Thursday, November 29, 2007

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.

"If we are to solve the problems that plague us, our thinking must evolve beyond the level we were using when we created those problems in the first place."--Albert Einstein

'Always tell the truth. That way you can remember what you said.'
- Mark Twain

Dijon vu - the same mustard as before. 

'To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.'
-- Abraham Lincoln

I am reprinting today's BELLINGHAM HERALD 'OUR VIEW', which pontificates the following:

"City should bow to county on growth-area boundaries

It is ridiculous that Bellingham City Council and Whatcom County Council couldn’t negotiate an agreement to solve their impasse over the size of the city’s future growth areas.

Bellingham’s comprehensive plan calls for adding 2,128 acres to the city’s urban growth area, an area outside the current city limits that would eventually be annexed into town and receive city services. The County Council is responsible for the countywide growth plans and believes Bellingham’s planned expansion is much too big. The county suggested that only 250 acres near King and Queen mountains are needed in Bellingham’s growth area.

After the county made its suggestion, the two groups talked of working together for a compromise both sides could support. The thought was that it would be better if the councils spoke with a single voice, especially with the possibility that someone might appeal the plans saying they were not completed correctly.

The County Council invited the City Council to a joint meeting to discuss the possibilities, but City Council members refused. Some of them were reportedly upset that the County Council told its staff not to negotiate during meetings with city staff and to leave the negotiating only to council members.

We’re not sure why the two councils ended up not being able to get along. But we’re certain they should be able to do so. It requires maturity and a desire to put the needs of the community ahead of your own emotions. Those are both traits we would like to think all of our elected officials possess.

It should come as no surprise to regular readers of our editorials that we support the county’s plans to limit Bellingham expansion. The city has proposed more sprawl than is necessary to deal with potential population growth.

Sprawl outside the current city limits should be resisted wherever possible. City Council members should recognize this and support the county’s plan."

As you might expect there were several comments posted in response to this editorial.
These are not reprinted here, but the one I submitted is shown below

" It is not at all surprising that the Herald has issued an opinion on this subject.

What is surprising is the apparent lack of understanding of what has happened and what will happen.

There is no question about the County's right to make the final determination, because that is set by law.

What is in question is whether the County has any hard information that indicates the City has the ability to accept all the growth it offered to accept, without sufficient new UGA land supply.

Here, the key thing to remember is the growth projections are mandated by the State, with the County responsible for adopting a final number and apportioning it among the various municipalities, including its own unincorporated areas.

All that has been done by the City is to spend almost 4 years trying to determine where its alloted growth can and will occur. This exercise involved an Environmental Impact Study from which it was found that a combination of infill AND new UGA land supply would be required to achieve this goal.

Further, based upon history and best ideas, the City determined it needed about 1400 additional acres from the 2200 acres currently included in the County-approved '5-year Review Areas'.

I believe this determination was done as fairly and accurately as possible, because I sat through the entire proceeding. No one did from the Herald or the County! And neither of those organizations has undertaken the effort required to really understand how the City's estimate of land supply shortfall was determined.

It's OK to wish for something, and we all do it sometimes. But, to challenge careful work with nothing more than wishful thinking is the epitomy of hypocrisy!

No Joint Council meeting is able to simply negotiate away these results! Instead, the County needs to make its own determination, using the City's input - which has already been given in writing. There are distinct choices the County alone must make. If those choices are undertaken in good faith of the City's efforts, there should be no substantial problem.
If there are wide differences, the City must examine its commitment to a goal that cannot be reasonably reached. That's it!

No municipality should be required to accept something it just cannot do, whether it is growth related or otherwise. Failing a reasonable decision by the County to either (a) upzone its UGA to higher a MINIMUM density, (b) allow the City to use it's planning rules & regulations in the UGA, or (c) grant more UGA lands to the City -from the 5-year Review Areas, the City's only remaining choice will be to adjust the amount of growth it agrees to take to more closely fit the reality of land supply.

That is how I see it and I believe how the situation may be mitigated. Tampering with safety factors is better done by removing the layers of uncertainty that are curently inherent in the GMA land supply planning process.

Please notice I am using my own name here, not initials or pseudonyms. And, I have been consistent in these views ever since I understood the dynamics at work. Political dynamics are everyone's individual choice; I prefer to determine the facts first so that my political opinion has something solid under it as a foundation.

I hope this is adequate to explain a complicated issue in a few short paragraphs. Sound bytes don't do the job!

BTW, if the City is unable to accommodate the 51.4% of County growth its projections are based upon, where do you imagine it will go?
If you guessed rural sprawl, you'd be correct!"

John Watts | 11.29.07 - 11:29 am | #

No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism.- Winston Churchill 

They are decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent. - Winston Churchill