA proposal from the docket. SNA was given no notification or explanation. In July 2012, the City Council put the SNA proposal on the annual docket for the second time. The planning department delayed a City Council public hearing for two more years.

In July 2014, the City Council held a public hearing to consider the SNA DOT Site rezone proposal. At the hearing, planning staff submitted a completely new alternative rezone proposal for the council to consider. The City Council rejected the staff proposal, and referred the SNA proposal to the Council Planning Committee. The next Council Planning Committee meeting on August 4th was supposed to discuss the SNA rezone, but once again the planning department staff brought another alternative proposal. The planning department proposal permits townhouses, cottage houses, carriage houses, detached ADU's, and small detached houses. The plan allows 35 primary dwelling units. ADU's will likely bring the actual dwelling unit count to over 40 units. The zoning is "Residential-single-detached/mixed." The use of the "mixed" qualifier permits attached housing like townhouses and leaves open the possibility for multi-family housing with future Sub Area 8 code changes. This time the council committee dropped the SNA proposal, and accepted the planning staff rezone proposal.

On August 11th, the full City Council approved a planning staff amendment and rezone of Sub Area 8 in Sunnyland by a 5-1 vote. The well paid, full time city staff made certain that the hundreds of hours of volunteer citizen work that went into Sunnyland's proposal was never considered by City Council.

YOU CAN'T FIGHT CITY HALL. YOU HAVE TO ELECT A CITY COUNCIL, WHO WILL FIGHT FOR YOU.
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Gene Knutson  //  Fri, Aug 22, 2014, 4:15 pm

City Hall doesn’t fight fair, well paid staff, unprecedented steps, are very sad words Patrick. I do agree that you and your group got a raw deal from the last two planning directors and two past mayors but this council and mayor and staff have bent over like pretzels trying to find something that works. Let me quote from the code that has everybody all worked up, The council can modify,change,reject or come up with there own plan when it comes to a docketed plan. Again this plan was not vetted by the planning dept but it is not our fault or the current directors fault either. You quote the Toolkit, Terry and I tried to get that out and were told by you and others no we have to keep it in, then Mr. Edelstein gave in and told staff he would try it and so Greg brought forward an amendment and it was passed. Nothing illegal or deceptive just an idea that was agreed to. The council worked very hard to keep that area single family and I think we did.


Patrick McKee  //  Sat, Aug 23, 2014, 1:06 pm

The Growth Management Act limits changes to Comprehensive Plans to once a year. Bellingham uses an annual docketing process to comply with State law, and consider Neighborhood Plan amendments once a year. The docketing process is spelled out in City law. A key provision of that law is BMC 20.20.020.A, “Only the city council can place a proposed amendment on the review docket”
    The City Council placed a Sunnyland Neighborhood Plan Amendment on the annual docket for review in July 2012. The proposed amendment will get a city council public hearing on July 21, 2014. The Council can “Approve, Modify or Deny” (BMC 20.20.020.B) the proposed amendment.   
    Since the SNA amendment was docketed in July 2012, the Planning Dept has never met with the SNA Board to discuss possible modifications to the SNA amendment. The Planning Dept chose to ignore city law, and write their own new proposal. The Planning Dept has added this “Alternative Proposal” to the July 21st agenda to be considered for approval by City Council. The SNA proposal and the Alternative Proposal are fundamentally different. One is a “single-family use type” proposal. The other is a “multi-family use type” proposal. The SNA proposal envisions an area dominated by single-family detached homes. The “Alternative Proposal” does not require even one single-family detached house to be built on the site.
    The Planning Dept is misusing the amendment process to make changes to the Comprehensive Plan, which were never docketed by the City Council. The Planning Dept is taking an applicant’s proposed amendment and turning it into something the applicant never intended.
    The Planning Dept “Alternative Proposal” was not docketed by the City Council, as is required by BMC 20.20. Therefore, the proposal should be dropped from the July 21st Public Hearing agenda.

 


You can’t fight city hall: city hall doesn’t fight fair

Fri, Aug 22, 2014, 2:06 pm  //  Guest writer

Patrick McKee of the Sunnyland Neighborhood guest-writes about the August 11 City Council slap-dash zoning changes.

2 comments; last on Aug 23, 2014

Devil In the Details

Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 3:48 pm  //  Guest writer

Judith Green of the Sunnyland Neighborhood guest writes this brief summary of what went wrong with the planning last week.

1 comments; last on Aug 22, 2014

Paper Dreams in Fairhaven

Next door to Village Books

Fleetwood versus Ericksen: What Happened in Round One?

Tue, Aug 12, 2014, 10:52 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Some Context for the Primary Results

0 comments

The Rule of Law - Bellingham Style

Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 11:31 pm  //  John Servais

Bellingham City Council abruptly changes zoning codes to force Planning Department plan on Sunnyland residents.

