CityView Private Student Dormitory Complex Gains Conditional Approval

Yet another un-affordable rental complex for Bellingham as we slide down the razor blade of housing affordability.

Yet another un-affordable rental complex for Bellingham as we slide down the razor blade of housing affordability.


Its been almost three years since the private dormitory complex called CityView was presented to the Puget Neighborhood. Recently, the developer, Morgan Bartlett, (dba* Madrona Bay Real Estate Investments, LLC) has received conditional approval of his plans for a 106 bed apartment complex. It has been designed expressly to house 318 students in three bedroom/three bath apartments. Bedrooms are to be rented by separate leases. In a 39 page decision from the city's planning department, Bartlett was given approval, but it is weighted with conditions. Pages 31 to 38 of the approval document spell out those conditions, but I will leave it to the reader to parse them. Warning: It is seven dull pages of a true soporific. (I mean no offense to its authors however, whose job is to write such officialese.)  

The public has 14 days to appeal this decision, which is a ridiculous and risible amount of time given the complexities. Just a glance at the entirety of the documentation behind this project would bring on heart failure in the sturdiest of attorneys (in the link, scroll down to the notice). Public comment was very robust and its effects can be seen in some portions of the conditional approval. Unfortunately, robust citizen comments did not result in project disapproval.     

PDP2019-0015 DR2019-0036 CAP2019-0037 SEP2019-0039 4413 Consolidation Ave 

Neighborhood(s) Puget 

Project Number(s) PDP2019-0015 DR2019-0036 CAP2019-0037 SEP2019-0039

Project Street 4413 Consolidation Ave


    FINAL CityView Consolidated Permit 4 19 2022.pdf

    Attachment A - Application materials.pdf

    Attachment A.1 - CityView Site Plan - amended 9-30-21.pdf

    Attachment A.2 - Preliminary Bld Ele Floor Plans.pdf

    Attachment A.3 - Height Limitation Area.pdf

    Attachment B _SEP2019-0039 FINAL MDNS for Issuance 2-9-2022.pdf

    Attachment B _SEP2019-0039-FINAL-SEPA-Report-for-CityView-MDNS-2-8-2022.pdf

    Attachment B Ex. A SEPA Checklist 2021 03 15.pdf

    Attachment B Ex. A.1 CityView Critical Areas Report.pdf

    Attachment B Ex. A.10 Updated CityView Preliminary Engineering 3-4-21.pdf

    Attachment B Ex. A.11 Project Engineer RFI response 3-4-21.pdf

    Attachment B Ex. A.12 Parking Demand Analysis (NunesUeno, September 2021).pdf

    Attachment B Ex. A.13 TIA (transpo, January 2020).pdf

    Attachment B Ex. A.2 Critical Areas Mitigation Plan 1-8-20.pdf

    Attachment B Ex. A.3 Geotechnical Engineering Report 3-8-21.pdf

    Attachment B Ex. A.4 Preliminary Storm Report Revised March 2021.pdf

    Attachment B Ex. A.5 Tree Retention Plan CityView Revised 1-25-21.pdf

    Attachment B Ex. A.6 Tree Retention Plan Map 3-4-21.pdf

    Attachment B Ex. A.7 Landscape Plan Buffer 3-4-21.pdf

    Attachment B Ex. A.8 Landscape Plan with Lighting Plan 3-4-21.pdf

    Attachment B Ex. A.9 CityView Grading Plans with Trail Plan 3-4-21.pdf

    Attachment B Ex. B - PDP2019-0015 - 8 10 2019 NOIA.pdf

    Attachment B Ex. C PDP2019-0015- Complete App 3-9-2020.pdf

    Attachment B Ex. D PDP2019-0015 - Type I and II N O App 4 24 2020.pdf

    Attachment B Ex. E Public Comments.pdf

    Attachment B Ex. F PDP2019-0015 - 7 6 2020 RFI Final.pdf

    Attachment B Ex. G 3 12 2021 Response to Public Comment.pdf

    Attachment B Ex. H PC recommendation 2021-06-03.pdf

    Attachment B Ex. I PDP2019-0015 - 6 24 2021 RFI Final w Atts.pdf

    Attachment B Ex. J CityView Site Plan - amended 9-30-21.pdf

    Attachment C - Zoning and Land Use.pdf

    Attachment D - Cedar Ridge Preliminary Plat Approval Res 19-94.pdf

    Attachment E - Cedar Ridge Div 2 Final Plat Res 2002-24.pdf

    Attachment F - Cedar Ridge Division 2 Final Plat.PDF

    Attachment G - Time Extensions Nov Dec 2019.pdf

    Attachment H - TIme Extension October 2020.pdf

    Attachment I - Planning Commission Public Meeting.pdf

    Attachment J - Public Comment RE SEPA MDNS.pdf

    Attachment J.1 Public Comment received after Feb 23, 2022.pdf

    Attachment K - Density Bonus Request, May 11, 2020.pdf 

Just to be clear and explicit: to merely FILE an appeal requires a non-reimbursable $1,500 payment, upon which citizens can then procure an attorney for 500 smackers an hour. How is that for government “for the people”? A small neighborhood working group of Puget and Samish residents will meet to discuss possible action given the time line available. Rest assured, I will keep you updated.

*doing business as

About Dick Conoboy

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Member since Jan 26, 2008

Dick Conoboy is a recovering civilian federal worker and military officer who was offered and accepted an all-expense paid, one year trip to Vietnam in 1968. He is a former Army [...]

