Feb 12 election:  Bham Southside Only

By John ServaisOn Jan 24, 2013

Here is some of the basic information on the election on creating a Metro Park District in south Bellingham. It is not easy to learn what and who is on the ballot and who they are. Our Auditor election page tends to bury issues in a very orderly way. There is no online voters guide for the 9 candidates for the commission offices. There is no date for when the ballots are mailed. I phoned the Auditor office and was told the ballots are mailed tomorrow, Friday, Jan 25.

Above is a pdf of the ballot - as taken from the Auditor Election page.

Here is a link to what passes as the online voters guide - which is about the yes or no to create the Park District. Nothing online about the candidates. I am inviting all 9 candidates to feel free to submit a statement and photo of themselves and I will post them here - and allow comments to each statement. The proponents show the statements of 6 candidates and state that only these candidates agree to some terms. So I really would like to get the statements from the three other candidates.

Here is a link to the proponents website

http://www.chuckanutcommunityforest.com

Update: A Facebook page has existed for the Park advocates. Unfortunately, they do not provide a link to it from their website. Here it is. Some interesting info is there.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Chuckanut-Community-Forest/275523269202406

Update: here is link to one website in opposition.

http://www.chuckanutcommunityforestmpd.org/index.html

Here is the Auditor's Election web page.

https://wei.sos.wa.gov/county/whatcom/en/Pages/default.aspx

Click here to download a pdf file of the ballot - as is found on the Auditor's website.

I live on the south side and will be voting on this issue and for 5 of the candidates. If passed, I'll be paying a minimum of $800 in taxes over the next 10 years for this one measure. I am very interested myself to learn more before voting.

I may add to this article if more links or basic info seems appropriate.

And I invite all the 9 candidates to submit statements.

About John Servais

Writers • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

Frank James

Jan 24, 2013

It is time to put an end to fear mongering and misrepresentation. Here are the simple and accurate facts about the Chuckanut Community Forest and the Metropolitan Park District that will facilitate it’s final acquisition.

1.  The City of Bellingham owns the Chuckanut Community Forest and will continue to do so.
2.  The Parks Department currently manages the Chuckanut Community Forest and will continue to do so.
3.  The MPD will obtain a conservation easements protecting the property in return for providing the funds to pay the debt incurred by the City in the purchase of it.
4.  The assessment will be limited to a property tax of .28 per $1000 of assessed property value per year which will pay off the entire loan.
5.  Once the debt has been paid, the commissioners will dissolve the Park District.

None of this is a mystery or sinister or illegal or immoral. It has been the will of the vast majority in our community for years.

Exaggerations about the intent and facts are unfortunate and inappropriate and appear to be the desperate acts of those long committed to the development of the property some of whom have already benefited from or stand to personally benefit from construction on the site.

In canvasing the neighborhoods that will vote volunteers have found overwhelming support for the measure. One day of 125 people reached only 3 opposed the project and on another of 45 people contacted 4 did not support it. If all 1700 people that signed the petition to put it on the ballot vote for it, it will easily pass.

The ballots will be in your mailboxes this week. Fill them out and turn them in now.

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Christopher Grannis

Jan 25, 2013

John, thanks for bringing this issue and links to information about this issue to NW Citizen. I urge readers to go to http://www.chuckanutcommunityforest.com to learn about the proposed Park District and especially the statements of the candidates for Park District Commissioners. Six candidates have been fighting for years to preserve from development Chuckanut Ridge, now known as the Chuckanut Community Forest. They are Cathy McKenzie position 1, Dan Remsen or John Hymas position 2, Susan Kaun position 3, Vince Biciunas position 4, and John Brown position 5.
Christopher

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John Servais

Jan 25, 2013

Frank,  your comment perhaps belongs under some other article.  I fail to see where I presented any “fear mongering or misrepresentation” in my article.  Or are you just plastering up stuff anywhere?

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Delaine Clizbe

Jan 25, 2013

John, Thank you for posting information about this proposed Metropolitan Park District.  Your readers may find useful information on my website www.chuckanutcommunityforestmpd.org   Proponents do not want to talk too much about what a Metropolitan Park District is.  It is not fear mongering to suggest that folks educate themselves on what it is they are voting on.  I urge folks to read RCW 35.61 before they vote. 

