A minority of one: An open letter to my fellow Bellingham residentsPermalink +
Sun, Aug 19, 2012, 9:29 pm // Larry Horowitz
It may come as a shock to some, but until April 2005, I had never attended a city- or developer- sponsored meeting, nor had I ever been inside Bellingham’s City Hall or any other city hall where I’ve lived. Keep in mind, I’ve been a homeowner since 1984, so that's 21 years of absolute inactivity.
Since that fateful day in 2005, I have found myself to be a lone voice in the wilderness all too often. Who has the time and energy to be active in civic affairs or to scale the steep learning curve - like where City Hall is even located or what a planning commission is? Certainly, no one’s paying me no ‘big bucks’ to do it. Without the financial incentive to get involved, why bother? Right?
Given the disincentive to get involved, it’s really no surprise I often find myself alone in what I know to be true.
Years ago, I stumbled across a quote by Mohandas (aka Mahatma) Gandhi that really spoke to me:
“Even if I am a minority of one, the truth is the truth.”
I have found, as fortune would have it, that the truth has magnetic properties, and before you know it you are no longer a minority.
A case in point: I have recently been told by an elected official that what I know to be true about Bellingham’s ability to accommodate population growth “is not likely to gain great traction in Bellingham, or anywhere in Whatcom County, because it's considered a pretty radical concept.”
With that in mind, I’d like to:
- share what I know to be true;
- explore why this truth is such a radical concept;
- and ask you, my fellow residents of this great city, to let me know if the truth has gained any traction with you.
First, the truth:
* There is enough developable land in Bellingham and its urban growth area (UGA) to accommodate the city’s projected population growth.
* There is no pressure or need to expand the UGA.
* There is no pressure or need to increase the zoning density in established residential neighborhoods.
How do I know this? Because, in 2005, a member of the Whatcom County Planning Commission asked me to take a look at the Bellingham Land Supply Analysis (LSA). And I did.
What I found was a number of items requiring adjustment, many of which the city agreed to correct. By doing so, the paradigm in which it appeared the city’s land supply was not sufficient began to change. All of a sudden, the city realized that its land supply may actually be adequate after all. Unfortunately, recommendations to expand the UGA and increase zoning densities had already been adopted and set in motion, so this paradigm shift was completely unwelcome.
When I continued to find items needing adjustment, I was told the city would no longer adopt any of my recommendations. At the time, the most glaring error involved the amount of developable land the city planned to acquire to expand its park system. The number of acres used in the LSA and Land Use Chapter differed from, and was inconsistent with, the number of acres called for in both the Park Plan and the Capital Facilities Chapter of the city’s Comprehensive (Comp) Plan. It was clear that the LSA was flawed, but the city refused to either acknowledge or correct the error.
To make a long story short, four of us filed a petition with the Growth Management Hearings Board (GMHB) claiming that the city’s Comp Plan contained an internal inconsistency which violated the Growth Management Act (GMA). The GMHB agreed but ultimately allowed the city to retain the error in the LSA and Land Use Chapter as long as the error was used consistently in the Park Plan and Capital Facilities Chapter. The error itself was glaring because it resulted in a $100 million budget shortfall when comparing the cost of land the city said it would purchase with the funds available to do so.
Two years later, in 2008, the city finally corrected the error when the newly adopted Park Plan reduced the amount of parkland the city agreed (and could afford) to acquire by 1,132 acres.
Of course, in order to comply with the internal consistency requirement of the GMA, the city was then obligated to modify its LSA and Land Use Chapter to reflect the newly adopted Park Plan. Naturally, the city refused to do so, and the initial error remains in the LSA and Land Use Chapter of the Comp Plan to this day.
Since 2006, when the Comp Plan was adopted, the City has added to its UGA – and then annexed - the King Mountain neighborhood. This addition has never been reflected in the city’s LSA.
Additionally, the city has increased the zoning density in a number of locations since the LSA was adopted. None of these capacity increases have been reflected in the LSA.
These three significant capacity-expanding actions have created a new paradigm:
- The city’s land supply is sufficient to accommodate its projected population growth.
- The so-called pressure to figure out how to accommodate population is imaginary; it doesn’t exist.
- The city does not need to expand its UGA, nor does the city need to add multi-family zoning in established single family neighborhoods.
So why is this truth so radical?
By talking with people who attended the various growth forums, I’ve learned that the city long ago presented the community with a false dilemma. Residents were told that the city did not have sufficient land to house its projected population and were offered only those choices that expanded the city’s capacity: build up or out.
The fact is, the city’s land supply is sufficient, and the dilemma presented by the city was false. The city was prescribing treatment for an ailment that simply did not exist. The truth is radical now only because the fiction has been so well established.
Is it not time to finally tell the truth?
So now I turn it over to you, my fellow residents:
Has this truth gained any traction with you?