7 comments; last on Aug 14, 2014

Northwest Citizen Releases Polling of Whatcom Voters

Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 11:40 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Northwest Citizen has conducted a phone poll of likely voters, with some surprising results!

9 comments; last on Jul 29, 2014

Sunnyland Planning Process Explained - Partially

Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 10:47 pm  //  Guest writer

Guest writer Mike Rostron explains how Bellingham city planners played loose and illegal with planning processes.

0 comments

City Council Approves Resident’s Sunnyland Plan

Tue, Jul 22, 2014, 7:22 pm  //  John Servais

Sunnlyland residents win one - after a seven year effort. Planning Department failed them and all of us.

2 comments; last on Jul 23, 2014

What Landlords Need to Know about Rental Registration

Mon, Jul 21, 2014, 5:30 am  //  Guest writer

Landlords are so caught up opposing a licensing and inspection ordinance, they cannot see the upside for them in ridding the city of bad rentals.

19 comments; last on Aug 01, 2014

Sunnyland Deja Vu

Fri, Jul 18, 2014, 1:24 pm  //  Guest writer

Judith Green explains how the Bellingham Planning Department is trying to cram their plan onto a neighborhood.

5 comments; last on Jul 21, 2014

Dawn Sturwold Retiring End of Month

Tue, Jun 10, 2014, 11:20 am  //  John Servais

Bellingham Hearing Examiner, Dawn Sturwold, retires in three weeks. Successor selection is hidden from all of us.

3 comments; last on Jun 11, 2014

Feint, Calumny, Solidarity

Wed, May 28, 2014, 3:15 pm  //  Guest writer

A perspective by guest writer Ellen Murphy reflects on the Whatcom Watch and the threatened law suit by Craig Cole.

22 comments; last on Jun 01, 2014

Bellingham’s 2013 Water Quality Report: The Facts But Not the Truth

Tue, May 13, 2014, 5:04 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Bellingham's annual water quality report indicates that city hall's propoganda machine is going strong

1 comments; last on May 14, 2014

Stay the Frack Out of Our Forearc

Sun, May 11, 2014, 2:20 pm  //  Terry Wechsler

Part 1: Introduction to the Bellingham Basin’s Potential for Fracking, Earthquakes, and Earthquakes Due to Fracking

3 comments; last on May 14, 2014

The Whatcom Republicans’ Huge PCO Advantage

Tue, May 06, 2014, 5:52 pm  //  Riley Sweeney

The value of a Precinct Committee Officer . . .

1 comments; last on May 07, 2014

Action Alert for Tonight: Waterfront Wildlife and Habitat Threatened

Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 11:43 am  //  Wendy Harris

The public needs to support city council and request that a waterfront habitat assessment include terrestrial species and habitat connectivity.

0 comments

Roosevelt Neighborhood Pleads for Left Turns

Wed, Apr 09, 2014, 9:07 am  //  Riley Sweeney

City pushes for Alabama Street improvements, residents speak out

3 comments; last on Apr 14, 2014

Reid Boiler Works Burns Down

Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 10:13 am  //  John Servais

The old empty Reid Boiler Works industrial building in Fairhaven burned to the ground Saturday night.

0 comments

City too Poor for Power Pennies or Discrimination?

Fri, Dec 27, 2013, 5:00 am  //  Guest writer

Guest writer Barbara Perry writes about Bellingham Parks refusal to allow motorized wheel chairs to recharge at public electrical outlets.

6 comments; last on Jan 03, 2014

Larrabee School; Its Future

Mon, Dec 09, 2013, 1:24 pm  //  Guest writer

Barbara Perry writes about the closed nature of the Bellingham School Board on the future of the Larrabee School.

1 comments; last on Dec 15, 2013

On Monday, City Council Votes “third and final” Approval of Waterfront Plan

Sat, Dec 07, 2013, 1:33 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Local activist calls on Bellingham City Council to table the unpopular waterfront plans and engage in meaningful public process

2 comments; last on Dec 08, 2013

Lecture on County Water Issues Draws Crowd

Sat, Dec 07, 2013, 12:03 am  //  Wendy Harris

The county will be required to consider water quality and water quantity when planning rural growth.

3 comments; last on Dec 10, 2013

Video Exposes City Council Dysfunction on Waterfront Plan

Thu, Dec 05, 2013, 12:58 pm  //  John Servais

The Political Junkie has posted a 3 minute video showing Bellingham City Council members explaining their idiocy for all of us to watch.

