Chuckanut Ridge now fully owned by bank

Permalink +

Fri, Jul 22, 2011, 4:52 pm  //  John Servais

Washington Federal has bought out Greenbriar's interest in Chuckanut Ridge. This clears the way for a sale of the 100 plus acres to the city of Bellingham - and the preservation of this valuable wetlands.

This morning on the courthouse steps a foreclosure auction was held and Washington Federal paid itself about $11 million for the 50% share of David Edelstein's portion of Greenbriar's ownership in the property. Sound complicated? This only touches the very basics. Edelstein has reportedly held back the sale of the property by the bank to the city for over a year now.  The bank has been ready to sell the property to the city since taking over the assets of defunct Horizon Bank over a year ago.  Edelstein was a major player in that bank and had millions in loans from the bank - which he has since owed to Washington Federal.  

Mayor Dan Pike will now no doubt put together a purchase deal with the bank for close to $9 million and then seek City Council approval. The property is only worth about $6 million, according to some experts. And whether the council will approve over spending by almost $3 million city tax dollars is another question.  

The auction was a surprise to most of those I contacted today. While there was a little-noticed legal notice in the Herald, there was no reporting in the paper and, indeed, even as I post now there is no information on the Bellingham Herald website.

If others have more information on all this, please feel free to comment and help us all learn more. 

Robert P. Gibb  //  Sun, Jul 24, 2011, 1:11 am

John, my comments about Chuckanut Ridge (CR) are as President of the Chuckanut Mountains Park District Advisory Committee. Yes, we are still alive but without much resource.  We have played a role in the CR saga, communicating with the FDIC as Horizon collapsed, and with Washington Federal (WF). We have monitored their successful foreclosure, their lawsuits and counter suites with Edelstein, and the fascinating redundant process of sale of the property to themselves in the court house atrium above the steps where there were several other sales going on at the same time.

We have met with several City Council members,  President Shepard at WWU, and Mayor Pike relative to setting up joint ownership of CR much like the Sehome Arboretum, between the City and WWU.  Our pitch is that the City pay whatever it can negotiate with the bank for half of the title.  The other half will be donated by WF as a charitable donation to the WWU Foundation. Naming rights might be included.  WF is concerned that the FDIC will/may object but I have discussed this with the FDIC legal counsel and off the top, he saw no problem as long as it is standard banking practices.  From my perspective gifting a forested wetland to an educational institution for teaching and research purposes is far more socially redeeming than funding a baseball or football stadium for a bunch of professional athletes and private owners to make their personal fortunes.

For the City, joint ownership shares the maintenance, operational and liability costs.  It will generate positive PR and make whatever the finale negotiated cost look better.  The mayor has agreed.  Despite the many guesses as to the value of the property, it has always been what a willing buyer will pay.  Of interest at the courthouse sale, Steve Adelstein, I presume representing David Edelstein,  before the auction started asked the trustee conducting the auction, what the bank’s bidding price was. Developers are still out there willing to buy a swamp, if the prices is low enough. Hopefully, whoever does the negotiating for the City keeps this in mind as they negotiate.

This property will not tolerate high recreational use.  It requires environmental protection to continue to function in nurturing Chuckanut and Padden Creeks and protecting Puget Sound.  WWU will have a strong vested interest in maintaining this property.  Huxley will be the only environmental college in the nation with a forested wetland as a teaching and research asset within walking distance of the campus.

The job now is to educate the City Council and the community at large that acquisition by the City and WWU is a worthwhile environmental investment for future generations.

Tip Johnson  //  Mon, Jul 25, 2011, 11:36 am

Sure, price is always an issue.

I remember when developers wanted Big Rock Garden and argued that it was inappropriate for the City to pay more than they would.  I disagreed.  If a property is worth preserving, it is worth outbidding developers.

The Chuckanut Ridge property is a little more complicated. In this case, the exorbitant value was literally cooked up by phony zoning and maintained through terrible City planning and administration.  Even after all that, it appraised in 1996 (or thereabouts) at a bit over $3 million.  Then we had the housing bubble and the greed-bone antics of a failed bank and developer pumping it up to a turgid $24 million asking price, assessed around $14 million.