I have spent very little time collecting signatures on my petition.  However, about 90% of the folks I talk to agree to sign.  Proponents of this plan live in a bit of a vacuum in that they have been so involved in this land purchase that they have lost touch with what the rest of the town thinks. 

My hope is that folks vote no on Propostion 1.  And then write City Council and request they formulate another plan that does not involve another tax.

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Larry Horowitz

Jan 25, 2013

Delaine,

Your website indicates that you own multi-family housing in the district.

Your website also has a tab that asks, “Do you live in this district?”

Do you live in this district?

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John Servais

Jan 25, 2013

Larry, interesting that you bring up the question of whether Delaine lives in the district.  Of course, the intent of your question is to marginalize her opinions if she does not live in the district.  And, you being as good as I on the computer, probably spent the minute required to learn she lives outside the district. 

But, Larry, do you know what business interests she may have “in the district”?  I doubt it.  And yet, if she does own property in the district then she will be paying tax on that - even though she lives outside the district.  This is called taxation without representation. 

I would be willing to bet that a third to half the value of property that will be taxed for the park district is owned by folks who live outside the district - and do not get to vote on this issue.  Commercial properties will be paying.  Now, I have not heard any of them complaining about any unfairness.  But I point out this fact because you, Larry, are trying to make an issue of where people live without considering other factors.

If you want to make where a person lives a criteria for judging how credible their opinion is, then perhaps i should post up a map with the locations of the homes of the proponents.  Who is trying to get the rest of us to enhance their property values?  With our taxes. 

Larry, you are inviting a rebuttal that you will not like and may hurt your cause.

One last thing.  I would hope a person could post a comment on NWCitizen without the risk of someone phoning them at home to harass them.

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Larry Horowitz

Jan 25, 2013

John,

Please relax and take a deep breath.  I called Delaine several days ago, well before she posted a comment on your blog. I called her to simply let her know that information on her blog was not accurate.  She subsequently corrected the information. 

As far as asking if she lived in the district, didn’t Geyer ask me the same question?  I don’t recall you suggesting it was inappropriate for Geyer to do so.

I don’t know what business interests Delaine has in the district other than the fact that she owns multi-family housing as she posted on her website and I referred to in my previous comment.

For those who do have rental property in the district, it is likely the purpose is to generate income or long-term capital gain.  In other words, to generate a profit.  Being good business people, they generally charge an adequate rental to more than cover their costs.  Many landlords have already claimed they plan to raise their rents ever so slightly to cover the levy associated with the park district, so the actual cost of the levy is paid for by their tenants, not by the property owners themselves.  As I mentioned before, the average apartment in Padden Creek will be assessed $15 per year or $1.25 per month.

Delaine has claimed that she has already paid for the purchase of this land and does not want to pay for it again.  If in fact her tenants have actually paid the prior Greenways levy and will pay the park district levy, then is her claim really legitimate?

It is my understanding that Delaine lives outside of the city and does not pay the Greenways levy on her residence.  I don’t know this for a fact, but Delaine has every opportunity to verify if my understanding is correct.

Again, Delaine and Geyer are the ones who have raised the issue about living in the district and paying the levy.  Since the issue has already been raised, is it inappropriate to follow up on that?

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John Servais

Jan 25, 2013

The exchange suggested that you called in response to her post.  So I retract my use of the word harass.

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Delaine Clizbe

Jan 26, 2013

Mr. Horowitz,  I do not in fact live in the district.  I have not hidden that fact and have had the fact that I own rental housing in the district on my website from day one.  I’m a little smarter than you give me credit.  I knew very well this would be an argument against my opinion which is why I went with full disclosure from the beginning. 

Furthermore, I do not even live within the City limits.  Gasp!  However, I did previously live within the City limits and did pay into the Greenways 1 2 and 3 levy’s on my personal residence.  So yes, I did pay for this land.

You are correct in that the cost per month that my two duplexes located at the bottom of 21st Street will pay is small. (yes, two small duplexes!  wow! what a rich landlord I am!)  You are correct that I could very well pass that cost on to my tenants.  However, the decision on whether to pass that cost on is not solely mine.  In rental housing there is a general market price that renters are willing to pay.  At some point, if rents are too high renters can not afford your rental and will choose to do business elsewhere.

