Posted by: sweeneyblog | December 5, 2013

City Council Pleased/Displeased with Waterfront Plan

You may have noticed that this blog has maintained almost complete radio silence over the waterfront plans that were negotiated then approved by the city and port recently. Partially this is because it has been covered thoroughly by John Stark at the Bellingham Herald and Tim Johnson at the Cascadia Weekly. The other part of this is my unfamiliarity with the details of the plan.

I’m not alone in this details lockout. I know many passionately engaged citizens who are lost when it comes to the changes at the waterfront, so I’m working on a “Waterfront 101” that should be live this weekend allowing everyone to participate in this multi-million dollar project.

So why this post now? One of my readers sent in this video and it was too good not to share. In just three minutes, it illustrates just some of the dysfunctional process that is going into the development of our waterfront.



  1. What a sad summary of the situation.

  2. The Comrades have spoken.

  3. The City Council was no more involved than the public who allowed the port -who receive no media or blog review- to take over the project.

    • Completely agree with this comment. The Council tried to understand and amend the Development Plan but were swamped by City staff and the Port Commissioners. If you want to shine a light on this start with the Port Commission.

  4. It pains me to say this, because I know and like each of the members of City Council. Each is a citizen volunteer trying to serve their community within the constraints of also living a life, having family and friends, and making a living. Each would like in principle to see the best outcome for their community. Not a single one of the Council members has a venal business angle, or inappropriate conflict of interest, in the Port issue. (But see: Walker, Scott).

    And yet, this Council was flattened by the Port/City staff bulldozer. Utterly run over. Not even close, not even a semblance of organized push-back.

    It might be a structural problem. It might be that a citizen-volunteer, 20%-time Council is just spread too thin to really stand up and say “No”. Added to this, our Council does not have its own staff, so it is unequipped to get into any adversarial relationship with respect to the Mayor or senior staff. Council’s information trickles out of the tap controlled by staff, Mayor, Port.

    It would take a super-human effort on the part of a substantial plurality of Council to overcome this obstacle. Unfortunately, genomic science is not yet at the point where we can take one Council member and instantly clone 3 others who are equipped to function at the same level.

    Only one council member has been fully engaged on the Port issue with 100% intellect, with time, and with huge effort during the past two years. That person is Jack Weiss. 1-6 doth not make a successful outcome though.

    Again, this is not an attack. All seven Council members have for many years given generously of their time and expertise to the community. I’m just trying to note that a steamroller went through, and Council suddenly looks awfully flattened.

    Your’s in Flatland,
    Abe Jacobson

  5. Abe, do you think it may have to do with the structure of city government as mayor-dominant? What about a “draft Jack for mayor” campaign?

  6. Great video! I echo what Abe said.

  7. […] good question. Commenters here on this blog have made a great point that the City Council has had a difficult time getting their hands on this […]

  8. Though taken out of context, those council members did say all those things. Lilliquists “less than Bellingham deserves” says it all.

    Cor, really.

  9. And Dianne Foster is correct. Kelli Linville’s staunch support of the plan was a key factor.

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