Mayor Linville Raids City Budget Funds To Subsidize Private DevelopmentPermalink +
Mon, Jun 17, 2013, 6:00 am // Wendy Harris
The City Council is meeting today and and after reviewing the agenda, I am dismayed to see the city administration’s attempt to create a new funding source for an expensive project, off-site wetland mitigation and stormwater management, by appropriating funds (1.5 million) from projects that were previously budgeted. The total costs will exceed $1,850,000. (Agenda Bill 20010 in the Council Public Works Committee
The public had an expectation of where public funds would be spent, as reflected in the city’s 2013 city budget. Transferring funds from one account to another to support new projects, after the 2013 budget has been approved, is an action that lacks public transparency. No one polices the city budget and provides public accountability when these things occur.
The funds will be used to purchase 13 acres for a regional stormwater facility, and 20 acres for “future wetland mitigation.” The city does not currently manage an off-site mitigation program, which would require amendment of the Critical Area Ordinance and a public hearing. It is disrespectful to the public to fund projects that have not been vetted through the public process and approved by the Council. I ask the Council not to be complicit in these types of actions anymore, particularly because they are becoming a hallmark of the Linville administration.
The Agenda Bill is misleading to the public. It notes the wetland mitigation project on the front page, and thereafter, drops the subject entirely to discuss the stormwater project, which is considerably less controversial.
The stated justification for the fund transfers is that “the City of Bellingham recognizes the importance of job creation and job retention.” Yet, that is completely irrelevant to creation of an off-site wetland mitigation project. Under Bellingham Code, off-site mitigation is authorized only if it is demonstrated to increase ecological function per project being mitigated. BMC 16.55.350.
Site selection for compensatory mitigation shall be based on a location that will provide the greatest ecological benefit and have the greatest likelihood of success. Where feasible, mitigation shall occur in the same subbasin as the permitted wetland alteration. However, if it can be demonstrated that a mitigation site in an alternative subbasin or watershed would provide a greater ecological benefit and offer a more successful replacement of wetland functions and values, compensatory mitigation can take place in an alternative subbasin or watershed.
It is a misuse of public funds to create a city sponsored off-site mitigation plan for the purpose of creating jobs. The administrative needs to be forthcoming about this, and it is not.
The Agenda Bill fails to disclose how the off-site mitigation program will work, such that it will result in increased ecological function, or, if in the alternative, the administration will be attempting to reduce existing levels of protection in the Critical Area Ordinance. Nor does the Agenda Bill disclose the most important fact of all….wetland mitigation is a documented failure. The practical reason to pursue this program is to permit more development and infill, not to protect natural resources.
Moreover, I question the use of $2 million dollars of public funds to essentially subsidize private development. The goal of these projects is to reduce the costs of mitigation for private developers. The City lacks adequate funding for important government services, and should be addressing this gap rather than attempting to subsidize private industry. Let the private sector be responsible for job growth and the public sector be responsible for enforcement and the provision of social services.
We need to stop this trend of funding, and amending into city comprehensive planning documents, projects that have not yet been approved. It may be legal, but it is still an unethical usurpation of power by the Executive Branch. Off-site wetland mitigation, in particular, is an important, controversial topic that requires a much wider community discussion before any actions are taken.
Mon, Jun 17, 2013, 6:00 am // Wendy HarrisIn what is becoming a hallmark of the Linville administration, the mayor is seeking funding for an off-site wetland mitigation program that has not yet been approved.
1 comments; last on Jun 17, 2013
Fri, May 31, 2013, 7:20 pm // Wendy HarrisIdeologically Stubborn Council Majority Ignores Existing Industrial Zoning for Slaughter and Meat Processing Operations
2 comments; last on Jun 01, 2013
Thu, May 16, 2013, 12:55 pm // Wendy HarrisThe public process on the revised waterfront plans is an empty charade
1 comments; last on May 17, 2013
Wed, May 15, 2013, 11:23 pm // Wendy HarrisThe political censor police are listening to you
5 comments; last on May 16, 2013
Fri, May 10, 2013, 10:22 am // Wendy HarrisThe City Planning Commission Advocates "Free Market Capitalism" Approach to Waterfront Planning.
