The Final Hoorah For Bellingham Ecosystems / Facebook post, Whatcom Hawk, Wendy Harris

cob meeting cao12 hrs November 8, 2015  Wendy Harris

This Monday, the city is holding a public hearing on its Critical Area Ordinance.

As reflected in the public comment tracker, I have dogged the city throughout this process, and continue to be appalled at the city’s lack of responsiveness, their attempts to obfuscate, and to mislead.
They have failed to educate the public or the council and they managed to confuse a pro-development planning commission to the point where they forwarded the draft without recommendation.

The city staff has been clearly biased in favor of the development community, and in fact, met in secret with them before anyone know this was happening. If adopted as drafted, this will actually reduce the protections that currently exist. And the city is moving forward with this, disconnected from the larger Comp. Plan update of which it is a part. Piecemealing is a favored ploy by staff to understate cumulative impacts and the totality of damage that will occur.

And long stemming problems were not corrected. The city STILL has no inventory and analysis and no baseline standards to ensure no net loss of ecosystem functions. Why? While it is expensive and time consuming to do an inventory of critical area ecosystem functions, I believe that staff wants to avoid anything that discourages more growth and development. No expensive mitigation is required for things that you have deliberately ignored.

Why does this matter so much? The city is destroying its critical areas without protection or mitigation. The next update is not due for another 10 years and it is likely there will be little left to save at that point. Each new development destroys vegetation and trees, degrades habitat, creates barriers to animal movement, fills in functional wetlands, all without adequate understanding or concerns about the loss of ecological function.

That leaves our city more susceptible to damage and less resilient to changing weather patterns, invasive species, degradation to to water, soil and air. We will lose more biodiversity, which is a key factor in keeping ecosystems intact and functional. In short, our own survival is tied to protection of our critical areas as surely as it connected to a reversal in green house gases and use of fossil fuels.

Speak out for the health of your city. It may be one of your last chances.

Read Wendy’s post on the Whatcom Hawk Facebook page here.

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