Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My First Blog Posting: GMA & Comprehensive Plan Update

"Responsibility does not only lie with the leaders of our countries or with those who have been appointed or elected to do a particular job. It lies with each of us individually. What is important is that we each make a sincere effort to take seriously our responsibility for each other and for the natural environment."

~ From His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

I have always taken inspiration from this quote from a man whose religion is lovingkindness.

So, now with the start-up of my first blog, it seems appropriate to set the tone for this space.

In anticipation of retirement from elected public office, I am beginning a new career - that of a concerned citizen with knowledge to be shared as widely and respectfully as I can reasonably do it. Never again will I be able to sit back and just let local politics just happen in our town! That would be irresponsible, particularly in the midst of a chaotic election in which truth has already suffered enough neglect! How I wish that more folks would learn from Mark Twain, 'to always tell the truth, that way you can remember what you said'!

With the complex and controversial issues facing Bellingham and Whatcom County, there will be no shortage of subject matter! After nearly nine years as a member of the Bellingham City Council, I do have much to share, including insights into current happenings and some older issues that are now seeing their next iteration.

I want to be fair and accurate to the best of my knowledge, but some things I have to say may not be comfortable to read or hear for some people. Controversy does come with the territory with local government, and our system does depend upon an informed electorate.
The opinions I will offer will be informed ones, based on facts and my personal observations and logical deductions. They will not please everyone! If a reader believes I am mistaken, that's OK. But it's my Blog!

I hope people find the regular postings here of sufficient interest for further discussion in our community. All content is my sole responsibility, and the views expressed my own. Enough preliminaries.

Now, where to begin?

How about Growth Management?
Specifically, will the County approve a reasonable new City UGA land supply to facilitate compact urban growth, or will they opt for business as usual? Based on the current buzz, I'm betting the County Council will follow a predetermined path to a foregone conclusion and severely cut back on the City's proposal, instead, imposing a 'punishment' on the City for its 'sins of the past'. Some members will likely pander, posture and equivocate, but in the end they will simply ignore the years of careful, 'bottom's up' analysis the City made and make that effort a colossal waste of time.

I hope I'm wrong on this, but we will know in the morning.

If the answer is as anticipated, the City can do any or all of the following:
1. re-examine its good faith commitment to the County of trying to accept over 50% of the Countywide growth until 2022.
2. complain and maybe appeal to the Growth Management Hearings Board.
3. sit back and count its blessings that the County did something the City wouldn't do for itself.

The combination of 1 & 3 sounds like the easiest course to follow, doesn't it?

Would the County feel good about pulling rank on the City? Probably, because it wouldn't have to change a thing, except throw GMA intent out the window and continue to collect the revenues. Why should the County worry, it wouldn't need to share its revenues with the City, deal with City codes and standards as much, hire enough competent and experienced planners to do the job necessary for a true 'collaboration' [there's that word again] with the City. After all, the County ALREADY HAS enough vested 5-acre lots to accommodate ALL the projected countywide growth until 2022, without a single new home being built in any city! How'd you like them apples? Also, some County Council members -one even lives in town- actually delight in 'sticking it to the City'.

Does it sound like the pot might be calling the kettle black? You bet it does! Added bonus, the County can brag about not having to raise property taxes for the 12th -or 13th. I forget- straight year, because enough sprawl will occur to fill the County coffers, and maybe even provide a surplus! Follow the money, then use it for good purposes.

More later, after the County Council actions are known.