Today it is a different story.  I doubt developers will be clamoring for a piece of the Chuckanut Ridge action.  They certainly were not thronging the courthouse steps to buy it at half the would-be developers price.  One look at the DEIS unequivocally underscores the absurdity of the proposal.  It showed that a negotiated one-half of the zoned density would create a disaster.  Newcomers will have to face that fact and won’t be able to exploit archaic wetland protection standards and claims of vestment that the City has so conveniently maintained for the now failed proponents.

Nevertheless, the Chuckanut Ridge property has great value to the City.  It is the only property that could expand Fairhaven Park to meet the City’s own standards for the area’s planned population targets.  It is the only property that can effectively bridge Fairhaven Park to the City’s existing Interurban investments.  It is the only property tha City might use to create a regionally significant Gateway to the Chuckanuts.  After that, it is a wetland wonderland that sustains an important foodchain and habitat.

So I’m OK with outbidding developers.  But times have changed.  The Bank and the City should now do what is usually required:  another appraisal.  However, the City has been remiss in not reviewing the zoning and in not enforcing the wetland public safety standards.  It has foolishly bent over backwards to advantage this project time and again.  It has created an unreasonable expectation for the property and its carrying capacity.

It is time to square away these factors and appraise the property at it’s highest and best reasonable use.  Then the City can feel just fine about outbidding that number.

Larry Horowitz  //  Mon, Jul 25, 2011, 3:12 pm

In many ways, the ball is now in Washington Federal?s court.  For the past year and a half, bank executives have pledged their intent to ?do the right thing? but were stymied by their inability to act unilaterally while WA Fed was handicapped by the joint venture agreement initiated by Horizon Bank.

Now that the property itself is owned outright by WA Fed - and the bank is no longer encumbered by its association with Edelstein - will WA Fed ?do the right thing??

Will the bank finally recognize that there is absolutely no value (nada, zilch?) associated with any perceived ability to circumvent the unique public safety and environmental safeguards of the almost six year old Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO)? 

Does WA Fed understand that any development of this property will require 150 foot minimum buffers for all five Category 1 wetlands?

Will WA Fed revise its appraisal to reflect these expanded buffers and reduced developability?

WA Fed can be a good corporate citizen worthy of its slogan? ?Washington Federal. invested here?.  Or it can attempt to squeeze every penny from Bellingham taxpayers by trying to sell the property to the city at an over-inflated value based on insufficient wetland buffers.

To date, Mayor Pike has failed to protect the safety of Bellingham residents by refusing to enforce the CAO, a law specifically designed to protect the public from injury, loss of life, and property damage due to erosion, flooding, landslides, and steep slope failures.  By law, public safety ordinances are exempt from vesting, but the city attorney is apparently not up to speed. 

Regardless, the application is not vested under the prior wetland laws because it is neither complete nor compliant with the laws in effect when submitted.  Of course, vesting was made irrelevant when the Dept of Ecology confirmed they will require best available science for the Category 1 wetland buffers, a minimum of at least 150 feet.

Hopefully our esteemed Council members have been paying attention and will require a revised appraisal based on 150 foot buffers.  The revised appraisal will need to reflect the fact that, under best available science and 150 foot buffers, the connector road prerequisite cannot be met.  Consequently, the land is potentially undevelopable, at least as a high density, multi-family project.

It?s time for all parties to ?do the right thing?.  Not only Washington Federal, but our own public servants as well.

Court: No Radio Towers in Point Roberts

Thu, Oct 08, 2015, 8:14 am  //  John Lesow

A Canadian radio station is trying to install huge radio towers in Point Roberts for a Canadian audience. Citizen movement has fought them.


James King Resigns as Bellingham Parks Director

Sat, Oct 03, 2015, 3:47 pm  //  John Servais

James King to return to Alaska and take job with U.S. Forest Service. Mayor will appoint a new parks director.

1 comments; last on Oct 04, 2015

Just Say No - to the Incarceration-Industrial Complex

Fri, Oct 02, 2015, 11:48 am  //  David Camp

The "... new jail just doesn't pencil out", writes a well qualified accountant. A look at the future costs of the proposed jail.

