The Planning Commission is probably one of the most important of all the city’s commissions and boards. The commission reviews and makes recommendations on the city’s Comprehensive Plan including zoning changes and other code modifications all of which have important and lasting effects on the lives of our citizens. Want to impact how our city is being shaped? Impact how our city will look? Apply to the Planning Commission (see link at end of article).
The mayor reappointed Ali Taysi and Phyllis McKee to temporary, one year positions on the Planning Commission at the December 7th city council meeting. (Clarification: 9 Dec 8:37pm - Both had just completed two 4-year terms as commissioners.) The face of the commission as it begins its work in 2021 is as I indicated in my last article on the topic:
Ali Taysi* - temporary appointment through December 31, 2021
Phyllis McKee** - temporary appointment through December 31, 2021
Scott Jones- began first term on January 1st, 2020
Rose Lathrop*** - began first term summer 2020
Mike Estes- current term expires January 1st, 2023
Had Taysi and McKee not accepted reappointments, the commission would have been down to three members, two of whom (Jones and Lathrop) would have had a year or less experience. The two remaining vacancies must be filled with non-development oriented individuals. (Steve Crooks finished his second term on the commission and MacKenzie Graham abruptly quit a few months after being appointed.)
“No more than three voting members of the commission may engage principally in the buying, selling, developing, construction of, or investment in real estate for profit as individuals or be members of any partnership, or officers or employees of any corporation, that engages principally in the buying, selling, developing, construction of, or investment in real estate for profit. This subsection also applies to professionals, consultants, and advisors for whom a majority of clients and customers engage principally in the buying, selling, developing, construction of, or investment in real estate for profit. The limitation of this subsection includes, but is not limited to: real estate investors (land and real property), realtors, real estate developers, development and environmental consultants, architects, appraisers, construction contractors, and landscapers. This limitation also applies to those who actively engaged in any of these activities or occupations within the last five years.” (Chapter 2.42 PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION)
Taysi, McKee and Lathrop fit in the category of real estate/development. There is an active, ongoing process to choose two additional commissioners without development ties. The Planning Director, Rick Sepler, stated during the council meeting that applications have been received and are being evaluated. This is still an open process and candidates can apply here: Boards and Commissions Application Process.
*Ali Taysi - Principal owner of AVT Consulting, specialized in Land Development, Real Estate Development, Site Development and Building Sites in Bellingham.
**Phyllis McKee - Owner at Phyllis McKee Investments/Finnegan’s Alley, Bellingham
***Rose Lathrop - Green Building and Smart Growth program manager at Sustainable Connections, Bellingham. She is also the former (Feb 2002 - Dec 2016) executive director of the Northwest Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.