Posted by: sweeneyblog | September 8, 2011

UPDATE: Dan Pike calls about recent post

Dan Pike just called about my recent post concerning his campaigning about Coal Trains. After identifying himself, he said, “Well, it is nice to see you don’t check your facts, as well as use my opponent’s narrative.”

I said, “Well wait, what did I get wrong?”

Pike: “The fact that I introduced the resolution and that Gene pulled it. When I heard my opponent pushing that, I couldn’t remember exactly what happened so Seth Fleetwood and I poured over all the documents, and it isn’t true. The council put it forward and I asked that it be pulled.”

Riley: “Okay well I will put . . .”

Pike: “Bye” *click*.

So there you go.

One more update: Dan Pike called me back and let me know he was just headed into a meeting and didn’t mean to hang up on me. He contested a few other points as well. He said that Gene Knutzen was the one who put forward the resolution and Dan Pike asked that it be pulled.  I’m going to investigate this further, and see what I can find out about it. He also noted that two apartment buildings were being constructed in Bellingham and that “we are doing more than any other community right now on this issue.”

I really appreciate Dan Pike giving me a call and helping clarify some of these issues. We can argue about perspective (whether or not candidates should be talking about coal trains) but I always want to get my facts straight. That is important to me as a citizen journalist. I’m not always perfect, but I will continue to try.

Hopefully Final Update: Gene Knutzen, below, says he did not put forth the resolution. I think this whole discussion detracts from the main point which is that I would like candidates to speak to the many many issues facing our city, not just to this one issue outside their jurisdiction.



  1. […] Democratic Party, Local Politics, Politics, Weekly Column « One Day for Labor? UPDATE: Dan Pike calls about recent post […]

  2. Riley…
    Although I agree that Pike is making the coal trains a major campaign vehicle for him, (which many of his supporters appreciate), I really can’t fault any elected official for feeling out an issue early, and evolving an opinion when more information becomes available.

    There is a difference between flip flops and being responsive and agile. There is also a difference between action bravado and lack of caution. Pike may or may not be doing a combination of such factors in this case. Linville was more measured before leaping, which may be what you want from the person with the missle launch codes. But too much caution is getting Obama some flack right now.

    It may boil down to style.

  3. Riley:

    I did not put forth any resolution on coal trains period. What happened is i was alerted that it may be on the agenda but after a week or so and a lot
    of objections by council members it was pulled.

    • Thank you for clearing that up! It was unclear from the resolution that I posted.

  4. My recollection is the same as Gene’s on the proposed resolution last year that was in support of the Coal Terminal. It certainly was not proposed by anyone on the council. It came from the Administration,

  5. Riley,

    An interesting bit of history regarding the “apartments under construction” in a “revitalized” downtown Bellingham.

    Those apartments were counted as completed in the 2006 Comprehensive Plan in order to help cook the land use figures in that document. In fact, they were counted as being much taller buildings than are being built now and as containing many more units than they are being constructed to contain right now.

    The original plan called for eighteen story towers containing more than 316 units which were included in the plan as being complete. That is now down to under 60 units and they are yet to be completed. (see appendix 3 of city comp. plan)

    The fact of the matter is, even with the completion of the Walton complex completed last year the downtown appears to have fewer units than were reported to exist in 2006. I believe completion of the two new buildings will still leave the downtown short of the number of units it was said to have existing in the 2006 plan, a plan the city does not plan to address in a significant way until 2016.

    Jack O. Petree

    • Just a little update…

      2004 EIS reports 506 total units existed in the CBD as of the year 2000

      2006 Supporting docs for new Comp Plan reports 634 new units were counted as already constructed for the 2006 document

      That is at 1140 units said to be in place downtown in 2006

      City of Bellingham report on 2010 census calls out 870 units existing in the CBD

      • whoops… 506 as of 2003

      • there may have been, depending on timing of the counts, only a few more than 1000 units counted as existing downtown in 2006…still, more than 130 units more than were actually counted as existing in 2010 and, still demonstrating that even when the new units being built are actually finished we still won’t have as many units downtown as we said already existed in 2010

  6. Thanks for this post Riley. I have to echo Jack’s point.

    The City just voted to delay the housing update to the comprehensive plan. This means that a plan that admittedly had a deficit of housing for over 10,000 anticipated residents (low estimate) will have to wait another five years. Every other city I know is working to ensure that they have current housing plans.