2 comments; last on Dec 06, 2013

The Bellingham “Riot” - Let’s Expand the Conversation

Thu, Dec 05, 2013, 6:00 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The post "riot" conversation is terribly lacking in several areas. We must expand the discussion or risk learning little from the experience.

3 comments; last on Dec 15, 2013

Cascadia Weekly Blasts Waterfront Plan

Wed, Dec 04, 2013, 11:53 am  //  John Servais

Bellingham City Council and Port of Bellingham finalize the waterfront plan. In his weekly Gristle, Tim Johnson blasts the corrupt public process.

4 comments; last on Dec 05, 2013

Election Results - November 2013

Tue, Nov 05, 2013, 9:21 pm  //  John Servais

With lots of outside county money flowing in to our local races, this election is weird. But real - and we county residents have spoken.

11 comments; last on Nov 09, 2013

Boulevard Park Reopens

Sat, Oct 26, 2013, 8:36 pm  //  John Servais

Beach reconstruction is done at Boulevard Park on the Bellingham waterfront. Paths along shore are again open - and it looks good.

6 comments; last on Nov 01, 2013

Treaty Rights and Public Rights Ignored In Overwater Walkway

Tue, Oct 08, 2013, 3:22 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The city staff considers the overwater walkway a done deal before official approval or resolution of treaty right conflicts

4 comments; last on Oct 16, 2013

Wildlife Impacts Missing In COB Waterfront District EIS

Sat, Sep 28, 2013, 6:05 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The city and port have not addressed wildlife impacts from waterfront development and this should be done before a waterfront plan is enacted.

0 comments

Over $330,000 raised and spent on elections in Whatcom County

Thu, Sep 19, 2013, 7:08 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley examines who is donating to which candidates

0 comments

Riley Covers Anti Syria War Demo

Sat, Aug 31, 2013, 3:10 pm  //  John Servais

Saturday afternoon - and a rally is taking place in downtown Bellingham against bombing Syria. Riley Sweeny and his Political Junkie site cover it.

0 comments

Water Agreement Fails Scrutiny

Wed, Aug 14, 2013, 12:31 am  //  Wendy Harris

The City of Bellingham memorandum of agreement with Lynden does not make sense. What is going on?

4 comments; last on Sep 11, 2013

Council Chooses Reasonable Regulation on Retail Marijuana

Tue, Aug 13, 2013, 10:26 am  //  Riley Sweeney

After attending the public hearing on the marijuana ban, Riley breaks down the good, the bad and the ugly

4 comments; last on Aug 20, 2013

Anatomy of a Development Proposal - Part IV Geology, Stormwater, Wetlands and Watershed

Mon, Jul 15, 2013, 9:08 am  //  Guest writer

The proposed development ought not proceed without a more extensive geological assessment and a thorough evaluation of the impacts on the Lincoln Creek watershed.

0 comments

Celebrations More Racist than Verdict

Sun, Jul 14, 2013, 11:25 am  //  John Servais

The explosion of hate and racist rhetoric is the saddest aspect of the verdict. The evidence was complicated and the verdict difficult to make.

2 comments; last on Jul 16, 2013

Anatomy of a Development Proposal - Part III University Ridge - Where Do I Park?

Mon, Jul 08, 2013, 1:30 pm  //  Guest writer

Ambling University Development has substantially underestimated the role of the car in the lives of its eventual student renters and their visitors.

2 comments; last on Jul 09, 2013

The Irony of City Council Attitudes

Wed, Jul 03, 2013, 12:06 pm  //  John Servais

Public process ignored. Citizen commenting castigated. Paranoid city legal department. Our city council merrily goes through another session.

6 comments; last on Aug 06, 2013

Anatomy of a Development Proposal - Part II Predictions of Dormitory Traffic Impacts Unrealistic

Wed, Jul 03, 2013, 12:02 pm  //  Guest writer

The traffic analysis for the University Ridge dormitory development in the Puget Neighborhood lacks realistic data and leads to incorrect conclusions that the city must address.

2 comments; last on Jul 04, 2013

Greenways Levy Money Used for AstroTurf

Sun, Jun 30, 2013, 11:28 am  //  John Servais

Bellingham City Council ready to approve $500,000 of trails money for resurfacing plastic grass on Civic Field.

15 comments; last on Jul 02, 2013

Anatomy of a Development Proposal - Part I The Variance

Wed, Jun 26, 2013, 8:04 pm  //  Dick Conoboy

A variance request without merit is the centerpiece of a development proposal to construct a complex of four dormitory-style buildings among single family homes in the Puget Neighborhood

0 comments

Intersection Art Comes to Happy Valley

Sun, Jun 09, 2013, 10:37 pm  //  John Servais

Intersection art - the painting of a design on the actual streets - is being developed in the Happy Valley neighborhood.