1 comments; last on May 12, 2013
Fri, May 10, 2013, 12:07 am // Wendy HarrisA recent letter by the Parks Department fails to contain reassurance that the geese will be safe from extermination this year.
Fri, May 03, 2013, 11:16 pm // Wendy HarrisThe Humane Society is bringing herding dogs to control Silver Lake geese, but it is not an optimal situation for success.
Wed, May 01, 2013, 11:31 pm // Wendy HarrisThe County Parks Department has allocated funding for playground equipment, but has not allocated funding for wildlife management planning.
1 comments; last on May 03, 2013
Wed, Apr 24, 2013, 7:05 pm // Wendy HarrisThe only urgency underscored by the Silver Lake geese is the urgency of enacting a comprehensive wildlife strategy.
4 comments; last on Apr 29, 2013
Sat, Apr 20, 2013, 11:52 am // Wendy HarrisThere will be no due process for the Canada geese, or the public, before the County Parks Department lethally removes the geese from Silver Lake
4 comments; last on Apr 24, 2013
Wed, Apr 10, 2013, 11:24 pm // Wendy HarrisThe Waterfront District Sub-Area Plan needs policies that favor adaptive reuse and preservation of historic waterfront structures
Sat, Apr 06, 2013, 2:06 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city's proposed new Economic Development Chapter is based on an outdated economic theory
1 comments; last on Apr 06, 2013
Fri, Apr 05, 2013, 4:59 pm // Wendy HarrisNew slaughterhouse proposal "wishes away" current agricultural zoning restrictions.
10 comments; last on Apr 21, 2013
Mon, Apr 01, 2013, 4:00 pm // Wendy HarrisGovernment agencies responsible for the GPT project have completed review of the scoping comments.
Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 10:36 pm // Wendy HarrisA beneficial reuse provision in the Waterfront District Sub-Area Plan would allow construction materials that are contaminated with bioaccumulative toxins.
Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 9:59 pm // Wendy HarrisThe City Planning Department has included a technical document in the waterfront proposal without disclosing important impacts.
1 comments; last on Mar 30, 2013
Fri, Mar 01, 2013, 5:19 pm // Wendy HarrisA variance request pending before the City could create a loophole for developers seeking to avoid compliance with development standards.
5 comments; last on Mar 07, 2013
Tue, Feb 19, 2013, 10:40 pm // Wendy HarrisAn "Updated Preferred Alternative" reduces the number of waterfront jobs and expands the boundary of the waterfront district.
Wed, Feb 13, 2013, 3:59 pm // Wendy HarrisParticipate in the public process by commenting on the new Economic Development chapter to the city comprehensive plan
1 comments; last on Feb 15, 2013
Wed, Jan 30, 2013, 1:09 am // Wendy HarrisThe planning commission no longer serves its purpose due to Council's poor appointment choices
2 comments; last on Feb 10, 2013
Mon, Jan 28, 2013, 2:52 am // Wendy HarrisImproving ecosystem functions holistically is the best form of protection for the Lake Whatcom.
1 comments; last on Jan 28, 2013
Tue, Jan 22, 2013, 7:19 pm // Wendy HarrisLinks to a few noteworthy GPT scoping comments .
1 comments; last on Jan 22, 2013
Fri, Jan 11, 2013, 2:35 pm // Wendy HarrisA proposed amendment to the Lake Whatcom watershed moratorium will increase water quality degradation
1 comments; last on Jan 12, 2013
Mon, Jan 07, 2013, 12:49 am // Wendy HarrisWatch the Whatcom County Council wiggle its way out of the latest round of GMA compliance requirements for Lake Whatcom
Sat, Jan 05, 2013, 12:37 am // Wendy HarrisCouncil majority willing to spend, and spend, and spend public funds defending development rights
2 comments; last on Jan 05, 2013
Sun, Dec 09, 2012, 3:21 pm // Wendy HarrisPer capita, Washington is one of the top states nationwide for providing private business incentives.
