Every voter in Bellingham should sign the petition that Tip Johnson - a past two-term Bellingham City Council member - is trying desperately to circulate. He has only one week left because of the crafty and nasty political maneuvering by our mayor, Seth Fleetwood; but that's another story.
Tim Johnson' s Gristle in today's Cascadia Weekly (yep, a Tim and a Tip - keep them separate), points out the new policy Bellingham City Hall has embarked on to sell our valuable community rights-of-way to developers for high-end projects. This morning's Gristle makes hash of City Hall's ten-year charade of being concerned about low-cost housing. Mayor Fleetwood is merely escalating former Mayor Linville's planning and construction policies of destroying family housing and allowing developers to buy up our neighborhoods.
As Tim Johnson notes in today's Cascadia Weekly:
"How has this construction influenced affordability? Not one jot."
You can read today's Gristle online at “Missing Middle Still Missing”, or pick up a copy of the Cascadia Weekly.
Whether you live in the Edgemore Neighborhood or the Columbia, Sehome or South Hill neighborhoods - there is no neighborhood that is safe from this new, stealth, and illegal process the city is testing on Douglas Avenue. In brief, City Hall specifically violated its own codes in order to sell the right-of-way, for a fraction of its value, to allow high end, expensive development. In doing so, they wiped out a city trail and greenspace that has been on the Parks Department Trail Guide for 25 years. Tip's petition is an attempt to stop this precedent-setting case and allow Bellingham voters to be the judges of the mayor's scheme.
Want to watch the mayor trash Tip without naming him? Click here for video and slide to hour 2:03:00 for Fleetwood's almost 10 minute harangue. As Tim Johnson noted in The Gristle, he is “dismissive” of the referendum effort. Yet Fleetwood closes his monologue by virtually admitting they screwed up on Douglas Avenue and spends the last two minutes promising to do things differently in the future. He notes that “ … a lot of good things are going to be coming forward - that have grown out of the experience we've had on the Douglas Street (sic) vacation…”
We contend there can never be enough “good things coming forward” to allow exchanging this illegal Douglas Avenue vacation for some future legal process. We need to stop the Douglas Avenue fire sale as this is the only way to see that legal processes will be followed, ever. In 40 years of civic involvement, I have repeatedly seen our elected officials play the role of Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown to kick - the public being cast as Charlie Brown. Over these 40 years, I have seen uncountable promises vaporize later - just like Charlie's football.
Please find and sign the petition. Tip's article of a few days ago, found here, has all the needed information. Twice in past years Tip has run successful petition drives. One resulted in the council reversing themselves because their illegal processes were about to go to the voters. In the other, the city obstructed it in court, making it impossibly expensive for Tip to appeal. The mayor and council need to be reminded again to obey the law.