    Concerning multi-family housing, the City was already in a serious deficit over apartments. I am continually reminded that it is unfair that landlords take advantage of housing shortages to increase their profits. Yet, the City is the biggest barrier to multi-family housing out there. Right now, friends that are looking to build apartments are confronting the situation where the permits, impact fees, and other “permissions to build” exceed the cost of the land on a per unit basis. You actually owe the government more than what you paid for the land BEFORE you begin building!

    And think about this. Prior to the purchase of Fairhaven Highlands, the City had counted that property in the comp plan as being capable of supporting over 500 units of multi-family housing, a figure used in the 2006 comp plan where they admit the housing deficit. With the purchase of that property and promise to use as a park, there is even LESS multi-family zoned property now in Bellingham. I’m not against parks in the least, but I would like to know where that zoning deficit will be met now.

    If the City thinks that “having done the most” involves removing residential zoned property from the land inventory, adopting regulations that encourage single family homes in multi-family lots, and relying on the vapor promises of “urban villages” built on existing strip malls and landfills, then the City of Bellingham is full steam ahead. Unfortunately, many of us concerned about housing issues and affordability don’t share the same point of view.

    • Thank you for reading! Share with your friends.

    • Perry,

      Your paragraph regarding Fairhaven Highlands might lead someone to believe that the city’s land supply analysis didn’t already consider the impact of acquiring park land. That is simply not true.

      The city’s land supply analysis anticipated the acquisition of 891 acres* of developable land for parks and another 170 developable acres for ‘other public & quasi-public facilities. The calculated population capacity of the city’s land supply was already reduced by more than 17,000 people as a result of these anticipated acquisitions. In other words, the net population capacity already factors in purchases of parkland. The 82-acre acquisition of Fairhaven Highlands is simply part of the total 891 acres to be acquired. The land supply calculation already accounts for this.

      This is at least the second time I have read a comment by you which implies the purchase of parkland (specifically Fairhaven Highlands) impacts the city’s land supply analysis. I hope you now understand that these purchases have already been considered in the city’s planning.

      • * Link to land supply analysis (page LU-16b of Chapter 2 of the Comp Plan):

      • Larry,

        You’re being a bit disingenuous on that one. The city’s capacity analysis also found a need (and still calls for the inclusion of in our UGAs) for nearly 2000 acres of additional land to supply Bellingham’s future needs.

        That land, including the park lands it contained, was never added to the UGA which is the primary reason Bellingham dropped from accommodating more than 62% of the county’s population increase 1995 – 2002 down to less than 20% over the last two to four years.

        Not something that would concern you but, in growth management terms it is an unmitigated disaster.

        Location is also an important part of the equation. The southern neighborhoods of the city now contain many times per person the park land called for in our most recent parks plan while the northern neighborhoods go begging.

  7. Jack,

    My response to Perry was not disingenuous at all. The city’s comp plan and land supply analysis absolutely accounts for the acquisition of park land. That is what my comment was all about.

    If you really want to get technical, the city’s comp plan actually called for the acquisition of 91 acres of park land in the South Neighborhood alone. (Fairhaven Highlands is in the South Neighborhood.)

    Your comment is about population accommodation and the residential land supply needed to accommodate it. The city’s comp plan initially called for an additional 821 acres of residential land, not 2,000. Including commercial/industrial land, the total was 1,389, not 2000. You also ignore the fact that the city’s UGA WAS expanded to include at least King Mtn.

    As you will recall, the shortage estimate was based on a 25% safety factor, which the county rejected. Using the county’s reduced safety factor, the county determined that Bellingham’s UGA was sufficient to meet its projected population growth.

    Regarding the Park Level of Service (LOS) for different areas around the city, I’d like to see your numbers. I have a fairly detailed set, and I know for a fact that the five southside neighborhoods have a level of service per thousand below the citywide average. The city does not maintain its own Park LOS numbers for each area of the city, nor does the city do a very good job of considering which neighborhoods comprise which areas.

    A quick view of the city’s Neighborhood Map reveals that I-5 is the primary physical dividing line for the city, a line that physically divides the western neighborhoods from the eastern ones. Additionally, since the city is long and narrow, there are distinct sections for the north, central and south. Such a division creates six areas: NW, NE, CW, CE, SW and SE.

    Many people claim the south is park-heavy because of Lake Padden Park; however, this park really is in the SE area and is closer and more convenient to many of the central and north neighborhoods than it is to the five SW neighborhoods served by the acquisition of Fairhaven Highlands (Fairhaven, South, South Hill, Happy Valley and Edgemoor).

    Bottom Line: I disagree with virtually everything you stated in your comment.

