Bham Planning Director - Rick Sepler Chosen

• Topics: Bellingham, Open Government,

Thur, Oct 9

The city has posted their press release on the hiring of Rick Sepler.

Wed, Oct 8 - 6:25 pm

Mayor Kelli Linville has phoned and confirmed the article is correct and Rick Sepler is our new Bellingham planning director. There will be a formal announcement on Thursday.

Wed, Oct 8 - 5:30 pm

So we went through the day with the mayor's office first not taking my calls, then not returning them and finally refusing to confirm or deny that Rick Sepler has been hired. All her admin assistant will say is they will announce on Thursday morning.

Wed, Oct 8 - 9 am

Rick Sepler has been chosen as the new Planning and Community Development Director for Bellingham, according to a reliable source. We await the mayor's formal announcement on this, expected either today or Thursday. She made the decision on Monday but in a phone call to her office on Tuesday, I was told a decision had not yet been made. Everyone at city hall already knows this morning. This post will probably encourage an announcement today.

In my opinion, she made the best choice in Rick Sepler. As you can read below, he is presently the planning director for Port Townsend. In his brief presentation of himself last Thursday he showed a belief in quality of residential living and a desire to adhere to the environmental and living values of Bellingham residents. This bodes for better working with neighborhoods and less cozyness with the developers. Lets hope.

Note - I corrected the date of the meet and greet after posting this Oct 8 morning.

Thursday, Oct 2 - below posted as original post - with title that selection “Was Near”

This afternoon, Bellingham city hall hosted a cozy Meet & Greet for selected “stakeholders” and the three finalists for the open position of Bellingham Planning and Community Development Director. Former director Jeff Thomas resigned in June and took the position in Sammamish down near Bellevue.

The new director is expected to be named soon - possibly tomorrow - by Mayor Kelli Linville. The position does not need council approval. Once appointed, the new director is expected to start immediately.

There are three final candidates. First is Derek Long of Bellingham, well known for co-founding Sustainable Connections and his years of work with the organization. Second is Kurt Creager, currently a housing developer in Clark County. He has worked as a planner for Yakima, as a member of King County development and planning, and as a lobbyist in Olympia. Third is Rick Sepler who is presently Director of Development Services for Port Townsend. He has experience as a planning consultant and is also an instructor for planning at the University of Washington.

Kurt and Rick are professional planners, with multiple degrees and extensive experience, and my guess is we will see one of them appointed by the mayor. The mayor will read the evaluations and comments by the approximately 40 people who attended. As I looked over the room it seemed more than half were city and county employees, with the rest from the local development and building community. Several local elected officials from the city and county were also present. Even a couple rural fire department employees - but why is beyond me. A cozy meeting with virtually everyone knowing everyone else. Hardly a meeting involving concerned citizens.

Legally speaking, the mayor can appoint anyone and is not required to have any public meet and greet. While I was told the general public was invited, I have yet to learn how. But if a meet and greet is held for the public, it only makes sense that the public has to be invited in order for it all to work. Maybe I’m missing something.

We’ll attempt to learn who is appointed our new city planner tomorrow and post it up. I saw no other reporters at the meeting. I only wish I had more time to follow these processes and inform the public earlier on what is happening.

About John Servais

Citizen Journalist and Editor • 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

Mike Rostron

Oct 07, 2014

Bellingham’s planning director job title should be changed to “Development Facilitator,” “Developer Encourager,” or something which more accurately describes the position. Another accurate job description would be: “Neighborhood Scourge.” Judging by the links, Kurt seems perfect for the position. Maybe the city can buy him another Hummer using the extra property taxes collected from home owners to finance the development (destruction) of their neighborhoods.


Walter Haugen

Oct 08, 2014

In regards to Kurt Creager: I guess this is the kind of education you get at the JFK School of Gubbmint at Hah!vard. He should have gone to Portland State like me. (Like it says right on my diploma: Doctrina Urbi Serviat - let knowledge serve the city.)

Of course this would be good advice for a LOT of city officials and staff.


Hue Beattie

Oct 09, 2014

In forty years of city interest this Department has been split up and recombined many times. But improvement is another story. If they would just accept that what is good for the neighborhood is good for the city. We would have a less contentious time and a more liveable city.


Barbara Perry

Oct 10, 2014

Altho I don’t know enough about Rick Sepler to say much,  I do remember when he ran to become a Board Member for the Port Townsend Food Coop PTFC). [ I was often in PT taking care of my elderly mother.] I remember hearing that many people who worked for the city—his co-workers—and who were members of the PT Food Coop came out in mass to vote for him.  Hopefully that is a good sign.

Maybe we Bellingham citizens can help by passing the wonderful PT law that says the ends of roads may not be sold.  Citizens in PT did not like developers grabbing land the end of streets with great views and sometimes beach access.  Citizens could no longer appreciate these dead ends.

Does anyone like that horrible ‘whatever it will be’ cutting the views of anyone traveling thru Fairhaven? It uses property at the end of a street.

I sure wish a law like PT ‘s were created in Bellingham and/or Whatcom County.  It is probably too late for having much effect but I know there are a couple spots left at the ends of roads.

PT is a notoriously progressive community, but they, like Bellingham, are being populated by wealthy conservatives. However, they have passed some good laws like the one above and another that said no more than one corporate business would be allowed in the city and signs had to fit the neighboring business and not be too large.

I would love to know what Rick Sepler thinks about these laws.


Mike Rostron

Oct 11, 2014

Ultimately we need to pass legislation in the city that gives veto rights to neighborhoods on any larger scale development or zoning changes. Protecting the rights of the people who already live here must take precedence over planning for people who may or may not move here. Hue is right, if neighborhoods are protected, the city as a whole will be more livable. Of course some areas are already effectively destroyed, as is our potable water source. They serve as examples of the effects of encouraging developer interests over resident’s quality of life. Perhaps that would be a good use of the GP site—as a cautionary example. Make it into a park of sorts—an example of what will happen if we let corporate and pro-growth interests control planning and development.

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