Extracting Profit and Destroying Experience: The Waterfront Plan

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Tue, May 27, 2014, 12:23 am  //  Wendy Harris

There is very little to like about the COB waterfront plan, as far as substance or procedure.  And this, I believe, results from looking at the waterfront from an outdated economic paradigm where the focus is on extracting local experience.  According to research, today's tourist wants to spend money on an authentic and enhanced local experience.

Instead of giving up our public tidelands and access to water in exchange for crappy, dense, environmentally harmful shoreline development, more roads, traffic and blocked public views, we could have developed the nearshore and shoreline as an eco-tourism Mecca.

How practical is this?  According to WDFW, very.  Wildlife viewing is the #1 outdoor activity in the U.S., and the fastest growing form of recreation, exceeding hiking, skiing and golfing.  By necessity, it largely occurs on public land. WDFW concludes that wildlife watching is an untapped economic resource.

Over $1.7 billion is spent annually in Washington on wildlife watching activities, mostly in rural areas, supporting more than 21,000 jobs, making it second only to Boeing, and 5.2 times larger than Microsoft's employment in Washington. Wildlife watching yields $426.9 million in job income and generates $56.9 million in state and $67.4 million in federal tax revenues each year.

Compared to commodities, money spent on wildlife watching is second only to the combined value of all field crops. Its value is larger than the value of livestock; and larger than the combined value of all fruits, nuts and berries produced annually! 

We had the largest breeding colony of Caspian terns on the North American coast a few years ago. I say "had" because the port harassed the birds away from the waterfront site. (The same one we were told had zero ecological function so that any development was a net gain.) While they were here, people were traveling, by word of mouth alone, to see the birds, and scientists from Oregon came here to study them. 

How many urban creeks support spawning salmon, and the stealth harbor seals that slip in to take a big bite out of what a recreational fisherman has caught? Frustration for fisherman translates into delight for tourists, and more work for locals. And few shoreline parks allow people to observe harlequin ducks, Barrow's goldeneye, and playful otters within a relatively close range. 

We could have developed the waterfront as a natural shoreline, a sight more rare and precious than the usual waterfront development one finds in Puget Sound. The waterfront was already publicly owned, and we were already obligated to cleanup the contaminated sites.  We could have protected wildlife and habitat and provided the public with the parks they desired, all at a significantly reduced cost... so reduced, in fact, that no fire sale to developers would have been needed.  And perhaps that is exactly why this option was never on the table. 

How do you spell "missed opportunity?"

Dick Conoboy  //  Tue, May 27, 2014, 9:26 am

This article reminds me of my visit this Memorial Day weekend to the area around Monterrey, CA.  People flock to what used to be “Cannery Row” to visit shops selling cheap souvenirs and tacky clothing and dine (?) out at such wonderful places as Bubba Gump’s shrimp restaurant. At least they had the decency not to name the place Bubba Steinbeck’s.  The only saving grace is the Monterrey Aquarium.  Perhaps Bubba can set up shop here and peddle his “jumbo shrimp” in the shadow of the Granary Building.

Helen Brandt  //  Tue, May 27, 2014, 4:42 pm

Right on Wendy! My friends’ (transplanted escapees from southern California) favorite activity is walking the Squalicum Harbor dock and web locker areas to watch the fishing people working. Have we noticed how people gravitate to the undeveloped beach areas at the end of Cornwall Avenue and at Squalicum beach?  They sit staring out at the water and islands, watch the ducks, geese and seals, or walk at low tide looking for interesting items. Why would travelers from the land-locked Midwest want to spend their precious vacation time around high-rise condos, densely clustered upscale stores or hotels (think Bellwether) when they could watch real fishing and crabbing people at work. And have quiet space to watch the bay, wildlife, clouds and islands. Bellingham would be smart to not imitate other over-developed waterfront cities. The potential here is unique.

Tip Johnson  //  Sat, Jun 07, 2014, 9:06 pm

Don’t get me started on the waterfront plan.  It is an abject fraud that I seriously think a several folk ought to go to jail or at least lose their jobs over.

However, Wendy, I find you maybe the most valuable community resources for work like this.  You know where to find the line and are not afraid to cross it to make your points.  Obviously, that is going to draw some fire from time to time.

I hope you are circumspect enough to consider the source(s) and let the riff-raff’s drivel roll off your back like a well-preened duck.  Thanks again!

George Dyson  //  Mon, Jun 09, 2014, 3:17 pm

Not to mention that by de-authorizing Whatcom Waterway, we are rendering downtown bellingham forever inaccessible to the deep-draft (and even medium-draft) sailing vessels (and future hybrids)  that enabled downtown Bellingham to thrive in the first place, and, given the opportunity, might have done so again.

Barbara Perry  //  Wed, Jun 11, 2014, 2:52 pm

I agree with Helen Brandt:  “Right on Wendy!”  and Tip Johnson: “…Wendy, I find you maybe the most valuable community resources for work like this. “

You clearly state what I, as a life time Washington and Whatcom resident have always felt: “…we could [should] have developed the nearshore and shoreline as an eco-tourism Mecca…”
However Now we must look at ”…crappy, dense, environmentally harmful shoreline development, more roads, traffic and blocked public views.” 
Unfortunately, your words are too true for most of our council members to heed.
Thank you Northwest Citizen for publishing Wendy’s important articles.  I hear and hope Council members read NW Citizen and heed more of Wendy’s ecological advice

Extracting Profit and Destroying Experience: The Waterfront Plan

Tue, May 27, 2014, 12:23 am  //  Wendy Harris

Why was so little consideration given to the concept of developing the waterfront for eco-tourism?

5 comments; last on Jun 11, 2014

How Park Improvements Generate Heat

Mon, May 26, 2014, 6:51 pm  //  Wendy Harris

City park improvements have implications on the local and global scale.

2 comments; last on May 29, 2014

The Trojan Slaughterhouse and the Scrivener’s Errors

Sun, May 18, 2014, 10:57 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Reckless rezones and far-fetched explanations result in more slaughterhouses and meat packing plants

3 comments; last on May 20, 2014

Bellingham’s 2013 Water Quality Report: The Facts But Not the Truth

Tue, May 13, 2014, 4:04 pm  //  Wendy Harris

Bellingham's annual water quality report indicates that city hall's propoganda machine is going strong

1 comments; last on May 14, 2014

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.


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 11, 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


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