Bill Geyer

Bellingham City Council Ward 5

 

1. Do you believe the business community should have an equal seat at the table with other interest groups (neighborhoods, environmental community, etc) in discussing the future growth of Bellingham? Why or why not?

YES. Business serves 100% of our population and employs more than 3/4 of our local workers. Businesses and their employees are vital sources of motivation, expertise and information that should be a part of our discussion on future growth.

 

2. Are you supportive of the current Port/City partnership and their vision for redeveloping the New Whatcom Site? Please explain.

YES. Redevelopment of the central waterfront (New Whatcom) is a centerpiece to Bellingham’s future. If properly managed, Port/City cooperation will increase private investor interest in the site. However, the present environmental review is lacking and the proposed $200 million City taxpayer investment does not generate sufficient revenue to cover the costs. Hazardous soils must be cleaned up and then private redevelopment will follow. My 30 year career in public planning and private development can help provide the skills and experience needed on the Bellingham City Council on this issue. Redeveloping New Whatcom is important, but we need to protect funding for basic City services like our fire, police, parks and other basic services.

 

3. When it comes to land use planning, should Bellingham work more closely with Whatcom County and other municipalities in the County? If so, how?

YES. As a professional planner for 30 years and as Bellingham’s former Director of Planning and Development (1985-91), I know first hand the need for coordinated planning between the City, Whatcom County, Port and adjoining water/sewer districts. The State Growth Management Act mandates consistency and coordination in land use planning.

In my 16 years of private practice, I have witnessed too many property owners mismanaged by the conflicting regulatory gauntlet of City and County regulations. Typically projects are delayed, housing costs increase, and environmental resources are squandered due to the lack of government coordination. Bellingham and Whatcom County should mutually adopt an urban growth boundary and zoning, and designate Bellingham City staff to review development within Bellingham’s urban growth boundary. This will free up County staff to focus on rural and regional planning issues.

 

4.Do you support efforts to limit the height of future development in the Fairhaven Business District to two stories? Why or why not?

No. Fairhaven’s historic multi-story buildings provide a good mix of business space on the first floor and residences above. Adopting design guidelines based on Fairhaven’s historic building features will preserve it as an Urban Village and provide protection for neighboring residential areas.

 

5. Do you support the Shoreline Master Plan currently being proposed by City Staff? Please explain.

Within the 275 page Plan, some Staff recommendations are acceptable, some are not. I support guidelines for protecting fresh water streams and natural salt water shorelines within the City. I support reduced shoreline setbacks in the New Whatcom central waterfront for public access with a mix of businesses, institutions, boat moorage, parks and residences. Additional work is needed on policies for maintenance, repair and reconstruction of existing buildings along our shorelines.

 

6. What, in your opinion, is the primary cause of the decrease in the actual number of Whatcom County residents between the ages of 30 to 39 (primary working age) since 1996?

Better career opportunities and higher wages draw workers to other areas, and unfriendly public policies discourage business which results in lower wages. The primary working age group is mobile so they relocate elsewhere.

 

7. Are you supportive of efforts to promote infill development in the City of Bellingham? If so, what measures would you propose to accomplish this?

YES. Revise the development codes to allow townhouses, clustered residential villages, co-housing and other affordable housing types that will increase opportunities for home ownership.

 

8. What do you believe is the primary pollution issue in Lake Whatcom, and how do you propose to address it?

Stormwater runoff from existing homes and roads is the primary pollution issue. Past efforts have failed and there is no commitment to achieve the results demanded by the public. Runoff should be collected and treated with proven technologies before it drains into Lake Whatcom. Cost-effective filters that remove pollutants are available in the market. Existing revenue from water user fees, real estate excise taxes and city stormwater fees can pay for this type of system. It is time for results.

 

9. Should all businesses in Bellingham be treated equally by the City, regardless of whether or not they are locally owned? Why or why not?

YES. Equal treatment under the rule of law is a hallmark of our Constitution. The City of Bellingham should provide equal service to all businesses, regardless of the owner’s geographic origin.

 

10. If elected, what do you propose to do to interact on a regular basis with the Bellingham business community?

If elected as the 5th Ward City Councilor, I will establish a website for business comment on city services, convene regular meetings of business owners to discuss local legislation, and solicit a business review of Bellingham City services. City government should establish positive relationships and effective communication with the business community.

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