Action Alert for Tonight: Waterfront Wildlife and Habitat ThreatenedPermalink +
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. http://www.nwcitizen.com/entry/action-alert-for-tonight-waterfront-wildlife-and-habitat-not-being-protecte
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.
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 10:43 am // Wendy HarrisThe public needs to support city council and request that a waterfront habitat assessment include terrestrial species and habitat connectivity.
Tue, Apr 01, 2014, 12:27 pm // Wendy HarrisPlease help us protect county wildlife by ensuring that the scope of the EIS review is adequate. A sample scoping letter is included.
Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 1:23 am // Wendy HarrisThe public has a week to comment on the scope of issues reviewed under the EIS.
Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 12:32 am // Wendy HarrisOn 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
Sun, Mar 16, 2014, 11:52 pm // Wendy HarrisThe 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
Mon, Feb 24, 2014, 3:33 pm // Wendy HarrisWe 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.
Sat, Feb 22, 2014, 12:16 am // Wendy HarrisAccepting the Paul deArmond award of citizen journalism on Feb 7, Wendh Harris gave this speech. We think it deserves its own post.
Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 9:35 pm // Wendy HarrisThe 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
Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 2:36 pm // Wendy HarrisCostco imposes indirect costs on our community that are as real and tangible as road construction expenses.
1 comments; last on Feb 13, 2014
Sat, Feb 01, 2014, 12:35 am // Wendy HarrisFiling 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
Fri, Dec 20, 2013, 3:56 pm // Wendy HarrisA 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
Tue, Dec 17, 2013, 12:21 am // Wendy HarrisArmy Corps advised DOE that it will not issue a waterfront permit without Lummi approval
2 comments; last on Jan 13, 2014
Sat, Dec 07, 2013, 12:33 pm // Wendy HarrisLocal 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
Fri, Dec 06, 2013, 11:03 pm // Wendy HarrisThe county will be required to consider water quality and water quantity when planning rural growth.
3 comments; last on Dec 10, 2013
Sat, Nov 30, 2013, 8:11 pm // Wendy HarrisThe waterfront plan allows a development bonus for payments made to the Lake Whatcom land acquisition fund
1 comments; last on Dec 01, 2013
Fri, Nov 29, 2013, 9:43 pm // Wendy HarrisA 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
Fri, Nov 22, 2013, 9:01 pm // Wendy HarrisIf the port can not construct the airport safely, should it be entrusted with dangerous waterfront cleanup work?
Wed, Nov 13, 2013, 3:16 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city adminstration has been providing misleading/ incorrect information to the city council to avoid waterfront plan revisions.
1 comments; last on Nov 18, 2013
Sat, Nov 09, 2013, 9:47 pm // Wendy HarrisThe 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
Tue, Oct 15, 2013, 2:46 pm // Wendy HarrisRequesting waterfront handouts for the Overwater Walkway while proclaiming autonomy from further public review is unjustifiable.
2 comments; last on Oct 16, 2013
Tue, Oct 08, 2013, 2:22 pm // Wendy HarrisThe 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
Wed, Oct 02, 2013, 10:19 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city administration asserts that there is no gap in waterplant plant and animal analysis
Wed, Oct 02, 2013, 10:01 pm // Wendy HarrisBellingham 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
Sat, Sep 28, 2013, 5:05 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city and port have not addressed wildlife impacts from waterfront development and this should be done before a waterfront plan is enacted.
Mon, Sep 09, 2013, 12:07 am // Wendy HarrisThe staff will be explaining the public's concerns, but the public is not allowed to testify.
Fri, Sep 06, 2013, 2:52 pm // Wendy HarrisElected officials continue to rely on inaccurate and misleading reports by the city and port staff regarding waterfront development.
Fri, Aug 16, 2013, 11:11 am // Wendy HarrisWhen 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
Tue, Aug 13, 2013, 11:31 pm // Wendy HarrisThe City of Bellingham memorandum of agreement with Lynden does not make sense. What is going on?
4 comments; last on Sep 10, 2013
Fri, Aug 09, 2013, 8:42 pm // Wendy HarrisA 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
Sun, Jul 28, 2013, 2:44 pm // Wendy HarrisRedevelopment of 14 acres along Lake Whatcom is contrary to the efforts to restore water quality.
1 comments; last on Jul 29, 2013
Sat, Jul 20, 2013, 3:53 pm // Wendy HarrisProposed 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
Mon, Jul 08, 2013, 4:11 pm // Wendy HarrisThe city would like to amend our city shoreline regulations to allow greater waterfront shoreline development.
1 comments; last on Jul 11, 2013
Fri, Jul 05, 2013, 9:51 pm // Wendy HarrisDoes Waterfront District planning, or public process, mean anything when it occurs subsequent to project development?
1 comments; last on Jul 06, 2013
Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 7:02 pm // Wendy HarrisBellingham 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
Tue, Jun 25, 2013, 10:10 pm // Wendy HarrisThe County wants to exempt the Birch Bay UGA from the requirement to follow current version of stormwater standards in the DOE stormwater manual.
Mon, Jun 24, 2013, 9:59 pm // Wendy HarrisThe County Council fails to enact updated stormwater standards that are 2 1/2 years overdue.
Mon, Jun 17, 2013, 5:00 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.
4 comments; last on Jun 22, 2013
Fri, May 31, 2013, 6:20 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, 11:55 am // Wendy HarrisThe public process on the revised waterfront plans is an empty charade
1 comments; last on May 17, 2013
Wed, May 15, 2013, 10:23 pm // Wendy HarrisThe political censor police are listening to you
5 comments; last on May 16, 2013
Fri, May 10, 2013, 9:22 am // Wendy HarrisThe City Planning Commission Advocates "Free Market Capitalism" Approach to Waterfront Planning.
1 comments; last on May 12, 2013
Thu, May 09, 2013, 11:07 pm // 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, 10:16 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, 10:31 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, 6:05 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, 10:52 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, 10:24 pm // Wendy HarrisThe Waterfront District Sub-Area Plan needs policies that favor adaptive reuse and preservation of historic waterfront structures
Sat, Apr 06, 2013, 1:06 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, 3:59 pm // Wendy HarrisNew slaughterhouse proposal "wishes away" current agricultural zoning restrictions.
10 comments; last on Apr 21, 2013
Mon, Apr 01, 2013, 3:00 pm // Wendy HarrisGovernment agencies responsible for the GPT project have completed review of the scoping comments.
Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 9:36 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, 8:59 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, 4:19 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, 9:40 pm // Wendy HarrisAn "Updated Preferred Alternative" reduces the number of waterfront jobs and expands the boundary of the waterfront district.
Wed, Feb 13, 2013, 2:59 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, 12:09 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, 1:52 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, 6:19 pm // Wendy HarrisLinks to a few noteworthy GPT scoping comments .
1 comments; last on Jan 22, 2013
Fri, Jan 11, 2013, 1:35 pm // Wendy HarrisA proposed amendment to the Lake Whatcom watershed moratorium will increase water quality degradation
1 comments; last on Jan 12, 2013
Sun, Jan 06, 2013, 11:49 pm // Wendy HarrisWatch 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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