Action Alert for Tonight: Waterfront Wildlife and Habitat Threatened

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Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 10:43 am  //  Wendy Harris

Previously, I discussed the problem with the habitat assessment needed for the Waterfront District before waterfront development occurs.

Prior to the enactment of the Water District Subarea Plan, the public and the city council requested that a wildlife and habitat assessment be conducted, and issues of habitat connectivity were emphasized. This includes connectivity from the nearshore to the shoreline and the uplands.

After fighting any attempt to do a habitat assessment, something that should have been done as part of the EIS for the Water District, but was ignored due to fancy maneuvering by the port, the Mayor was stuck.  The council had enough votes on the habitat issue to withhold approval of the waterfront plan.  And it is noteworthy that this is the only issue where this situation existed.

The Mayor agreed to the habitat assessment and moreover, stated that the administration would fund it from its existing budget.  This was a big red flag, but it was ignored. Ted Carlson, from Public Works, drafted the resolution for council approval and it was enacted along with the Waterfront District Sub-Area Plan. 

Fast forward a few months and staff represented an update to the council regarding the status of a $50,000 “habitat connectivity” project.  Ever vigilant North Sound Baykeeper Wendy Steffensen asked for a copy of the RFP, (Request for Proposal, issued to solicit bids from contractors.)  Turns out, the city administration has a limited concept of habitat connectivity, which involves only the nearshore of the waterfront. 

When I questioned the staff about this, I was told that they were simply following the council’s directives. I was advised that the council only asked for a nearshore assessment.  Since I had followed the waterfront planning session, including the council work sessions, fairly closely, particularly on habitat issues, this was contrary to everything that I had heard.  After a little investigation, it was revealed that the resolution, drafted by Ted Carlson, contained the restricted language for the habitat review, and in the rush and confusion of getting the waterfront plan enacted under the mayor’s fabricated deadlines, this simply was not noticed.

I immediately brought this to the council’s attention during an open session, and to their great credit, they did not automatically endorse the approach reflected in the RFP. Rather, they forwarded this matter to the Lake Whatcom and Natural Resources Committee to review the scope of the habitat assessment and determine if it was adequate.

That committee meeting is today at 1:10 PM and I will be unable to attend.  I hope to attend the open session at tonight’s meeting and will need additional support from the general public to ensure that we are literally not cheated out of the deal made by the council, in response to strong public advocacy, by the city administration.  The problem is that by now, everyone has gone home. No one is focused on waterfront issues anymore.  No one is aware of this abuse of power and this attempt to undermine the public’s will.

Why is this being done?….the same motivation that justified all of the waterfront plan… profits.  Fish, nearshore and in stream, do not reduce the city’s developable land base, and therefore, the city’s potential source of income.  The waterfront is the city’s “golden egg”, and they are unwilling to give up one square inch of profitable development rights to mitigate for wildlife and habitat. The motivation is understandable, but it is not the law, nor is it the will of city residents. 

If you can, please show up tonight and speak at open session.  Thank the city council for their actions in support of habitat and wildlife protection, and public input, and ask them to require a full wildlife and habitat assessment and analysis, both nearshore and upland, to determine local species, habitat and connectivity.  We need to ensure that waterfront developers are mitigating any loss in ecological function.  Here are some talking points:

1. Large data gaps in the city’s information regarding waterfront species and habitat are well documented in the city’s habitat and wildlife plan from 1995 and 2003, and were reconfirmed in a consultant review by Environmental Science Associates, (ESA) only a year ago.  In particular, the city has little information regarding terrestrial species and habitat.  This needs to be addressed.

2. And the information we do have is a cause for alarm. We have a plummeting population of seabirds. Recently, an alarming decline in biodiversity in the Bay, and possible association with different forms of toxic contamination and possibly, a moving wood slurry, were document by the Department of Ecology. 

3. Since the last outdated EIS was completed, 3 new species of rockfish have been added to the endangered species list for Bellingham Bay. This is not documented for consideration during waterfront development.

4. A valid habitat and wildlife assessment must incorporate the entire waterfront district, and incorporate all species.  It must identify the specific impacts from waterfront development on wildlife and habitat, such as increased marine traffic, increased intensity of human use, conflicting land uses, inadequate habitat buffers, tall buildings with glass windows within a bird migration route, roads and utilities that fragment habitat and create barriers to wildlife movement.

5. It must discuss whether or not mitigation can off-set these impacts, and if not, whether the development should be permitted, or whether the city and port will provided compensatory habitat (provide or protect new habitat somewhere else.)

