Seth Fleetwood

Bellingham Mayor

 

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. Creating an exciting, vibrant, livable City, of the sort so many envision, requires money and good paying jobs. It all starts with a healthy economy and involvement from our business community. Bellingham must commit itself to growing well, in a way that actually increases our livability rather then detracting from it. As we plan for the future growth of Bellingham business people must be at the planning table so we dont lose sight of one of the key drivers to that success.

 

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

Yes. I don’t believe redevelopment of the New Whatcom site can happen without the partnership. The effort must be shared. The Port in paying for expensive cleanup and the City in building expensive infastructure. Both are necessary. Neither can afford to do it all. I am committed to taking all reasonable steps toward implementing the exciting vision established by the waterfront futures group visioning process.

 

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. All the jurisdictions with land use authority should work together to achieve the common vision expressed in our Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan. That vision calls for vibrant, well planned Cities existing amongst a County that maintains a sense of rural character, including forestry and farms. Bellingham and Whatcom County still have opportunities that were lost to sister counties to our south where unplanned sprawl has caused cities to literally grow into each other, at the expense of rural character. We can still have it all here if we simply plan and execute well. I would promote a regular meeting, or roundtable, where planners from all our jurisdictions come together and coalesce their respective plans around a common, regional vision for how and where we grow. In so doing we can protect the amenities and character that we enjoy.

 

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 is one of the logical places to accommodate future growth. A two story limit seems inappropriately low. We can go higher and still maintain the character and scale that so many fairhavenites are concerned with maintaining. I grew up in Fairhaven and have maintained an office above Tony’s Coffee Shop for years. I have witnessed the transformation from funky, quiet and alternative to groovy, popular and hip (probably not the most mayoral way to put it). As much as I miss the old days I accept the reality of where we are today. If we are to accommodate growth as required by state law, in places like Fairhaven, then let us make sure we do it well. Holding developers to the highest standards in design and minimizing the impact of cars is a good place to start.

 

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

Yes. Of course particulars are yet to be approved by Council. But in the main it seems a good plan, both flexible and restrictive where appropriate. It followed a thorough public process that included hearings and work sessions involving a variety of different interest groups. The Shoreline Master Plan implements the recently adopted Critical Area Ordiance standards that are already in place. It is written broadly enough to accomodate development of the New Whatcom waterfront’s vision of mixed uses, shoreline and habitat restoration and public access. It ensures restoration of the near shore habitat on Lake Whatcom by requiring the removal of bulkheads, over time, and restoring them with reinstalled bio engineered methods that protect habitat. It does good things that, I believe, the majority of people in our community value.

 

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?

A lack of good jobs that pay well and match the skill set of local residents in that demographic.

 

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. Infill, if well done, can be a means of both improving the quality of Bellingham and relieving pressure on regular expansion of our growth boundaries, to the detriment of rural character. The issue, of course, is how is it done. In 2004 I co-founded the Bellingham Growth Forums. The object was to establish thoughtful methods to infill in ways that actually enhanced the quality of life in Bellingham while relieving pressure to expand growth boundaries into the countryside. The process won an American Planning Association award and resulted in policies to establish neighborhood villages that were blessed by the Bellingham Planning Commission and the City Council. The idea is that a well planned neighborhood village with mixed use, increased density potential, design requirements and alternative transportation hubs solves many problesm posed by the conventional, bankrupt, model of low density sprawl, zoning use separation and car choked traffic. If well implemented it also sites them at a chosen and accepted location and preserves the integrity of the vast majority of our established, unique neighborhoods. Neighborhoods have done much to plan well and to accomodate their share of future growth while seeking to protect treasured character. I would further empower them to participate in identifying where these villages should be sited. Inter-neighborhood compacts might be entered where such locations could be shared if logic and good planning deemed it advisable.

 

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

Stormwater runoff from the urban, built environment. It certainly doesn’t come from the pristine forests. All jurisdictions need to commit themselves to implementing a full protection program for Lake Whatcom that adopts all measures, big and small, that are within our reasonable control. We need to continue acquiring land in the watershed to reduce development potential and increase mechanisms to capture pollutants in the built environment. As a member of the Whatcom County Council, from Bellingham, I have sponsored and supported many measures to protect Lake Whatcom. Most recently I sponosored a resolution creating a comprehensive stormwater management plan to identify public and private sources of runoff with the idea of ranking the projects that are of highest priority for retrofitting and improvements. The plan calls for a process to identify the most fair and equitable way of establishing funding to pay for it. Despite these efforts the watershed continues to show signs of degradation. We have not done enough. As Mayor of Bellingham I would redouble efforts to protect this most valuable resource.

 

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, they should be treated the same. I don’t think City government wants to get in the business of discriminating against people and their businesses based on their origins. Having said that I do appreciate the benefits that come from businesses that are locally owned and in that regard I hope their numbers continue to proliferate and that we facilitate their expansion. I am a fan of Sustainable Connections. But we should also recognize that many examples can be shown where we benefit from business that happen to be headquartered in another location.

 

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

I would provide unencumbered and respectful access to the Bellingham business community. I would make myself available to them, and their good ideas, and have an open door policy.

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