Mon, May 23, 2016, 5:21 am
Sat, May 21, 2016, 4:32 pm
10 comments; last on May 25, 2016
Wed, May 18, 2016, 4:46 pm
2 comments; last on May 24, 2016
Tue, May 17, 2016, 7:45 pm
2 comments; last on May 18, 2016
Mon, May 16, 2016, 5:20 am
Sat, May 14, 2016, 9:34 am
2 comments; last on May 15, 2016
Mon, May 09, 2016, 12:10 pm
4 comments; last on May 09, 2016
Sat, May 07, 2016, 10:47 pm
3 comments; last on May 24, 2016
Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 7:04 pm
4 comments; last on May 03, 2016
Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 3:46 pm
1 comments; last on Apr 27, 2016
Thu, Apr 21, 2016, 8:40 pm
3 comments; last on Apr 24, 2016
Wed, Apr 20, 2016, 8:01 pm
1 comments; last on Apr 21, 2016
Tue, Apr 19, 2016, 5:14 am
Mon, Apr 18, 2016, 11:55 am
6 comments; last on Apr 19, 2016
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 10:43 pm
5 comments; last on Apr 14, 2016
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 9:09 am
3 comments; last on Apr 14, 2016
Mon, Apr 11, 2016, 1:06 am
11 comments; last on Apr 23, 2016
Wed, Apr 06, 2016, 9:18 pm
5 comments; last on Apr 09, 2016
Wed, Apr 06, 2016, 1:14 pm
5 comments; last on Apr 07, 2016
Mon, Apr 04, 2016, 8:17 pm
2 comments; last on Apr 05, 2016
Mon, Apr 04, 2016, 5:25 am
2 comments; last on May 24, 2016
Fri, Apr 01, 2016, 3:49 pm
3 comments; last on Apr 02, 2016
Wed, Mar 23, 2016, 2:37 pm
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 8:26 pm
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 12:19 am
4 comments; last on Mar 24, 2016
Tue, Mar 15, 2016, 12:04 am
2 comments; last on Mar 17, 2016
Mon, Mar 14, 2016, 1:53 am
Sun, Mar 13, 2016, 1:06 pm
1 comments; last on Mar 14, 2016
Fri, Mar 11, 2016, 11:28 pm
2 comments; last on Mar 13, 2016
Wed, Mar 09, 2016, 11:20 pm
Wed, Mar 09, 2016, 2:20 pm
1 comments; last on Mar 12, 2016
Tue, Mar 08, 2016, 2:47 pm
Tue, Mar 08, 2016, 1:15 am
6 comments; last on Mar 12, 2016
Mon, Mar 07, 2016, 10:40 am
6 comments; last on Mar 08, 2016
Sun, Mar 06, 2016, 11:39 pm
1 comments; last on Mar 07, 2016
Tue, Mar 01, 2016, 3:40 pm
Mon, Feb 29, 2016, 11:55 pm
1 comments; last on Mar 01, 2016
Sat, Feb 27, 2016, 1:24 pm
Tue, Feb 23, 2016, 5:01 am
4 comments; last on Mar 01, 2016
Thu, Feb 18, 2016, 5:01 am
16 comments; last on Feb 22, 2016
Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 8:54 pm
2 comments; last on Feb 19, 2016
Tue, Feb 09, 2016, 5:02 am
5 comments; last on Feb 10, 2016
Mon, Feb 08, 2016, 6:26 am
Fri, Feb 05, 2016, 12:45 pm
4 comments; last on Feb 12, 2016
Wed, Feb 03, 2016, 5:49 pm
4 comments; last on Feb 04, 2016
Wed, Feb 03, 2016, 2:53 pm
Mon, Feb 01, 2016, 4:00 am
2 comments; last on Feb 04, 2016
Sun, Jan 31, 2016, 12:04 pm
3 comments; last on Feb 04, 2016
Mon, Jan 18, 2016, 6:35 am
1 comments; last on Jan 20, 2016
Tue, Jan 12, 2016, 12:18 am
1 comments; last on Jan 13, 2016
Wed, Dec 30, 2015, 1:15 am
Tue, Dec 29, 2015, 12:06 pm
4 comments; last on Dec 31, 2015
Fri, Dec 25, 2015, 11:31 am
2 comments; last on Dec 25, 2015
Mon, Dec 21, 2015, 3:14 am
Sat, Dec 19, 2015, 12:11 pm
1 comments; last on Dec 20, 2015
Mon, Dec 14, 2015, 4:58 pm
Wed, Dec 02, 2015, 9:31 pm
3 comments; last on Dec 06, 2015
Mon, Nov 30, 2015, 6:29 am
Mon, Nov 23, 2015, 6:41 am
7 comments; last on Dec 27, 2015
Mon, Nov 16, 2015, 11:41 pm
9 comments; last on Nov 19, 2015
About NWCitizenDonations maintain site
Thru the years
Election LinksJeff Strung / WA Auditor
Mike LaPointe / US Congress
League of Women VotersCalendar of Events
Videos of Districting Committee
Local Online NewsBellingham Herald
Bham Business Journal
Bham Politics & Econ
Western Front - WWU
Local CausesChuckanut C. Forest
City Club of Bellingham
Community Wise Bham
Futurewise - Whatcom
Lummi Island Quarry
N. Cascades Audubon
NW Holocaust Center
Powder River Basin R. C.
Salish Sea Org.
Save the Granary
WA Conservation Voters
Whatcom Peace & Justice
Our Governments- Whatcom County
Port of Bellingham
US Supreme Court
US The White House
NWCitizen 1995-2007Early Northwest Citizen
Weather & ClimateCliff Mass Weather Blog
EPIC World Photos
Nat Hurricane Center
Two day forecast
Watts Up With That?
Local LeisureAdventures NW
Good Web SitesAl-Jazeera online
Change The Mascot
Edge of Sports
Foreign Policy in Focus
Julia Ioffe/New Republic
Middle East Times
New American Century
Personal bio info
Portland Indy Media
Project Vote Smart
Stand for the Troops
Talking Points Memo
The Crisis Papers
War and Piece
Quiet, Offline or DeadBellingham Register
Bhm Herald Politics Blog
Citizens of Bellingham
Cordata & Meridian
Facebook Port Reform
Friends of Whatcom
Get Whatcom Planning
Intrnational Herald Tribune
N. Sound Conservancy
No Leaky Buckets
Protect Bellingham Parks
The American Telegraph