Don Gischer

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?

Yes, I believe their interests should be represented along with other focus groups. A good way to do that is to participate in neighborhood meetings. Every business in Bellingham is part of a neighborhood. Consensus on what Bellingham can be will be much easier to achieve if both residents and business will sit at the same table to insure that each understands the concerns and interests of the other.


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

I support that partnership and vision. However, I disagree with the plan to implement that vision. The division of duties and responsibilities between the Port and the City is not equitable. The financial burden is heavier on the City with limited means to pay for the costs. I look forward to discussing the development contract where this inequality will hopefully be corrected.


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?

Whatcom County should be the coordinator of land use planning in the County, not Bellingham. Since the County Council is the final decider in Urban Growth boundaries, there is little to be gained by Bellingham meeting with the other municipalities. What does need to happen is for the joint Councils to meet, not just the staffs. Too much information is second hand in nature….direct discussion is best.


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, two stories is too restrictive for the District. A mix of heights and bulk will make the district attractive to both businesses, residents, and shoppers alike.


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

Yes. The staff plan’s setback requirement allow for more flexibility in siting buildings than the Planning Commission recommendation.


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?

I believe that many youths stay in the area after high school trying to decide what to do. After a few years they move out of the area. While there are plentiful jobs here now, other areas in the state and nationally pay significantly more. We need to increase the wage base here to keep younger workers from leaving. Employers need to do a better job of networking among themselves and the job market to retain these youths.


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, I support infill. Increased emphasis and zoning for mixed uses, higher densities in the residential area of the waterfront redevelopment, and minimum, rather than maximum densities in our neighborhoods will help facilitate this.


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

The primary pollution issue is how to prevent further degradation of the water quality. The ways to reduce it is to limit the runoff going into the lake from streets and other impervious surfaces; eliminating the use of phosphorus bearing fertilizers and other outdoor additives and pesticides; reducing animal feces contamination; more public education; more onsite stormwater retention, and control of development in the watershed.


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 all businesses should be treated equally. Taxpayers pay the bill for City services and purchases. State law is very restrictive regarding bid items. Treating business equally is not the same as purchasing smaller items or goods when State or City regulations allow it.


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

I will continue to support City representation at Chamber meetings and events, the Bellingham Whatcom Economic Development Council, and other economic development organizations. I will also encourage periodic updates to the recent Economic Development presentation made to the City Council.

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