6.  A current, quantifiable baseline standard must be established in order to determine whether or not waterfront development results in a loss of ecological function and requires mitigation.  A baseline standard must be measurable and monitored to enforce the requirements of the law.

Thank you,everyone.  Unfortunately, retaining control over local government requires constant vigilance.

Action Alert for Tonight: Waterfront Wildlife and Habitat Threatened

Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 10:43 am  //  Wendy Harris

The public needs to support city council and request that a waterfront habitat assessment include terrestrial species and habitat connectivity.


Tell County To Expand Scope of EIS Review for Plants and Animals

Tue, Apr 01, 2014, 12:27 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Please help us protect county wildlife by ensuring that the scope of the EIS review is adequate. A sample scoping letter is included.


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Public May Comment On EIS Scoping For County Comp. Plan Until April 7th

Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 1:23 am  //  Wendy Harris

The public has a week to comment on the scope of issues reviewed under the EIS.


My State of the Lake Report for 2014

Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 12:32 am  //  Wendy Harris

On March 26, 2014 the city and county provided their update and assessment on the status of Lake Whatcom. This is mine.

2 comments; last on Apr 01, 2014

Propaganda Replaces Public Information:  An Analysis of the Lake Whatcom TDML Process

Sun, Mar 16, 2014, 11:52 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The public is not provided with a proposed plan or adequate information prior to the annual "state of the lake" meeting

4 comments; last on Mar 18, 2014

Action Alert for Tonight: Waterfront Wildlife and Habitat Not Being Protected as Promised

Mon, Feb 24, 2014, 3:33 pm  //  Wendy Harris

We were led to believe the city would review waterfront wildlife and habitat connectivity. It turns out that the city intends to focus only on nearshore fish.


Wendy Harris on Citizen Journalism

Sat, Feb 22, 2014, 12:16 am  //  Wendy Harris

Accepting the Paul deArmond award of citizen journalism on Feb 7, Wendh Harris gave this speech. We think it deserves its own post.


Bellingham Seeks “Flexibility” To Sell Wholesale Rural Sewer Services

Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 9:35 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The mayor wants to amend a city law to increase flexibility for a GMA provision that should be used rarely, if ever at all.

3 comments; last on Feb 11, 2014

The Hidden Costs of Costco

Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 2:36 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Costco imposes indirect costs on our community that are as real and tangible as road construction expenses.

1 comments; last on Feb 13, 2014

Have You Exceeded Your Right To Information?

Sat, Feb 01, 2014, 12:35 am  //  Wendy Harris

Filing a public record request could land a citizen in jail under a proposal reflected in a Herald opinion article.

2 comments; last on Feb 03, 2014

Port Memo Addresses Marina Fraud Allegations

Fri, Dec 20, 2013, 3:56 pm  //  Wendy Harris

A Port of Bellingham internal memo tries, but fails, to justify changes in cost estimates for alternative marina sites.

5 comments; last on Dec 22, 2013

Lummi Influence Over the Waterfront Planning Process Continues to Grow

Tue, Dec 17, 2013, 12:21 am  //  Wendy Harris

Army Corps advised DOE that it will not issue a waterfront permit without Lummi approval

2 comments; last on Jan 13, 2014

On Monday, City Council Votes “third and final” Approval of Waterfront Plan

Sat, Dec 07, 2013, 12:33 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Local activist calls on Bellingham City Council to table the unpopular waterfront plans and engage in meaningful public process

2 comments; last on Dec 08, 2013

Lecture on County Water Issues Draws Crowd

Fri, Dec 06, 2013, 11:03 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The county will be required to consider water quality and water quantity when planning rural growth.

3 comments; last on Dec 10, 2013

Waterfront Development Bonus Yet Another Bad Idea

Sat, Nov 30, 2013, 8:11 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The waterfront plan allows a development bonus for payments made to the Lake Whatcom land acquisition fund

1 comments; last on Dec 01, 2013

City and Port Ready To Act on Waterfront Plan

Fri, Nov 29, 2013, 9:43 pm  //  Wendy Harris

A number of important issues need to be resolved before waterfront planning is complete, but the city council and port commission are ready to act.

2 comments; last on Nov 30, 2013

Port Unable To Protect Public Safety

Fri, Nov 22, 2013, 9:01 pm  //  Wendy Harris

If the port can not construct the airport safely, should it be entrusted with dangerous waterfront cleanup work?


City Council Misled On Waterfront Planning

Wed, Nov 13, 2013, 3:16 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The city adminstration has been providing misleading/ incorrect information to the city council to avoid waterfront plan revisions.