1 comments; last on Jun 15, 2013

Bellingham Passes Fireworks Ban

Mon, Jun 03, 2013, 10:05 pm  //  John Servais

City Council passes long-debated ban 4 to 3. It is effective in 2014.

0 comments

Our Water - War or Pieces?

Fri, May 24, 2013, 1:18 am  //  Guest writer

Marian Beddill provides a general guide for the public, with a look at the history of water rights in Washington state.

4 comments; last on May 26, 2013

Who is filing for elective offices???

Fri, May 17, 2013, 5:44 pm  //  John Servais

Tuesday morning and nothing in today's Bellingham Herald. Nor online. We provide the basics to fill in this latest omission by our "daily" newspaper.

9 comments; last on May 23, 2013

Help Save Larrabee Elementary School

Sat, May 04, 2013, 1:09 pm  //  Guest writer

Wendy Scherrer reminds all who support modest sized grade schools to try and attend the meeting Wed, May 8, in the evening.

3 comments; last on May 11, 2013

Waterfront “Planned Action Ordinance” Limits Restoration and Public Input

Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 9:59 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The City Planning Department has included a technical document in the waterfront proposal without disclosing important impacts.

1 comments; last on Mar 30, 2013

No City Housing Hearing on March 20

Tue, Mar 19, 2013, 10:05 am  //  John Servais

The Bellingham Herald article today is wrong. There is no hearing tomorrow, March 20

0 comments

Valuable Article in the Whatcom Watch

Sun, Mar 17, 2013, 9:42 pm  //  John Servais

Wendy Harris writes about the proposed $8 million concrete bridge along the Bellingham waterfront - using Greenways funds to build.

3 comments; last on Mar 20, 2013

PeaceHealth Merger Threatens Women’s Health in Whatcom County

Tue, Feb 26, 2013, 7:39 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley details upcoming merger between PeaceHealth and a much more conservative entity

1 comments; last on Feb 26, 2013

Petition to Establish a Bellingham Art Market

Mon, Feb 25, 2013, 6:51 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein artists have to eat, too!

0 comments

City Controls Chuckanut Park - Not New Park District

Fri, Feb 22, 2013, 3:47 pm  //  John Servais

The election created a new park district with taxing power - but with NO control over Chuckanut Ridge - the 100 acre woods.

1 comments; last on Feb 23, 2013

Waterfront EIS Revised Without Public Process

Tue, Feb 19, 2013, 10:40 pm  //  Wendy Harris

An "Updated Preferred Alternative" reduces the number of waterfront jobs and expands the boundary of the waterfront district.

0 comments

Thoughts on the Park District Vote

Wed, Feb 13, 2013, 4:42 pm  //  John Servais

The Park District vote is close and we will not know final results until late ballots are counted.

6 comments; last on Feb 19, 2013

Time to Vote on Park District

Sat, Feb 09, 2013, 1:14 am  //  John Servais

The proponents have avoided the issues on the Park District as the close of voting nears this weekend.

2 comments; last on Feb 12, 2013

Check the Protect Bellingham Parks Website

Wed, Feb 06, 2013, 11:42 pm  //  John Servais

When is a vote No the most positive and common sense action? Check the park district opponents website to learn why.

15 comments; last on Feb 10, 2013

Ironies With the Park District

Tue, Feb 05, 2013, 1:59 pm  //  John Servais

This Park District proposal has several ironic twists and facets - some involving the advocates.

10 comments; last on Feb 07, 2013

The Big Picture on Chuckanut Ridge

Sun, Feb 03, 2013, 4:05 pm  //  Guest writer

Nicholas Zaferatos explains why he is concerned about the park district and looks at the long and short term views if the issue.

11 comments; last on Feb 06, 2013

Chuckanut Mountains and the Park District

Fri, Feb 01, 2013, 4:16 pm  //  Guest writer

Dr. Gibb explains some history to the issue in a brief article.

8 comments; last on Feb 03, 2013

Former Park Directors Against Park District Proposal

Thu, Jan 31, 2013, 1:36 pm  //  Guest writer

Paul Leuthold and Byron Elmendorf explain why to vote NO on the Chuckanut Park District ballot measure.

19 comments; last on Feb 12, 2013

It Is Not a Vote to Save The Forest

Thu, Jan 31, 2013, 1:26 am  //  Guest writer

Guest post by long time south side resident Marci (Hanson) Haskell on why to vote no on the Park District

5 comments; last on Feb 01, 2013

Why I am voting NO on the Park Disttict

Wed, Jan 30, 2013, 10:40 am  //  John Servais

The Park District is a panic action that over taxes a small group. A city wide solution is by far the better way to proceed.

13 comments; last on Feb 01, 2013

 

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