You are incorrect in your assumption that I stand to somehow “profit” from my opposition to this Metropolitan Park District.  Rental housing does operate in somewhat of a supply and demand market.  The BEST scenario for a rental housing owner in this district would be that no more Multi-Family housing be built in the area.  Reducing the supply of housing makes my property more valuable and allows me to charge more rent.  I have advocated for just the opposite.  I have suggested a small portion of the land be sold and more multi-family dwellings be built.  Yes, that proves me to be an evil land baroness!

Finally, the question about the phone call.  When a man I do not know calls me out of the blue and is yelling at me that I am wrong, I am within my right to hang up!  You invaded my space and I felt threatened by that.  After I had googled your name and found out who you were I did call you back and apologize for hanging up on you.  In the future, you may want to think about your tactics.  I made changes to my website because I have little time to argue semantics! 

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Larry Horowitz

Jan 26, 2013

Delaine,

If you feel I was “yelling” at you, then I apologize; however, I am confident I did not.  When I called I simply told you I was calling about your website.  You immediately became defensive and asked “How did you get my number?”  I explained that you were listed in the phone book, but your website did not provide any other way to contact you.

On your website, you had claimed that the $4.5 million Greenways III funds used to acquire Chuckanut Ridge represented the entire amount of Greenways III revenues.  I called to let you know that the GWIII levy was a $40 million levy, which you denied and told me I was “grasping at straws.”

I don’t believe it’s semantics to claim that the Greenways III funds used to acquire Chuckanut Ridge represented all the funds paid in by every citizen.

Next time someone calls to help you, perhaps you won’t get so defensive.  I chose not to go public with your inaccurate information but instead to call you privately so you could correct it.

You’re welcome!

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Delaine Clizbe

Jan 26, 2013

Mr. Horowitz, being that you are not a female you are probably not familiar with what it feels like to have a man you do not know call and yell at you.  Yes you were yelling.  Sorry you do not have a right to control my perception.

Let me give you this scenario.  Say I just purchased a new expensive mountain bike. In a conversation to a friend I may say something like “I’m not sure how I will pay my power bill this month as I just spent ALL my money on my new mountain bike”.  The friend would not assume I meant that I had spent all the money I had ever earned in my life on that mountain bike.  Rather he would assume that I had just drained my current checkbook. 

This is exactly the intent with the reference to ALL the Greenways III money.  To me when you have to borrow money to finish the deal then you did indeed spend ALL the money.  So yes you were grasping at straws but I did go ahead and rephrase my statement as I do not intend to mislead anyone.

And you could have contacted me via a private message on the Facebook link on the website:)

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Larry Horowitz

Jan 26, 2013

You are certainly entitled to your ‘perception’, which I have no intention of trying to control.

And we can agree to disagree:)

As far as contacting you via Facebook, please understand that not everyone uses Facebook.  Reviewing your website again, it is not clear at all how anyone would contact you via email.  The small Facebook logo is probably not enough for many people who may visit your site. 

Again, please accept my apology for contacting you by phone and rest assured I will never do so again.

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Delaine Clizbe

Jan 26, 2013

Yes we can agree to disagree!:)

Have a good day Mr. Horowitz!

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Delaine Clizbe

Jan 26, 2013

P.S.  Here are two contact emails.  nocommunityforestmpd@gmail   or my personal email delaine918@gmail

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Alex McLean

Jan 31, 2013

Frank James makes a few comments, way up there before the asinine jibberish took over, which I would like to address.

James direct quote:

“None of this is a mystery or sinister or illegal or immoral. It has been the will of the vast majority in our community for years.

Exaggerations about the intent and facts are unfortunate and inappropriate and appear to be the desperate acts of those long committed to the development of the property some of whom have already benefited from or stand to personally benefit from construction on the site.”

