Damon Gray

Bellingham City Council Ward 4

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?

Certainly they should have an equal seat. Business owners and managers are a vital element of the community, and their input is crucial for making informed decisions.

 

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

Not as it is currently proposed. I take no position on redevelopment per se, because such discussions are premature. Resolution on the cleanup issue must come first. The Port/City plan fails to adequately address even the assessment of the scope of the required cleanup to limit future tort liability, meet environmental standards and provide a clean healthy bay for future generations.

 

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. Sound land use planning requires effective inter-jurisdictional coordination and cooperation. Preserving farmland, urban infill and transfer of development rights between jurisdictions are examples of areas where a lack of such cooperation and coordination will thwart effective land use planning. The county-wide planning policies of the GMA require such coordination, and rather than treat it as a “one shot deal,” we should explore and implement regular city/county joint planning efforts.

 

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

I’m in favor of looking at this on a case-by-case basis, rather than implementing a blanket height restriction.

 

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

The primary problem with the SMP is the waterfront element, and how the SMP doesn’t adequately address the cleanup issue. See my answer to Question #2.

 

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?

While I’m not a demographics expert, my supposition is that those in this demographic are not finding competitive salaries in our community. The city should investigate this, and take measures to improve the business climate such that businesses can see enough of a return on investment and subsequently pay competitive wages, and hopefully reverse this trend.

 

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?

Infill can, and should be accomplished in a way that preserves the integrity and family-friendly nature of existing neighborhoods. We should follow the city’s comprehensive plan, suitably modified where necessary, to accomplish this goal.

 

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

I’m a lay person, so my personal opinion on this matter is not particularly relevant. The state Department of Ecology, under authority delegated by the federal Clean Water Act will tell us what the cause is, and further, what we are to do about it. What we need to be doing is ramping up to chart out solutions using an even-handed, open-minded approach that considers such criteria as technical feasibility, cost-effectiveness, and avoidance of unintended consequences. In the meantime, we need to make determinations of how best to equitably distribute the cost burden of those solutions.

 

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?

I believe in the principle of “buy local.” I also believe in maximizing consumer choices rather than limiting them. Where there might be conflicts between these two principles, the council’s challenge is to strike the proper balance between them. The council’s recent decision to limit the size of retail stores was, according to one of its own, ill-conceived, inadequately researched, and not “debugged” in advance for unintended consequences. As a member of the City Council, I will not support any policy on any matter before the council that is lacking adequate preparation.

 

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

I will addend Chamber of Commerce meetings when my schedule allows it, as well as other business-oriented functions. I will welcome participation by business owners and managers in council processes, and support ensuring that business leaders are included in existing and new city-organized stakeholder groups.

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