11 comments; last on Oct 09, 2015

Alternative Jail Proposal for City Center

Tue, Sep 22, 2015, 5:54 pm  //  John Servais

There is a good alternative for a decent jail - but we first must vote down the jail sales tax proposal in November.

5 comments; last on Sep 24, 2015

Wendy DeFreest is Opening a ‘Burger Joint’

Sat, Sep 19, 2015, 4:37 pm  //  John Servais

Wendy DeFreest, of Avenue Bread, will open a new "burger joint" called The Filling Station by late October in Fairhaven. It will not be a sandwich cafe.


That Louwsy Jail Deal

Tue, Sep 15, 2015, 6:26 pm  //  Tip Johnson

FEMA camp or new county seat?

12 comments; last on Sep 24, 2015

A Learning Moment - Hopefully

Sun, Sep 13, 2015, 9:42 am  //  John Servais

Beware walking RR tracks on the Fairhaven waterfront in the event of unexpected encounter with a high speed train

2 comments; last on Sep 18, 2015

Second Water Main Break on Donovan in a Year

Mon, Sep 07, 2015, 9:06 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Mains a' bursting - Avast!


Homeowner to city: Please buy me out

Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 10:17 am  //  John Servais

Padden Creek daylighting project strays far from city promises to homeowner that his property would remain intact.

4 comments; last on Sep 05, 2015

How Our Community Can Welcome Our Troops Home

Mon, Aug 24, 2015, 5:11 am  //  Guest writer

Christopher Brown guest writes how traditional communal warrior reintegration practices could help our returning combat veterans.


Black Lives Matter, Occupy WS & Whatcom Jail

Wed, Aug 19, 2015, 7:55 pm  //  Whatcom Citizen

A Whatcom Citizen writes of protest movements and how our proposed county mega jail is related to them.

15 comments; last on Sep 04, 2015

$15/hr Minimum Wage - Seriously?

Wed, Aug 19, 2015, 5:00 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Moves to set the minimum wage to $15, even if successful, are woefully insufficient. And why aren't people speaking out about abusive work scheduling?

2 comments; last on Sep 17, 2015

Local retired librarian injured by police

Tue, Aug 18, 2015, 12:17 am  //  Guest writer

Bruce Radtke, a retired Bellingham librarian, reported to be assaulted by police for handing out leaflets

5 comments; last on Aug 27, 2015

Predictive Policing Comes to Bellingham

Sun, Aug 16, 2015, 3:39 pm  //  Guest writer

Is the tail wagging the dog? Edward Alexander guest writes on why predictive software for our police needs basic questions answered before purchase.

1 comments; last on Aug 22, 2015

Gunfight at Cornwall Park on Wednesday

Thu, Aug 13, 2015, 11:29 am  //  John Servais

Nothing in the Herald this morning, so NWCitizen is informing citizens of shootout at Cornwall Park.

1 comments; last on Aug 13, 2015

Whatcom Conservation District Elections

Sun, Aug 09, 2015, 11:52 am  //  Guest writer

Barbara Perry has been researching the secretive election processes of the Whatcom Conservation District. Really secretive. Probably fraudulent.

1 comments; last on Aug 12, 2015

Election Results - Aug 4 Primary

Tue, Aug 04, 2015, 8:09 pm  //  John Servais

9:52 - final post for tonight. A running blog about the election results on this August evening. Feel free to comment.

8 comments; last on Aug 06, 2015

The Hansen’s Giant Rental Megaplex - Part 2

Tue, Aug 04, 2015, 10:14 am  //  Dick Conoboy

While the city deals with permitting on the Hansen rental megaplexes, the council has asked for proposals from staff on design standards for historic areas.

9 comments; last on Aug 07, 2015

Whatcom Co.: 90 Million Gallons of Water a Day

Wed, Jul 22, 2015, 12:42 am  //  Guest writer

Eric Hirst provides us all with a well researched report on Whatcom County water issues - rights, Lake Whatcom, ground water and more.

10 comments; last on Aug 12, 2015

Electromagnetic Radiation: Who’s Looking Out for You?

Tue, Jul 14, 2015, 4:13 pm  //  John Lesow

The fight to keep Point Roberts from becoming a Radio Tower Farm is not over.

