Public Hearing on New Bellingham Economic Development PolicyPermalink +
Wed, Feb 13, 2013, 2:59 pm // Wendy Harris
A public hearing on an important topic is scheduled before the Bellingham Planning Commission on Thursday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. in city council chambers. The hearing pertains to the new city comprehensive plan chapter for economic development, which can be reviewed at http://www.cob.org/documents/planning/boards-commissions/planning-commission/2-14-13/attachment-1.pdf.
The new economic policy chapter reflects the suggestions of the business community, so it is important that the voices of other stakeholders be heard. If you are reading this after the hearing, do not worry. There will be another public hearing before the city council. You can submit comments to the city and planning commission at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
I have highlighted some of the issues I found concerning:
The draft chapter identifies wetlands and critical areas as a threat to jobs by preventing expansion of development. A healthy environment is a prerequisite to economic sustainability and this should be reflected in COB economic development policy. Wetlands and critical areas have important value in our community because they protect environmental and human health, quality of life and economic vitality. The city should support the regulatory requirement to protect critical areas, and focus instead on the real reasons behind a weak economy and a high level of income disparity.
There are two new policies that are specifically troubling. Policy ED-20 recommends mitigation for any actions by city council that reduce “lost employment land capacity.” Mitigation replaces the ecological function and value of critical areas. It is not applicable to jobs and employment. And “employment land" is a concept fabricated by the city that has no reference or meaning under the GMA. The city should not use terms that are meaningless and confusing. Instead, we have urban land and UGAs zoned for commercial, industrial and mixed use. This is, therefore, an attempt to mitigate a zoning designation. Zoning is based on public needs, and it changes as public needs change. Because zoning is not permanent and fixed, it can not be “mitigated” when it is amended.
Policy ED-26 requires investigating a regional approach to stormwater and wetland mitigation to “reduce costs for individual businesses.” Creating off-site compensatory mitigation projects require time, money, a great deal of analysis and planning, and amendment of the city's Critical Area Ordinance. And even then, they often fail because they attempt to recreate ecological function, rather than preserve what already exists. Moreover, the purpose of mitigation is to avoid and replace impacts to ecologic function, rather than to reduce business costs. Under city code, “mitigation site selection shall be focused on the site’s ability to sustain a Critical Area over the long term.” BMC 16.55.240.
Role of City Government
I believe an important policy change is quietly being made. The new ED draft expands the city’s role in economic development so that a primary duty becomes the promotion of business interests. See Section II, the City’s Role in Economic Development, and policies ED-1, 2, 3, 4,7,8,10. The new policies encourage the city to partner with business associations, and other agencies in Whatcom County, to enhance economic opportunity, reduce regulatory restrictions, and increase business incentive. Quality of life is defined in terms of a variety of job opportunities, an expanding tax base, incentives for business, and more and more growth.
I do not believe this reflects public values, as reflected in the 2009 Legacies and Strategic Commitment. The private sector should be primarily responsible for creating economic opportunity in Whatcom County. The responsibility of local government is to assure that economic development activities are carried out in a manner that is consistent with defined community and environmental values. The government should focus on reducing use and dependency on fossil fuels and other natural resources that are finite and environmentally harmful. And it should not blindly accept the fact that more and more growth is always good.
The GMA goal for economic development focuses on economic opportunity for all citizens of the state, especially the unemployed and disadvantaged. RCW 36.70A.020(5). There is no policy goal that reflects this, even though the city residents recently passed a low-income housing levy. The 2009 Legacies and Strategic Commitment contained a commitment for equity and social justice. Let’s see that reflected in our new economic development policy chapter.
I recommend you review this draft document to determine if there are other policies you consider important. For example, if you have concerns about airport expansion, a new policy reflects city support for this port project. Because this is an amendment to the city comprehensive plan, it forms important policy that guides development regulations.
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 12:59 pm // Terry WechslerA closer look at Whatcom County's industrial "stewards of the environment."
2 comments; last on Apr 22, 2014
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 10:43 am // Wendy HarrisThe public needs to support city council and request that a waterfront habitat assessment include terrestrial species and habitat connectivity.
Sat, Apr 19, 2014, 1:57 pm // Terry Wechsleror How Not to Plan for Future Generations' Water Needs
10 comments; last on Apr 21, 2014
Thu, Apr 17, 2014, 9:40 am // Riley SweeneyA simple explanation of the Charter Review and analysis of District only voting
Wed, Apr 09, 2014, 8:07 am // Riley SweeneyCity pushes for Alabama Street improvements, residents speak out
3 comments; last on Apr 14, 2014
Sun, Apr 06, 2014, 3:29 pm // Guest writerBy Christopher Grannis: Wherein despite every effort and expense, citizens cannot make the City follow the law or work for neighborhoods
2 comments; last on Apr 07, 2014
Sun, Apr 06, 2014, 11:52 am // Terry WechslerWhy commenting on the EIS in Comp Plan revisions for Cherry Point means demanding an EIS in the first place.