Comments by Readers

Jon Humphrey

Apr 21, 2022

Yet another issue the “bottom 90%” of us care about that we get no real say in is affordable housing.
I’ll jump to some other issues and tie them back in. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had reps. from the political parties, including the Democrats, admit to me that “public broadband is overwhelmingly popular with the public, but our elected officials just won’t do anything about it.” This is also true, according to them, about electric buses, renewable energy (note: giving mega-polluter PSE even more monopoly control doesn’t count I’ll do the numbers below), and housing as well. This is why the Dems. are making so many resolutions. Because even they have to admit that they keep telling us to support candidates that will never act on our wishes. Not in a meaningful way, and not without some awful compromise in the background. (See how the State Broadband Office is giving corporate welfare to big telecom to install obsolete tech here:
Then note how the COB has an existing fiber network they sat on throughout the entire pandemic, etc. (details are in my articles).
In short, our elected officials especially the neo-liberals (Shewmake, Ramel, Lilliquist, Sidhu, Grant, the rest of the city council, and most of the county-council) can trace their roots to Bill Clinton (said jokingly: “the best Republican president we ever had”) who traces his economic roots to Reagan (aka the guy with the failed Trickle-down economics theory that Shewmake believes in.)
So they’re ignoring us, because the Dems. figure that on the heels of the Trump administration that no matter what candidates they put up we’ll vote for them simply because we’re afraid to vote otherwise. However, policy wise both major parties seem to screw us over at about an equal rate. Us being those of us in the “bottom 90%” (aka most Americans).
The neo-liberals are especially dangerous as they pretend to care in public while stabbing us in the back in private. Then they refuse to even talk openly about critical issues. Crying wolf whenever they’re held accountable. Saying that somehow being held accountable is being treated in an uncivilized manner, while they watch their constituents starve and lose their homes. All of them powerful enough to do something about it, but most of them checking with the establishment before making any moves. Perhaps we should just have Shewmake and her campaign manger run PUD, Port, City and County Council meetings. It’s obvious just about everyone there is a mouthpiece for them anyway.  
Here are a few issues the Neo-Liberals are breaking an arm patting themselves on the back for where no real progress has been made:
I remind everyone that according to the IPCC Climate Change report we have less than 8 years to greatly reduce our greenhouse gas output and no one in our local government except Commissioner Deshmane is taking it seriously.
Electrification of the COB: PSE is a mega polluter who produces most of their power using natural gas. At best their efficiency is about 60% which is considered excellent for this outdated technology. Then they pair it with AT LEAST an 11% transmission loss. The PUD refuses to do a study on what the losses are, although this would give them some idea of where to start putting renewables in since it’s hard to have a lot of transmission loss with a panel strapped to your roof, etc. Why? They are pretending that they are poor and can’t afford to do any real studies. The real reason is that Grant and Murphy both have close relationships with PSE, BP, etc. and don’t want to risk angering their sugar daddies and mommies in the fossil fuel industry.
Thanks to the lack of leadership we still don’t have a smart grid to feed panels into anyway and a real solution like Thorium is a pipe dream here.
Hydrogen in natural gas: Was actually a handout by fake environmentalist Alex Ramel and the Shewmake crew to megapolluters. I can do a very detailed breakdown, but in short it’s about as effective as trying to solve the climate crisis by putting ethanol in gasoline. Good thing the population is generally so bad at basic Chemistry and Math or we’d see Ramel, Shewmake, etc. as the environmental hating, special interest protecting, establishment drones they actually are.