3 comments; last on Jul 22, 2015

Kudos to Our Police

Mon, Jul 13, 2015, 5:38 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Bellingham police are obviously trained to de-escalate armed confrontations. This is the way it should be.

6 comments; last on Jul 14, 2015

Lois Garlick was our hero

Thu, Jul 09, 2015, 8:27 am  //  John Servais

Lois Garlick has died. For many decades, she and George served as environmental stewards and leaders in preserving wildlife and nature.

2 comments; last on Jul 10, 2015

Whatcom County Council adds ballot measure

Wed, Jul 08, 2015, 9:27 am  //  John Servais

Last minute political maneuvering by liberal council seeks to counter conservative review commission ballot proposals.

1 comments; last on Aug 12, 2015

Charter amendments approved

Tue, Jul 07, 2015, 9:13 am  //  John Servais

The Charter Review Commission made Monday evening's meeting their last - and forwarded 8 charter amendments to the County Council

3 comments; last on Jul 08, 2015

Family Home For Rent: $44,000/year

Tue, Jul 07, 2015, 5:34 am  //  Dick Conoboy

For Rent: York neighborhood, new, 7 bedroom single-family home, near WWU. Only $44,000 a year. City planning not paying attention.

6 comments; last on Jul 09, 2015

Charter Commission Tricks

Mon, Jul 06, 2015, 4:30 pm  //  John Servais

Two dirty tricks by the uber-conservative minority on the Charter Review Commission aimed to put their agenda before the council.

3 comments; last on Jul 07, 2015

Drought Tree Emergency!

Thu, Jul 02, 2015, 2:55 pm  //  David Camp

Trees are dying for lack of water! Only citizen action can save them.


Fireworks and Clay Butler

Thu, Jul 02, 2015, 7:47 am  //  Dick Conoboy

If your 4th of July holiday is much more quiet this year, you can thank Clay Bulter who passed away at the end of May.


A Tale of Three Rezones

Mon, Jun 29, 2015, 5:00 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The Samish Neighborhood Plan has been the subject of three undesired rezones in the last year. The city ignores its own guidelines to the detriment of all.


County prosecutor plays cruel games

Thu, Jun 25, 2015, 6:00 pm  //  John Servais

Updated at 6 pm. Our county justice system has spent 6 years trying to teach Luba Pekisheva that she should not defend herself. Justice denied and miscarried.

8 comments; last on Jul 22, 2015

Proposed New County Lockup - Financial Analysis

Mon, Jun 22, 2015, 5:00 pm  //  David Camp

A look at the proposal in historic financial context with projections and several questions for the proponents.

8 comments; last on Jul 10, 2015

Hansen-Iron Street Rental Megaplex Planned for York Neighborhood

Mon, Jun 01, 2015, 3:49 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Three extraordinarily large (7-bedroom) single family home rentals are proposed by developers Dave and Jon Hansen on Iron St. in the York Neighborhood.

7 comments; last on Jun 10, 2015

Chiara D’Angelo comes down from anchor chain

Mon, May 25, 2015, 8:17 pm  //  John Servais

Young Chiara spent 3 nights hanging from the anchor chain of Shell Oil's Arctic Challenger as a protest to arctic oil drilling.


Flash Mob Protests Arctic Drilling

Thu, May 21, 2015, 11:50 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein we ponder the fate of humanity


Joy Gilfilen Declares for County Executive

Mon, May 18, 2015, 11:17 pm  //  John Servais

Joy Gilfilen is challenging incumbent Jack Louws for County Executive.

4 comments; last on May 20, 2015

85 County Single Candidate Elections

Fri, May 15, 2015, 6:10 pm  //  John Servais

Running update of who is filing for office in Whatcom County. Posts during day Friday and final update Friday evening.

4 comments; last on May 17, 2015

Updated:  Ski to Sea Tries to Bully Bellingham

Wed, May 13, 2015, 5:30 pm  //  John Servais

Updated | Ski to Sea race does not need to race through sensitive Chuckanut Community Forest Park for special mountain bike leg. City did not renege.

10 comments; last on May 15, 2015

County proposes free pass for vacation rentals

Sun, Apr 26, 2015, 2:05 pm  //  Guest writer

Tani Sutley writes a second article on the increasing number of vacation rentals - and the County Council bill to let them expand dramatically.