Sun, Dec 02, 2012, 7:24 pm // Wendy HarrisAn Ineffective Starling Control Contract That Provides A Subsidy To Farmers Should Be Removed From the County Council Budget
1 comments; last on Dec 03, 2012
Sat, Dec 01, 2012, 4:42 pm // Wendy HarrisThe proposal to allow slaughterhouses and rendering plants in the agriculture zone ignores nearby, and more appropriate, rural industrial zoning.
3 comments; last on Dec 02, 2012
Fri, Nov 16, 2012, 11:02 pm // Wendy HarrisProposed Stormwater Standards For Lake Whatcom Watershed Protect Developers Rather Than Lake
5 comments; last on Nov 20, 2012
Thu, Nov 01, 2012, 12:45 am // Wendy HarrisCounty Council ready to move forward despite the many remaining questions regaring public health and safety
8 comments; last on Nov 04, 2012
Thu, Oct 11, 2012, 4:25 pm // Wendy HarrisReduced public services and facilities yet another public cost for private development
Thu, Sep 20, 2012, 10:04 pm // Wendy HarrisA proposal to zone slaugherhouses on agricultural land will have negative consequences for farmers and residents.
12 comments; last on Sep 30, 2012
Wed, Sep 12, 2012, 3:22 pm // Wendy HarrisIrrational and uninformed last minute opposition derails 5+ year effort to protect Lake Whatcom.
5 comments; last on Sep 18, 2012
Wed, Sep 05, 2012, 11:18 pm // Wendy HarrisThe City has released its letter, but not its poor policy determination regarding exemption from the Public Records Act.
1 comments; last on Sep 06, 2012
Thu, Aug 23, 2012, 9:54 pm // Wendy HarrisIs a popular but flawed philosophy affecting local government policy?
2 comments; last on Aug 25, 2012
Fri, Aug 17, 2012, 12:50 am // Wendy HarrisThe Mayor's Negotiations With Costco Undercuts City Permit Procedures And Public Process
4 comments; last on Aug 17, 2012
Tue, Aug 14, 2012, 3:53 pm // Wendy HarrisFewer development proposals will be subject to environmental review and public process under interim state law
1 comments; last on Aug 15, 2012
Fri, Jul 20, 2012, 12:06 am // Wendy HarrisWind towers disproportionately kill raptors and bats, which has the potential to create signficant ecosystem imbalance.
4 comments; last on Aug 01, 2012
Sun, Jun 10, 2012, 11:48 pm // Wendy HarrisHealthy ecosystems provide important benefits to humans and are sustained through wildlife corridors that protect biodiversity.
4 comments; last on Jun 11, 2012
Sun, Jun 03, 2012, 9:15 pm // Wendy HarrisThe Birch Bay Watershed Action Plan needs to do a better job of protecting and restoring habitat.
Mon, May 21, 2012, 3:14 pm // Wendy HarrisAfter years of debate, the County Council may be requesting that DNR approve the Reconveyance
Tue, May 15, 2012, 7:32 pm // Wendy HarrisA City staff memo on the Bloedel dock closure reads more like an advocacy brief
Mon, May 07, 2012, 11:22 am // Wendy HarrisDioxin contaminated sediment dredged from Squalicum Harbor, dumped at the Cornwall Landfill, may be spread across the R.G. Haley site.
Sat, May 05, 2012, 12:13 am // Wendy HarrisTreaty Rights and Public Rights Ignored During Joint Port/City Meeting on Status of Waterfront Redevelopment
1 comments; last on May 07, 2012
Thu, Mar 29, 2012, 10:32 pm // Wendy HarrisDevelopment at Bloedel Park ignores impacts to important shoreline habitat
2 comments; last on Mar 31, 2012
Fri, Feb 17, 2012, 8:54 pm // Wendy HarrisAttempts by the County Council Chairperson to move the open public comment period to the end of a Council meeting will reduce public input.
1 comments; last on Mar 14, 2012
Wed, Feb 15, 2012, 1:38 pm // Wendy HarrisLesa Starkenburg, former County contract attorney for GMA appeal, demands recusal of Council members who oppose development proposal by her private client, Nor'West Gravel
1 comments; last on Feb 16, 2012
Mon, Jan 30, 2012, 12:16 am // Wendy HarrisThe County's rural planning actions have not just failed to comply with the GMA...they have contradicted the goals of the GMA.