Electric buses: Are being attacked by Sidhu and Lilliquist who are trying to prevent any forward progress in just about every arena you can imagine. Especially infrastructure.
The Sierra Club: Has been blocking presentations on tech waste to protect a prominent member who invests specifically in 5G which has a huge energy footprint and generates a lot more waste than the industry wants anyone to find out about. Don’t worry though, this investor is friends with Fleetwood, Lilliquist and Shewmake so they’ll make sure we don’t talk about tech waste at their levels too.
I can go on, but the point is clear. They know what we want and need, they’re just ignoring us. Because they don’t care about us and when I say they, it’s mostly the neo-liberal corporate Democrats. After all, they’ve been in control for a long time and we have little to show for it.
Think about how little progress they made on water conservation this summer when we’re in another record-breaking drought. We can’t just blame Trumpsters for that.
For example, Shewmake especially has fought any forward progress on water conservation and rights, belittling experts because she is too insecure to be “wrong.” Which she usually is because she is not wise enough to take advice from experts that are not linked to the special interests that fund her campaigns. With how heavily water rights and therefore Salmon culture are tied to our local tribes one wonders how we can tolerate politicians that don’t care about this basic resource and claim to be progressive or at least enlightened in any way.
Yet Shewmake is the number one candidate the Dems. want to run. They describe her as a ”political powerhouse.” Really, the Reagan era economist, that hates 50% of the population, is too arrogant to take advice from experts, and doesn’t care about water? That’s the best we can expect? The Dems. are even out there trying to convince better candidates not to run against her.  
Then there’s the PUD who hired a new general manger who came here just to retire and not accomplish anything. So much for everything Grant promised on the campaign trail.
Shewmake’s understudy Grant made sure that happened. Guess there will be no next-generation jobs for young women going into tech, or anyone else. But they don’t care, as long as we keep believing them when they say they do on the campaign trail and voting for them out of fear. I’m sure they’ll all be out there talking about how much they care and trying to pull the wool over our eyes.
I again urge voters to look at actions, not words. Any leader who abandoned us during the pandemic should no longer be a leader. That’s pretty much all of them but especially the County Executive (Sidhu), the city council, most of the county council, and our neo-liberal state reps. and senators. 
Let me be clear, I’m not saying we should replace them with Trumpsters, but the Dems. should be able to do better than giving us the same shit candidates again and telling us, “stop complaining, this is as good as it gets. Shut up!”
Again, our elected officials know what we want and need, but even their own party has to fight against them because they just don’t care and they think they can keep getting away with it because we keep voting them back in.
I’ll tell you who they’ve shown us they care about: Predatory developers, obsolete anti-first amendment telecom providers, fossil fuel companies, (.... insert other interests that are slowly killing us off here…) We should make no mistake, most of our “leaders” will watch the entire planet burn down around them as long as they are making money and figure that there is some room for them on a Bezos rocket. I urge voters, don’t choose extinction, stop voting neo-liberal corporate Democrat.  Demand the Democrats produce more candidates like Deshmane and Galloway and fewer like Grant, Ramel, Shewmake, Lilliquist, Fleetwood, Sidhu, etc.



Karen Steen

Apr 21, 2022

Jon Humphrey - Thank you for teeing off from the sad CityView saga to detail the levels of local elected governance betraying much, often most, of its constituents. Tragically, these same cynical insider politics scale upward to state and federal governance. Historically, local elections offered opportunities for representative governance and solutions; but unaccountable ideology and politics of convenience have supplanted solutions as the driver of local politics.