4 comments; last on May 02, 2015

Student Housing Project Revived for Lincoln St. Development Site

Thu, Apr 09, 2015, 5:03 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The Puget Neighborhood is about to become a bit more crowded but less than originally planned. 600+ students to be housed south of Fred Meyer.

6 comments; last on Apr 12, 2015

A Perspective on Port Politics

Sat, Apr 04, 2015, 1:15 pm  //  John Servais

The port's latest bone-headed deal calls for the good citizens of Whatcom County to consider the options...unless we're enjoying our Groundhog Day.

3 comments; last on Apr 07, 2015

Irish Thuggery

Thu, Apr 02, 2015, 8:30 pm  //  Tip Johnson

The difference between a threat and a promise

5 comments; last on Apr 03, 2015

Port Gives Away Our Bellingham Waterfront

Wed, Apr 01, 2015, 12:20 am  //  John Servais

Port of Bellingham today sold out our public waterfront to a foreign shell company formed 6 days ago. Sold it cheap and with a screwy arrangement.

32 comments; last on Apr 05, 2015

The Last Lessons of Dr. David T. Mason

Sat, Mar 21, 2015, 11:16 am  //  Guest writer

Kamalla Kaur worked with David Mason on his biographical materials and offers this tribute to his illustrious life.

2 comments; last on Mar 23, 2015

County Meth Ordinance Sent Back to Committee

Fri, Mar 13, 2015, 5:00 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The Whatcom County Council has sent discussion on changing the meth ordinance back to the Public Works, Health and Safety Committee


Robyn du Pre` Has Passed On

Thu, Mar 12, 2015, 1:06 pm  //  John Servais

Add your thoughts and remembrances. Robyn du Pre` was a stalwart and true environmental advocate for Bellingham and Whatcom County. She died this week.

9 comments; last on Mar 23, 2015

How the Party Treats Jeb and Hillary Tells You Everything

Thu, Feb 26, 2015, 10:39 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley shares some insight into the national political parties

5 comments; last on Mar 09, 2015

Dealing with Meth Contamination - A Race to the Bottom in Whatcom County

Wed, Feb 25, 2015, 6:31 am  //  Dick Conoboy

In a hearing, possibly on 3 March, the Whatcom County Council will consider an ordinance changing the rules for contaminated meth use sites.

1 comments; last on Feb 27, 2015

Rent-to-Own Scam on Tenants

Mon, Feb 09, 2015, 6:00 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Not all rent-to-own propositions are an unwise method to buy a home but some are schemes to rip off the unsuspecting tenant.


The Hidden Election

Mon, Feb 02, 2015, 9:34 am  //  Guest writer

No ballot mailed to you. You must request a ballot for voting in the Whatcom Conservation District election. Deadline to apply is Feb 9. By Barbara Perry


Little Hong Kong by the Bay

Thu, Jan 29, 2015, 10:56 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein Bellingham's billion dollar boondoggle is revisited

5 comments; last on Aug 14, 2015

A Call to Action to Support the Lummi Nation

Tue, Jan 27, 2015, 9:55 am  //  Terry Wechsler

The Lummi requested on Jan. 5, 2015, that the federal government, through the Army Corps of Engineers, honor Art. V of the Treaty of Point Elliott and deny…

1 comments; last on Feb 04, 2015

The Pickett House Museum

Sun, Jan 25, 2015, 12:32 pm  //  Guest writer

Adventures of George Pickett in the Pacific Northwest Wilderness

5 comments; last on Jan 28, 2015

Call to Action—Shell Anacortes Crude by Rail Proposal

Sat, Jan 24, 2015, 3:15 pm  //  Terry Wechsler

The fourth area refinery crude by rail infrastructure project to receive permits without benefit of environmental review is being appealed, and provides an opportunity to make precedent.


Riley Sweeney to Receive Paul deArmond Award

Fri, Jan 23, 2015, 12:13 am  //  John Servais

The second annual award for Citizen Journalism will be to The Political Junkie himself who runs the Sweeney Politics blog, Riley Sweeney.