1 comments; last on Nov 18, 2013

Gloomy Fate For Waterfront Wildlife

Sat, Nov 09, 2013, 9:47 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The COB administration continues in its refusal to analyze waterfront wildlife issues, even though this is a prerequisite step in protecting wildlife from the impacts of development

3 comments; last on Nov 10, 2013

COB Staff Manipulates Waterfront Planning for Controversial Overwater Walkway

Tue, Oct 15, 2013, 2:46 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Requesting waterfront handouts for the Overwater Walkway while proclaiming autonomy from further public review is unjustifiable.

2 comments; last on Oct 16, 2013

Treaty Rights and Public Rights Ignored In Overwater Walkway

Tue, Oct 08, 2013, 2:22 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The city staff considers the overwater walkway a done deal before official approval or resolution of treaty right conflicts

4 comments; last on Oct 16, 2013

Status Of Waterfront Analysis For Plants and Animals

Wed, Oct 02, 2013, 10:19 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The city administration asserts that there is no gap in waterplant plant and animal analysis


COB Habitat Restoration Master Plan Open House

Wed, Oct 02, 2013, 10:01 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Bellingham is holding an open house to introduce the public to its habitat restoration master plan, despite being at a preliminary draft stage

3 comments; last on Oct 04, 2013

Wildlife Impacts Missing In COB Waterfront District EIS

Sat, Sep 28, 2013, 5:05 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The city and port have not addressed wildlife impacts from waterfront development and this should be done before a waterfront plan is enacted.


City Council Waterfront Work Sessions Begin

Mon, Sep 09, 2013, 12:07 am  //  Wendy Harris

The staff will be explaining the public's concerns, but the public is not allowed to testify.


Waterfront Planning Before City Council and Port Commission

Fri, Sep 06, 2013, 2:52 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Elected officials continue to rely on inaccurate and misleading reports by the city and port staff regarding waterfront development.


Bellingham Receives A Wake Up Call

Fri, Aug 16, 2013, 11:11 am  //  Wendy Harris

When the Bay stinks so bad that the public is calling 911, it is time to revisit waterfront redevelopment priorities

12 comments; last on Aug 19, 2013

Water Agreement Fails Scrutiny

Tue, Aug 13, 2013, 11:31 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The City of Bellingham memorandum of agreement with Lynden does not make sense. What is going on?

4 comments; last on Sep 10, 2013

Bellingham To Provide Water to Lynden

Fri, Aug 09, 2013, 8:42 pm  //  Wendy Harris

A conceptual agreement between COB and Lynden exchanges water for a new, but unneeded, water withdrawal site on the Middle Nooksack.

3 comments; last on Aug 10, 2013

Lake Whatcom Promoted As Secret Vacation Get-A-Way

Sun, Jul 28, 2013, 2:44 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Redevelopment of 14 acres along Lake Whatcom is contrary to the efforts to restore water quality.

1 comments; last on Jul 29, 2013

Meat Packinghouses and Berries: A Bad Combination

Sat, Jul 20, 2013, 3:53 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Proposed rezone of farm land to allow meat packinghouses will undermine the long term viability of our farm economy.

1 comments; last on Jul 23, 2013

Public Hearing on Amendment to the Bellingham SMP

Mon, Jul 08, 2013, 4:11 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The city would like to amend our city shoreline regulations to allow greater waterfront shoreline development.

1 comments; last on Jul 11, 2013

City Moves Forward With ASB Interim Trail Before Waterfront Plan Approval

Fri, Jul 05, 2013, 9:51 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Does Waterfront District planning, or public process, mean anything when it occurs subsequent to project development?

1 comments; last on Jul 06, 2013

Noise Issue Reflects Larger City Infill Problems

Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 7:02 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Bellingham needs to do a better job of protecting quality of life and health impacts that flow from infill

1 comments; last on Jul 18, 2013

County Attempting To Reduce Stormwater Standards in Birch Bay UGA

Tue, Jun 25, 2013, 10:10 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The County wants to exempt the Birch Bay UGA from the requirement to follow current version of stormwater standards in the DOE stormwater manual.


County Council Fails To Update Stormwater Standards For Lake Whatcom

Mon, Jun 24, 2013, 9:59 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The County Council fails to enact updated stormwater standards that are 2 1/2 years overdue.


Mayor Linville Raids City Budget Funds To Subsidize Private Development

Mon, Jun 17, 2013, 5:00 am  //  Wendy Harris

In 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.