4 comments; last on Apr 13, 2014
Wed, Apr 02, 2014, 5:00 am // Dick ConoboyAmbling University Development Group pulls out. University Ridge will not be built.
12 comments; last on Apr 06, 2014
Tue, Apr 01, 2014, 12:27 pm // Wendy HarrisPlease help us protect county wildlife by ensuring that the scope of the EIS review is adequate. A sample scoping letter is included.
Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 1:23 am // Wendy HarrisThe public has a week to comment on the scope of issues reviewed under the EIS.
Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 12:32 am // Wendy HarrisOn March 26, 2014 the city and county provided their update and assessment on the status of Lake Whatcom. This is mine.
2 comments; last on Apr 01, 2014
Wed, Mar 19, 2014, 9:32 am // Riley SweeneyRiley digs into the county's plan to buy the county morgue
3 comments; last on Mar 24, 2014
Sun, Mar 16, 2014, 11:52 pm // Wendy HarrisThe public is not provided with a proposed plan or adequate information prior to the annual "state of the lake" meeting
4 comments; last on Mar 18, 2014
Sat, Mar 15, 2014, 12:11 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein there's a crackdown on growing plants, and plans to let slaughter run free
2 comments; last on Mar 16, 2014
Fri, Mar 14, 2014, 9:47 am // John ServaisFukushima radiation has been found 20 miles from Whatcom County farmland along the Fraser River in British Columbia.
1 comments; last on Mar 17, 2014
Wed, Mar 12, 2014, 7:28 am // Dick ConoboyThe infamous American Legislative Exchange Council plans to send its spawn to cities and counties throughout the U.S.
1 comments; last on Mar 24, 2014
Tue, Mar 11, 2014, 10:24 am // Riley SweeneyRiley catches State Rep. Vincent Buys for soliciting funds during session
Mon, Mar 10, 2014, 9:51 am // Riley SweeneyRiley digs into an unusual hiring decision at the County Planning Dept
1 comments; last on Mar 10, 2014
Sun, Mar 02, 2014, 2:22 pm // John ServaisThe editor of the Whatcom Watch, Richard Jehn, has resigned effective today. Chalk up a victory for Craig Cole and Pacific International Terminals.
8 comments; last on Mar 05, 2014
Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 8:29 pm // John ServaisThe full text of Craig Cole's threatening letter of libel against the Whatcom Watch. And the emptiness of the threat.
16 comments; last on Mar 20, 2014
Mon, Feb 24, 2014, 3:33 pm // Wendy HarrisWe were led to believe the city would review waterfront wildlife and habitat connectivity. It turns out that the city intends to focus only on nearshore fish.
Sat, Feb 22, 2014, 12:16 am // Wendy HarrisAccepting the Paul deArmond award of citizen journalism on Feb 7, Wendh Harris gave this speech. We think it deserves its own post.
Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 4:48 pm // John ServaisCraig Cole, the local contact for the proposed Cherry Point coal port has threatened the Whatcom Watch with a libel lawsuit.
6 comments; last on Mar 20, 2014
Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 7:26 am // Riley SweeneyRiley digs through court data and discovers the real impact of privatization and legalization
Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 9:35 pm // Wendy HarrisThe mayor wants to amend a city law to increase flexibility for a GMA provision that should be used rarely, if ever at all.
3 comments; last on Feb 11, 2014
Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 2:36 pm // Wendy HarrisCostco imposes indirect costs on our community that are as real and tangible as road construction expenses.
1 comments; last on Feb 13, 2014
Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 9:13 am // John ServaisThe old empty Reid Boiler Works industrial building in Fairhaven burned to the ground Saturday night.
Mon, Feb 03, 2014, 5:30 am // Dick ConoboyProfessional and even college sports have morphed into a circus of corporate greed and the fleecing of the public.
3 comments; last on Mar 01, 2014
Sat, Feb 01, 2014, 12:35 am // Wendy HarrisFiling a public record request could land a citizen in jail under a proposal reflected in a Herald opinion article.
2 comments; last on Feb 03, 2014
Wed, Jan 29, 2014, 6:18 am // Guest writerTim Johnson writes about the first recipient of the Paul deArmond Citizen Journalism award, Whatcom County writer Wendy Harris.
3 comments; last on Feb 08, 2014
Mon, Jan 20, 2014, 5:14 am // Dick ConoboyThe developers of University Ridge have been silent since shortly after the hearing examiner's decision on 23 October last year. Will they walk?
Sun, Jan 19, 2014, 8:39 pm // John ServaisSuper Bowl ... Weed Bowl ... This bud's for you ... Bong Bowl ... Marijuana Bowl ... whatever. It is on!
