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, I agree that the business community should have an equal place at the table with other interest groups. The continuing development of a diverse sustainable economy in Bellingham and Whatcom County is essential. For our economy to continue to grow, business leaders have to be involved in providing input when shaping City policies. We need to listen to all interests in order to develop well-balanced policies.
2. Are you supportive of the current Port/City partnership and their vision for redeveloping the New Whatcom Site? Please explain.
I am supportive of the partnership, but there are a number of elements in the early agreements that will need to be reworked before any final development plans are finalized. The early assumption that the city could pick up the cost for putting in the infrastructure and parklands must be altered now that more realistic cost estimates are coming forward. It must be noted that no final agreements have been reached between the City and Port. These will only come after the financial studies and the EIS has been completed and then negotiations will take place regarding a final development plan and a final agreement on how it will be paid for, I do agree with the plan for a marina. It will generate income and jobs. I also agree with the plan and vision of WWU being part of the project. I am excited by the possibility of job creation through the partnership between WWU and private enterprise through the creation of a new Consortium for Technological Innovation and Development center. The CTID could provide offices for new business to operate in while they seek scientific or technological product development help from students and facility. It is this type of innovation that excites me about the possibilities of the partnership we have created with the Port.
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?
It is very important that Bellingham attempt to work closely with Whatcom County and to a lesser degree other municipalities in land use planning. It is becoming increasing clear that we need to be looking at regional planning and not just planning for our own municipality. In order to properly plan for future growth we need to develop regional transportation plans so that city and county plans mesh seamlessly. We need to work closely with the County especially in zoning and land use requirements in the urban growth areas so that county and city standards are coordinated. Through the coordination of standards we can save time and money and make the transition of UGA to the City much easier.
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 I do not support limiting height to two stories in the Fairhaven Business district. In our comprehensive plan we supported the concept of urban villages and the use of such villages for infill. This is an established urban village and we need to look at ways that infill can be enhanced but also retain the historic character and charm of Fairhaven. I do support height limits for the area. Establishing height limits will provide greater certainty to business property owners and residential property owners. I would support a historical analysis of the Fairhaven Business District in an effort to establish heights limits that will allow an efficient use of the available land while still staying within the historical concept of the Village area.
5. Do you support the Shoreline Master Plan currently being proposed by City Staff? Please explain.
I have read the Shoreline Master Plan as proposed by staff and modified by the planning commission. We have not had our public hearing on the plan yet. I make it a habit of not formally commenting on items that still need to go through a public hearing. Many times problems are identified and different ideas generated through the hearing process. If we prejudge a plan before hand we shut ourselves off the idea of different possibilities. I will reserve judgment until the close of the public hearing.
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 am not familiar with these statistics so I can only formulate a guess as to the reason. Whatcom County is not the easiest area to get started in a career. We are one of the most desirable places to life in the United States. The market place for most professional jobs is very competitive. We have a lot of very well educated and qualified individuals taking jobs beneath their qualification level in order to stay in Whatcom County. People who have good job stay in those jobs. We do not have great turn over in a lot of the professional areas. I would assume that we lose a number of younger individuals because of their need to establish themselves in the career of their choice. They leave in an effort to find a better fit for their education and to job skill level. It is always easier coming back after you are established.
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 am supportive of the efforts to infill. I have supported a number of efforts to accomplish greater infill. I supported the multi-family tax exemption for the central business district that created an incentive program to build housing in the CBD. I supported the effort to move forward a rezone for a project on Squalicum Parkway that would have allowed multi use designation and help create needed infill housing. I have supported rezones that have supported smaller lot sizes within a neighborhood designation so that greater infill could be accomplished. We need to make zoning changes that will allow urban villages to be created in key areas around the city. These changes may include great heights, changes in parking requirement, changes to multi-use designation with more housing above commercial. For these changes to be effective we have to include the neighborhoods and the business community together so that there is buy-in from both groups.
8. What do you believe is the primary pollution issue in Lake Whatcom, and how do you propose to address it?
From all of the data and studies I have read on the water quality of Lake Whatcom, I have to conclude that the single biggest cause of deteriorating water quality in the lake is development, or the factors related to development such as chemicals in run-off from impervious surfaces, soil disturbance releasing phosphorous into the waters, and chemical used on developed lands. I believe the most effective way of dealing with the problem is to continue to buy up development rights in the watershed and taking them out of development. We also need to step efforts to retrofit areas to filter run-off. We need to continue with a multi-faceted effort using all the different tools we have available to try to halt the decline in water quality. No one simple solution will reverse the years of accumulated problems affecting the lake.
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 think that the City needs to treat all businesses equal when it comes to issues such as land use, permitting and bid awards. I think there may be some differences in treatment when it comes to help in promoting promotions such as the buy local campaign. Working to promote a sustainable local economy is in the best interest of the City. Money spend in locally owned businesses usually have a greater multiplier effect on the local economy then profits sent out of the community.
10. If elected, what do you propose to do to interact on a regular basis with the Bellingham business community?
I interact with the Bellingham business community on a regular basis now and I plan on continuing to when I am re-elected to the council. Business owners contact me regularly on issues pertaining to their business or their area of expertise. I also reach out to different business owners to get their input on issues when I am researching various issues that are to come before the council. We recently held a special City Council meeting with a number of different representatives from business and business organizations to get input on how we as a council can do a more effective job in promoting economic development efforts. We need to do this on a regular basis. One of the ideas that came forward that I will support is the creation of a “business or economic ombudsman”, a senior level position who can help increase communication with the business community and trouble shoot problems for businesses looking to locate or expand in the community.