Consider another thoroughly wrongheaded development proceeding through City Hall: an oversized, nationally advertized 20th century low-barrier homeless shelter run by a religious organization and located in Old Town (planned 5-fold expansion of Lighthouse Mission Ministries). The proposed size, location, and known negative environmental impacts of this facility will most certainly result in increased chronic public safety/health hazards for core city neighborhoods and our waterfront. Still, City Hall is partnering with  the Mission for this plan, and they have not been publicly transparent about real and better options that  consider the welfare of core city neighborhoods and our city center. Sharon Shewmake lives in the neighborhood that hosts this planned development, albeit at its farthest distance, and she has long served on its ostensible neighborhood association recognized by COB. Still, not a word from Shewmake, nor the purported neighborhood association, nor the city Ward 3 Councilman Hammill about this proposed Base Camp expansion that City Hall is deciding by cynicism and quiet political convenience.


Liz Marshall

Apr 22, 2022

Well said, Dick, Jon, Karen. Do all cities and counties in Western Washington demonstrate the same general behavior, and in particular, “I remind everyone that according to the IPCC Climate Change report we have less than 8 years to greatly reduce our greenhouse gas output and no one in our local government except Commissioner Deshmane is taking it seriously”(quoting Jon)?


Jon Humphrey

Apr 26, 2022

Yes, the lack of reasonable response seems to be a systemic issue, BUT Whatcom County/Bellingham seems to be especailly bad. See my running record charting the lack of transperancy surrounding broadband called “No Responses.” However, many other communities do have public fiber now (Anacortes with fiber to the premises for only $70 a month for GIgabit and very low install fees comes to mind, but there is Kitsap, Mount Vernon and more). Fiber is absolutely necessary to help reduce trips and save the environment. It is also the most resiliant braodband infrastructure, uses the least amount of power and produces the least amount of waste. King County schools have committed to a LEED Gold building standard and many electric buses are coming to Washington State. Just not here, even though many were free, paid for with money from the VW emissions scandal bailout. Still, as my recent article on Hybrid/Electric specific additional vehicle taxes points out our problems are top down and systemic. They are trying to make a road repair argument by targeting green vehicles with additional taxes when road wear is based on weight. So they’re encouraging the use of a fuel supply that we need to be getting rid of. So, according to this additional tax, if you want good roads you have to buy lots of gas and diesel, but if you buy lots of gas and diesel we get to starve to death… So it’s obvious no real thinking is going on among our elected officials, they’re only listneing to corporations, etc. Oh, and it was corporate Democrats, not Republicans, that pushed that one through. Not that I’m happy with either party. Also, we keep running and electing the same people. I know better politicians, and citizens, that the Democratic party approached specifically about NOT running against Grant and Shewmake. The party says to you, “we want to run peopel connected to Shewmake beause she is a political powerhouse.” Yeah, with policies that can be tracked back to Ronald Reagan. It’s obvious that we need a new political party.  


Liz Marshall

Apr 26, 2022

Thanks, Jon.


Karen Steen

Apr 28, 2022

Liz Marshall – These recent years, I’ve followed independent and mainstream news and social media discussions from Portland, Seattle, Bellingham, and LA County, CA. Without exception, residents of these cities express deep disappointment and discouragement that their elected officials do not respond to citizen concerns. While citizens from these cities have many common concerns, the politics underlying the disregard for their concerns by elected officials is different for each city.

Portland has an antiquated, peculiar city governance structure that is apparently inadequate to effectively run a 21st century city. The city motto popularized by long-time Portlanders – “Keep Portland Weird” – reflects their governance structure. In recent decades, the wealth disparity of Seattle’s citizenry became and remains stark. Seattle’s electorate found common ground in ideological politics that have now proven to be inadequate for effective governance. LA County, CA, which I’ve followed as a barometer of west coast homelessness and related public safety/health impacts, seems paralyzed by long-standing party politics that scale through all levels of CA governance.

Having lived in Bellingham and advocated for neighborhood welfare these past 10 years, I’ve concluded COB is run by and for the Planning Department and associated property developers, i.e. career bureaucrats appointed by the elected mayor and property owners/developers who are often COB insiders. This patriarchal governance centered in land development likely began with 19th century settlements that incorporated as Bellingham. Property development, not citizens voice, rules the day in Bellingham; anything else is at the pleasure and convenience of the mayor and council.

Finally, more important than why COB is unresponsive to its citizenry is this: why have Bellingham citizens allowed this top-down governance to persist for so long?

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