3 comments; last on Feb 05, 2012
Sun, Jan 15, 2012, 1:06 am // Wendy HarrisPlanning Commissioner Onkels should recuse himself from review of environmental impacts at GPT.
3 comments; last on Feb 08, 2012
Mon, Jan 09, 2012, 1:02 am // Wendy HarrisThe County's proposed stormwater regulations for Lake Whatcom will increase development without improving water quality
2 comments; last on Jan 20, 2012
Fri, Dec 30, 2011, 1:59 pm // Wendy HarrisDecide for yourself if this blog comment, posted under my own name, should have been flagged and removed from the Bellingham Herald Online Edition.
1 comments; last on Dec 31, 2011
Fri, Dec 30, 2011, 1:14 pm // Wendy HarrisAnyone can "flag" a blog posting, resulting in immediate removal of your comment, regardless of merit. This is occuring for comments supporting OB.
1 comments; last on Dec 30, 2011
Wed, Dec 28, 2011, 10:26 pm // Wendy HarrisThe City infringed on the public’s right to peaceful assembly in a public park by enforcing an inappropriate public safety law
2 comments; last on Dec 30, 2011
Sun, Dec 18, 2011, 10:43 pm // Wendy HarrisRelocation of a dock to Bloedel Donovan Park underscores failure to protect Lake Whatcom from invasive species
Wed, Dec 14, 2011, 9:05 am // Wendy HarrisClaiming it is unfair to treat large property owners different than small property owners, the Commission refuses to remove industrial areas from buffer mitigation proposal.
Wed, Dec 07, 2011, 9:00 am // Wendy HarrisTell the Planning Commission to eliminate this loophole
2 comments; last on Dec 14, 2011
Fri, Dec 02, 2011, 3:08 pm // Wendy HarrisPlanning Staff's recommended revision will not prevent SSA from reducing wetland buffers.
Tue, Nov 22, 2011, 11:29 pm // Wendy HarrisThe County's new mitigation proposal is unlikely to be adequate for Cherry Point's industrial impacts to habitat buffers
3 comments; last on Nov 24, 2011
Mon, Nov 14, 2011, 12:07 pm // Wendy HarrisProposed new storm water regulations will increase Lake Whatcom development. Hearing this Thursday.
1 comments; last on Nov 14, 2011
Sun, Nov 06, 2011, 11:48 pm // Wendy HarrisImportant events concerning the Lake occurred during the election with little comment from the public, the candidates or the media.
16 comments; last on Nov 10, 2011
New Linksthe Oatmeal
Current InterestCommunity Wise Bellingham
Friends of Whatcom
Lummi Island Quarry
League of Women Voters
Paul Krugman - economics
Local Blogs & NewsBellingham Herald
Bham Herald Politics Blog
Bham Politics & Economics
Friends of Whatcom
Get Whatcom Planning
League of Women Voters
Western Front - WWU
Local CausesBellingham Police Activity
Chuckanut Community Forest
Citizens of Bellingham
City Club of Bellingham
Community Wise Bellingham
Cordata & Meridian
Facebook Port Reform
Futurewise - Whatcom
Jail - local mega plans
Lummi Island Quarry
N. Cascades Audubon
NW Holocaust Center
Reduce Jet Noise
Salish Sea Org.
Save the Granary Building
WA Conservation Voters
Port of Bellingham
US - The White House
WA State Access
WA State Elections
WA State Legislature
Weather & ClimateCliff Mass Weather Blog
Two day forecast
Watts Up With That? - climate
Edge of Sports
Famous Internet Skiers
Good LinksAl-Jazeera online
Foreign Policy in Focus
Innocence Project, The
Intrnational Herald Tribune
Middle East Times
New American Century
Paul Krugman - economics
Personal bio info
Portland Indy Media
Project Vote Smart
Talking Points Memo
War and Piece
NwCitizen 1995 - 2007Early Northwest Citizen
Internet At Its BestTED
Quiet, Offline or DeadBellingham Register
N. Sound Conservancy
No Leaky Buckets
Protect Bellingham Parks
The American Telegraph
The Crisis Papers