  8. Larry,
    Your statements are very well thought out, but there is one fact missing. The chuckanut ride/fairhaven highlands project was counted in the County 2009 land capacity analysis as a pending project. The County LCA is the only one that matters when sizing a UGA, as we found out. That is, the 739 units were counted as “guaranteed”. This makes it a very different animal from the normal parks deduction.

  9. Clayton, I admit I am more familiar with the city’s LCA than the county’s; however, the principle is the same. The 891 acres of parkland removed from the developable land supply were not specifically identified acreage. Because the Fairhaven Highlands property was purchased as park land, a comparable amount of acreage included in the 891 will now be available for development.

    The average density assumption in the city’s LCA for parkland acreage was 16 people per acre. Based on 82 acres, that’s 1312 people, which is very close to the population accommodated by Fairhaven Highlands’ 739 units (or 1.8 people per unit).

    In other words, the most likely scenario is a wash. 82 acres accommodating 1312 people at Fairhaven Highlands was removed from the developable land supply, but a comparable amount from the 891 parkland acreage estimate will be added back to the land supply available for development.

    Bottom line: The purchase of Fairhaven Highlands does not invalidate the city’s LCA (nor the county’s LCA given the similarity in methodology).

    I don’t believe the “guaranteed” status makes any difference on the net capacity number.

  10. Larry,

    Go to, the city’s website, proceed to the planning department, click on community planning then click on neighborhood profiles… an overview map of the city is presented (dozens more are available in other areas of the site).

    The two most southern neighborhoods in Bellingham are Samish Hill and Edgemoor. The next three are South, Happy Valley and Fairhaven in that order. South Hill and Western are next with the two having almost identical northern boundary points.

    In political terms your leaving the city’s southern most neighborhood out of your calculations is called gerrymandering.



  11. Jack,

    First you accuse me of being disingenuous. Now you accuse me of trying to gerrymander the neighborhoods. Why can’t you just stick to the facts?

    Do you have a reading comprehension problem? In my comment, I stated that the primary PHYSICAL dividing line is I-5, which PHYSICALLY divides the city between east and west. I-5 actually limits pedestrian and traffic flow between neighborhoods on either side of it.

    I then stated that the city can then be easily divided into North, South and Central, creating six areas, NW, NE, CW, CE, SW and SE.

    Samish is the entire SouthEAST (SE) area. It’s parkland is including in the SE LOS calculation.

    The five SouthWEST (SW) neighborhoods are: South, Edgemoor, Fairhaven, Happy Valley, and South Hill. These five neighborhoods have ALREADY become a semi-political unit having formed the “Coalition of Southside Neighborhoods” (CSN) more than six years ago. The Samish Neighborhood chose not to be a part of this coalition from the very beginning. It was THEIR choice, not MINE.

    If you would stop trying so hard to ‘catch me’, you might actually learn something. Grow up.

    BTW, if there is anyone still reading, the neighborhood map can be found at:

  12. To preempt another attack of the ‘killer Petrees’, I’d just like to clarify that my original reply to Perry was simply this:

    The acquisition of parkland by the city of Bellingham was anticipated in the city’s comp plan and land supply analysis. When parkland is actually acquired, regardless of its location, the land supply analysis remains intact. The only difference is that the remaining number of acres to be acquired is reduced.

    The Petrees’ attempts to obfuscate the issue are not relevant to my reply to Perry. The Petrees may not be satisfied with the size of Bellingham’s UGA or where parkland is acquired, but that has nothing to do with whether the acquisition of parkland impairs the city’s land use planning. Since these acquisitions were already planned for, they don’t.

  13. The discussion above, if anyone is, or ever did pay attention, illustrates why it is important to not only listen to various versions of the facts but to take a few moments from time to time to fact check.

    Larry may be right in saying I have a reading comprehension problem (i.e. I disagree with him from time to time) but I can look at pictures so, check out the parks plan on the city web site. Existing facilities are shown and listed on page 19 while proposed facilities are listed on page 44. Check out the differences between what Mr. Horowitz claims and what the actual plan calls for.

    Also notice Larry defines “southside” neighborhood by who belongs to his club rather than where the neighborhood is actually located. Look at the neighborhood maps referenced before and on the city web site and wonder why, based on Larry’s definition, WWU is not a southside neighborhood while south hill is.

    Larry tells me to “grow up” (i.e. agree with him on things). Alas, I’m afraid it is too late for that. In this discussion he and I are already at the little children pointing and saying, “Is so! Is not! Is so! Is not!” stage.

    I’m sure more will be heard on this later but, for this go round. Enough already.

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