4 comments; last on Jun 22, 2013

County Slaughterhouse Proposal Moves Closer to Enactment

Fri, May 31, 2013, 6:20 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Ideologically Stubborn Council Majority Ignores Existing Industrial Zoning for Slaughter and Meat Processing Operations

2 comments; last on Jun 01, 2013

The Myth of Waterfront Public Process

Thu, May 16, 2013, 11:55 am  //  Wendy Harris

The public process on the revised waterfront plans is an empty charade

1 comments; last on May 17, 2013

Watch What You Say, Bellingham

Wed, May 15, 2013, 10:23 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The political censor police are listening to you

5 comments; last on May 16, 2013

Notes From The City Planning Commission Meeting

Fri, May 10, 2013, 9:22 am  //  Wendy Harris

The City Planning Commission Advocates "Free Market Capitalism" Approach to Waterfront Planning.

1 comments; last on May 12, 2013

Silver Lake Geese Remain At Risk

Thu, May 09, 2013, 11:07 pm  //  Wendy Harris

A recent letter by the Parks Department fails to contain reassurance that the geese will be safe from extermination this year.


Herding Dogs May Be Too Late To Save Silver Lake Geese

Fri, May 03, 2013, 10:16 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The Humane Society is bringing herding dogs to control Silver Lake geese, but it is not an optimal situation for success.


Questioning County Park Funding Priorities

Wed, May 01, 2013, 10:31 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The 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

County Parks Department Releases “National Enquirer” Style Memo On Geese

Wed, Apr 24, 2013, 6:05 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The only urgency underscored by the Silver Lake geese is the urgency of enacting a comprehensive wildlife strategy.

4 comments; last on Apr 29, 2013

ACTION ALERT: Death Sentence Hangs Over Silver Lake Geese

Sat, Apr 20, 2013, 10:52 am  //  Wendy Harris

There 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

Waterfront Plans Fail to Protect Historic Buildings

Wed, Apr 10, 2013, 10:24 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The Waterfront District Sub-Area Plan needs policies that favor adaptive reuse and preservation of historic waterfront structures


City Proposes New Economic Development Policy

Sat, Apr 06, 2013, 1:06 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The city's proposed new Economic Development Chapter is based on an outdated economic theory

1 comments; last on Apr 06, 2013

County Slaughterhouse Rezone: Dumb and Dumber

Fri, Apr 05, 2013, 3:59 pm  //  Wendy Harris

New slaughterhouse proposal "wishes away" current agricultural zoning restrictions.

10 comments; last on Apr 21, 2013

The GPT Scoping Summary Report Released

Mon, Apr 01, 2013, 3:00 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Government agencies responsible for the GPT project have completed review of the scoping comments.


Coming Soon to the Waterfront: More Dioxin and Toxic Waste

Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 9:36 pm  //  Wendy Harris

A beneficial reuse provision in the Waterfront District Sub-Area Plan would allow construction materials that are contaminated with bioaccumulative toxins.


Waterfront “Planned Action Ordinance” Limits Restoration and Public Input

Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 8:59 pm  //  Wendy Harris

The City Planning Department has included a technical document in the waterfront proposal without disclosing important impacts.

1 comments; last on Mar 30, 2013

Troubling Implications of Variance Request

Fri, Mar 01, 2013, 4:19 pm  //  Wendy Harris

A 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

Waterfront EIS Revised Without Public Process

Tue, Feb 19, 2013, 9:40 pm  //  Wendy Harris

An "Updated Preferred Alternative" reduces the number of waterfront jobs and expands the boundary of the waterfront district.


Public Hearing on New Bellingham Economic Development Policy

Wed, Feb 13, 2013, 2:59 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Participate in the public process by commenting on the new Economic Development chapter to the city comprehensive plan

1 comments; last on Feb 15, 2013

The County Planning Commission is Broke

Wed, Jan 30, 2013, 12:09 am  //  Wendy Harris

The planning commission no longer serves its purpose due to Council's poor appointment choices

2 comments; last on Feb 10, 2013

Aquatic Invasive Species Plan for Lake Whatcom

Mon, Jan 28, 2013, 1:52 am  //  Wendy Harris

Improving ecosystem functions holistically is the best form of protection for the Lake Whatcom.

1 comments; last on Jan 28, 2013

EIS Scoping Period for GPT is Closed

Tue, Jan 22, 2013, 6:19 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Links to a few noteworthy GPT scoping comments .

1 comments; last on Jan 22, 2013

Is Noncompliance Addicting?

Fri, Jan 11, 2013, 1:35 pm  //  Wendy Harris

A proposed amendment to the Lake Whatcom watershed moratorium will increase water quality degradation

1 comments; last on Jan 12, 2013

Noncompliance 2013: The Game

Sun, Jan 06, 2013, 11:49 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Watch the Whatcom County Council wiggle its way out of the latest round of GMA compliance requirements for Lake Whatcom

1 comments; last on Jul 27, 2013


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