You can’t fight city hall: city hall doesn’t fight fairPermalink +
Fri, Aug 22, 2014, 2:06 pm // Guest writer
Pat McKee guest writes this. He is a resident of Sunnyland and was a leader in their seven year planning effort.
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.
Fri, Aug 22, 2014, 2:06 pm // Guest writerPatrick McKee of the Sunnyland Neighborhood guest-writes about the August 11 City Council slap-dash zoning changes.
2 comments; last on Aug 23, 2014
Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 3:48 pm // Guest writerJudith 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
Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 11:31 pm // John ServaisBellingham City Council abruptly changes zoning codes to force Planning Department plan on Sunnyland residents.
7 comments; last on Aug 14, 2014
Tue, Jun 10, 2014, 11:20 am // John ServaisBellingham Hearing Examiner, Dawn Sturwold, retires in three weeks. Successor selection is hidden from all of us.
3 comments; last on Jun 11, 2014
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1 comments; last on Mar 10, 2014
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2 comments; last on Feb 03, 2014
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4 comments; last on Dec 05, 2013
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1 comments; last on Jul 12, 2013
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3 comments; last on Jun 14, 2013
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1 comments; last on Apr 22, 2013
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1 comments; last on Feb 23, 2013
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2 comments; last on Feb 10, 2013
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1 comments; last on Jan 22, 2013
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1 comments; last on Nov 12, 2012
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3 comments; last on Nov 06, 2012
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7 comments; last on Dec 02, 2012
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1 comments; last on Dec 02, 2012
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4 comments; last on Aug 17, 2012
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21 comments; last on Aug 17, 2012
Thu, Jul 26, 2012, 8:18 am // Larry Horowitz... the person who recently had this to say about the Sunnyland Neighborhood rezone application
9 comments; last on Aug 01, 2012
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7 comments; last on Apr 19, 2012
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2 comments; last on Feb 01, 2012
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3 comments; last on Dec 16, 2011
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7 comments; last on Nov 30, 2011
Mon, Nov 21, 2011, 2:00 am // Guest writerWith budget woes, Bellingham passes on safety in favor of cash. Starting in 2008, Bellingham officials were coached by ATS on how to get Red Light cameras through…
26 comments; last on Nov 30, 2011
Tue, Nov 15, 2011, 11:43 am // Dick ConoboyThe Padden Trails rezone effort is a misuse of the Infill Tool Kit on the outskirts of Bellingham.
8 comments; last on Nov 16, 2011
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5 comments; last on May 05, 2011
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17 comments; last on Mar 29, 2011
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5 comments; last on Feb 09, 2011
Wed, Dec 08, 2010, 3:21 am // John ServaisWikiLeaks' Julian Assange faces rape charges. The facts are revealed only by foreign news media.
14 comments; last on Dec 15, 2010
Wed, Dec 01, 2010, 9:59 pm // John ServaisUpdated Dec 3. I support WikiLeaks and their release of government documents so citizens can vote intelligently.
12 comments; last on Dec 07, 2010
Tue, Nov 23, 2010, 10:06 am // John ServaisSeth Fleetwood was one vote against, saying this is an Orwellian notion.
4 comments; last on Nov 25, 2010
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6 comments; last on Nov 26, 2010
Open letter to Bellingham Planning Director Jeff Thomas re: Fairhaven Highlands application deadline
Sun, Oct 31, 2010, 7:20 pm // Larry HorowitzUpdated Sun, Oct 31. An open letter to Bellingham Planning Director Jeff Thomas re: Fairhaven Highlands application deadline
12 comments; last on Oct 28, 2010
Wed, Sep 01, 2010, 3:40 pm // John ServaisA petition to the federal government online at skookum.us. It asks they step in to resolve the impasse between the Lummi and Whatcom County.
2 comments; last on Sep 06, 2010
Sat, Aug 07, 2010, 10:18 am // John ServaisA library card from any Whatcom County library can now be used at any library in the county
5 comments; last on Aug 15, 2010
Wed, Aug 04, 2010, 10:12 am // John ServaisBellingham Planning Department is giving quiet extensions to the Chuckanut Ridge developer - propping up the property value.
1 comments; last on Aug 04, 2010
Mon, May 03, 2010, 6:36 am // Riley SweeneyIs the referendum/initiative process about being a citizen legislator, or more like voting to put something on the ballot?
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2 comments; last on Feb 07, 2010
Wed, Feb 03, 2010, 5:39 pm // Guest writerBy guest writer Marilyn Olsen. A Bill seeks to impose fees on those requesting access to public documents.
2 comments; last on Feb 07, 2010
Wed, Jan 27, 2010, 6:59 am // Ham HayesIssues are no longer relevant when secrecy is the name of the game.
1 comments; last on Jan 27, 2010
Sat, Jan 23, 2010, 8:15 pm // Tip JohnsonThe Lummi Nation appears prepared to implement a threatened blockade of Lummi Island commencing February 14th
1 comments; last on Jan 24, 2010
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