2 comments; last on Jan 24, 2015

The Annexation Games

Tue, Jan 20, 2015, 3:07 am  //  Guest writer

Guest article by Sandra Alfers. Water and sewer connections drive unwanted annexation. Trickle Creek homeowners are muzzled by a "no protest zone."

1 comments; last on Jan 20, 2015

A Walk With Hope

Sun, Jan 18, 2015, 10:14 pm  //  Guest writer

Ellen Murphy gives us a poem for this Martin Luther King day of remembrance.

2 comments; last on Jan 21, 2015

Dead or Alive: How do you like your herring?

Sun, Jan 18, 2015, 9:15 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein the ridiculous is ridiculed

5 comments; last on Jan 21, 2015

Lodging Goals for Whatcom County

Thu, Jan 08, 2015, 2:54 pm  //  Guest writer

Tani Sutley guest writes about the vacation rentals situation and presents goals for the county council to consider for improving our rural neighborhoods.

1 comments; last on Jan 10, 2015

Water is Valuable

Wed, Dec 31, 2014, 1:16 am  //  Guest writer

Duuhhh! Try doing without it. Marian Beddill provides an overview of our rural Whatcom County water situation and the efforts to find fair solutions.

3 comments; last on Jan 08, 2015

Riley’s Top 5 Whatcom Political Stories of 2014

Wed, Dec 24, 2014, 1:23 pm  //  Riley Sweeney

The Herald gave us their top 10 stories, Riley gives you his top 5



New Links

Bellingham Wins

Noisy Waters

Election Info

Election Results

WA State Elections
Whatcom County Elections

Coal, Oil & Trains

Coal Stop

Community Wise Bham
Powder River Basin R. C.

Local Blogs & News

Bellingham Herald

Bham Business Journal
Bham Politics & Econ
Cascadia Weekly
Ferndale Record
Friends of Whatcom
Get Whatcom Planning
Latte Republic
League of Women Voters
Lynden Tribune
Noisy Waters
Northern Light
Twilight Zoning
Western Front - WWU
Whatcom Watch

Local Causes

Chuckanut C. Forest

City Club of Bellingham
Conservation NW
Futurewise - Whatcom
Lake Whatcom
Lummi Island Quarry
N. Cascades Audubon
NW Holocaust Center
RE Sources
Salish Sea Org.
Save the Granary
Transition Whatcom
WA Conservation Voters
Whatcom Peace & Justice


- Whatcom County

Port of Bellingham
Skagit County
US House
US Senate
US Supreme Court
US The White House
WA State
WA State Elections
Whatcom COG

NWCitizen 1995-2007

Early Northwest Citizen

Weather & Climate

Cliff Mass Weather Blog

Climate Audit
Nat Hurricane Center
NW Radar
Two day forecast
Watts Up With That?


Adventures NW

Bellingham Wins
Edge of Sports
Entertainment NNW
Famous Internet Skiers
Recreation Northwest
Sailing Anarchy

Good Web Sites

Al-Jazeera online

Alaska Dispatch
Arab News
Asia Times
Atlantic, The
Change The Mascot
Common Dreams
Crosscut Seattle
Daily Kos
Daily Mirror
Drudge Report
Foreign Policy in Focus
Guardian Unlimited
Gulf News
Huffington Post
Innocence Project
Irish Times
James Fallows
Jerusalem Post
Joel Connelly
Juan Cole
Julia Ioffe/New Republic
Le Diplo
Media Matters
Michael Moore
Middle East Times
Nation, The
New American Century
News Trust
Online Journal
Palestine Daily
Palestine News
Paul Krugman
Personal bio info
Portland Indy Media
Progressive Review
Project Vote Smart
Sea Shepherd
Stand for the Troops
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Talking Points Memo
The Crisis Papers
The Intercept
the Oatmeal
War and Piece
Washington Votes

Quiet, Offline or Dead

Bellingham Register

Bhm Herald Politics Blog
Bob Sanders
Carl Weimer
Chuckanut Mountains
Citizen Ted
Citizens of Bellingham
Cordata & Meridian
David Hackworth
Facebook Port Reform
Intrnational Herald Tribune
Jack Petree
N. Sound Conservancy
No Leaky Buckets
Northwest Review
Protect Bellingham Parks
Sweeney Politics
The American Telegraph
Wally Wonders