My response is as follows;

To say, rather petulantly and with more than a hint of the nearly cult-like righteousness that has plagued the proponents’ comments so far, that “none of this is a mystery” is actually false. It is a mystery. We have never had a Parks District imposed upon us before and, jeepers Frank, not all of us cuddle up to wine and cheese sessions with the commissioners for intimate chit-chat about their moral fiber and intentions: these people will be able to pay themselves, condemn property, increase their stated tax imposition, and yet, according to you, we should shut up and swallow the pill without any debate—even just mere pondering—of how this thing could go sideways on us. Perhaps it is not “illegal and immoral.” I, personally, have no doubt that some of these folks are saturated with honorable intentions. Still, 10 years is a long, long, time. Three commissioners, with this much authority to get jiggy with my money, is a few, few, people. I’ll eat my dog’s dinner if all the same people we vote for are still on this commissioner roster a decade hence. I’ll barf it up and eat it again if these new folks, who we REALLY know are a mystery, resist the urge to pay themselves or, ooops!, increase the tax. (It is a hollow wager: my dog eats really good kibble.)

The next execrable claim that you smear upon us opponents is that we, again, need to shut the Hell up with our “exaggerations” and “desperate acts” since it is we who are, actually, “committed to the development of the property.”

I’ll happily rub my hippie credentials against the best in this town, Frank. I had the yard signs up (when they were red) and I attended the boisterous meetings, and I probably even threw a meager lump of cash into the hat for the original effort to save this forest.

The problem with this MPD isn’t that it protects the forest, it is HOW it protects the forest.

I think many will agree that the scandalous and absurd zoning drove our support of the cause. Thankfully, and thanks to the relentless efforts of many of the proponents of this MPD, that is no longer an “apples-to-apples” case—the City of Bellingham has full control of this property now. If City Council members ever grow the spine to rezone it, it could be a very minor impact—perhaps a 5-acre boutique hotel plot or a cluster of dense and affordable housing, or, as has already been proposed elsewhere, the development rights could be transferred, sold, and some other, far less wealthy, neighborhood could absorb the pain of growth.

My gripe with this MPD isn’t that it wants to save some trees on the fringe of a dense urban area (even if literally thousands of acres of trees are directly connected to this amorphous and un-mapped sector of the property) or that they wish to make Greenways whole again (which is already codified by the fact that this property, according to the directive of the Finance Committee, acts as collateral to the loan.) My gripe is that this MPD has CHOSEN to stretch into Happy Valley, to dredge the wallets of the most densely populated neighborhood in Bellingham, to finance the very expensive re-purchasing of a very small tract of land that, dammit, is nearly THREE MILES AWAY from us.

The Happy Valley Neighborhood park is a shaved postage stamp snuggled betwixt a co-housing complex and a creek. Can anyone among the proponents seriously claim that my $800-$1,200 dollars benefits me, here in Happy Valley, as I sit crammed next to the roaring freeway and the lumbering march of condos and apartment towers.

The only honest answer is that it will not, in any significant or meaningful way, improve my life if I “bail out” the wealthiest neighborhoods in the county so that they can have a development firewall—a literal mountain of trees—protecting them from seeing any icky neighbors poking around Arbor Crest Gorgeous View Drive. This is an economic justice argument that proponents have already answered, in public, by shrugging and saying: “Yep—we decided to go for Happy Valley simply because we wanted to drive down the costs on individuals we are going to tap for this tax.”

Screw that. The Southside has already suffered from a Greenways moratorium on all purchases south of Whatcom Creek—imposed until Chuckanut Ridge was resolved and bought—and yet now we are being asked to chum up our money to buy the same trees twice. They are still nearly three miles away, Frank, and, since nobody can argue that the purchase has not, already, ensured viable trials and recreation, these piddling extra acres will do precisely nothing to improve our lives in Happy Valley while, simultaneously, doing a whole lot to our wallets.

Throw you petulant indignation wherever you wish. Call me a pawn of developers, or a Satan worshipper, or whatever. But don’t tell me that I’ve no cause for concern or resentment—or outright opposition—as this turd is gets forced down my throat. It is an imperfect plan, hastily crafted, one can suppose, to troll for those WWU students who registered here for Obama and marijuana votes, and I think there is much here worthy of hesitation even if, as you claim, there was no malice behind the effort itself.

(Gotta hand it to you, however, the 20 years that have been used to fight for this property have created one Hell of a political interest group! Too bad none of that money spent on signs and fliers and mailings and ballot applications could have been used to, well, you know, help pay for the property or something. :)

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