1 comments; last on Jan 20, 2014
Tue, Jan 14, 2014, 2:19 pm // Guest writerDo we actually need to say that we, as citizens, want accurate information from government officials?
1 comments; last on Jan 14, 2014
Fri, Dec 27, 2013, 4:00 am // Guest writerGuest 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
Fri, Dec 20, 2013, 3:56 pm // Wendy HarrisA Port of Bellingham internal memo tries, but fails, to justify changes in cost estimates for alternative marina sites.
5 comments; last on Dec 22, 2013
Tue, Dec 17, 2013, 12:21 am // Wendy HarrisArmy Corps advised DOE that it will not issue a waterfront permit without Lummi approval
2 comments; last on Jan 13, 2014
Mon, Dec 16, 2013, 12:30 pm // John ServaisFerndale Mayor Gary Jensen has decided not to file for the 42nd state Senate seat currently held by Doug Ericksen.
5 comments; last on Dec 24, 2013
Mon, Dec 09, 2013, 12:24 pm // Guest writerBarbara 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
Sat, Dec 07, 2013, 8:23 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein the direct, indirect, hidden and lost opportunity costs make this a waterfront boondoggle of billions
3 comments; last on Dec 11, 2013
Sat, Dec 07, 2013, 12:33 pm // Wendy HarrisLocal 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
Fri, Dec 06, 2013, 11:03 pm // Wendy HarrisThe county will be required to consider water quality and water quantity when planning rural growth.
3 comments; last on Dec 10, 2013
Thu, Dec 05, 2013, 11:58 am // John ServaisThe 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
Thu, Dec 05, 2013, 5:00 am // Dick ConoboyThe 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
Wed, Dec 04, 2013, 10:53 am // John ServaisBellingham 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
Sat, Nov 30, 2013, 8:11 pm // Wendy HarrisThe waterfront plan allows a development bonus for payments made to the Lake Whatcom land acquisition fund
1 comments; last on Dec 01, 2013
Fri, Nov 29, 2013, 9:43 pm // Wendy HarrisA number of important issues need to be resolved before waterfront planning is complete, but the city council and port commission are ready to act.
2 comments; last on Nov 30, 2013
Fri, Nov 22, 2013, 9:01 pm // Wendy HarrisIf the port can not construct the airport safely, should it be entrusted with dangerous waterfront cleanup work?
Wed, Nov 20, 2013, 5:03 am // Dick ConoboyThe advice coming from Walmart and McDonald's to its low paid employees becomes more and more bizarre and inane.
Tue, Nov 19, 2013, 5:35 am // Dick ConoboyAmbling's motion to the hearing examiner for reconsideration was definitively rejected. The developer has not met the deadline for an appeal to the Superior Court
Mon, Nov 18, 2013, 2:18 pm // Guest writerIn which we find the hidden core of the waterfront plan is rotten through and through
7 comments; last on Nov 21, 2013
Mon, Nov 18, 2013, 10:59 am // Riley SweeneyThe county takes two big steps forward on the new jail, while still missing the point
Thu, Nov 14, 2013, 1:39 am // Tip JohnsonDear Mr. President, There's a sucker born every minute, and two to take him.
7 comments; last on Nov 21, 2013
Wed, Nov 13, 2013, 3:16 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city adminstration has been providing misleading/ incorrect information to the city council to avoid waterfront plan revisions.
1 comments; last on Nov 18, 2013
Tue, Nov 12, 2013, 10:21 am // Riley SweeneyRiley crunches the numbers on Renata and McAuley's races to find answers
2 comments; last on Nov 13, 2013
Tue, Nov 12, 2013, 5:16 am // Dick ConoboyPuget Neighborhood will likely have in the immediate future 1,300 new rental units that will be marketed primarily to the student population.
Sat, Nov 09, 2013, 9:47 pm // Wendy HarrisThe COB administration continues in its refusal to analyze waterfront wildlife issues, even though this is a prerequisite step in protecting wildlife from the impacts of development
3 comments; last on Nov 10, 2013
Tue, Nov 05, 2013, 8:21 pm // John ServaisWith 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
Mon, Nov 04, 2013, 9:55 am // Dick ConoboyThe call of the dollar speaks more loudly to health insurance companies than does the voice and well-being of the consumer, even here in Washington.
8 comments; last on Nov 06, 2013
Thu, Oct 31, 2013, 10:19 am // Dick ConoboyFour bedroom dorm rooms have been nixed by the hearing examiner. University Ridge may be in trouble as a cash cow for Ambling Development of Georgia
3 comments; last on Nov 04, 2013
Mon, Oct 28, 2013, 10:19 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein we discover why we exert our rights - and grab some more petitions before it's too late
3 comments; last on Nov 06, 2013
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