Over the last number of months, local civic action group, the Riveters Collective has held a number of Ask Me Anything (AMA) events with candidates who were running for office during the 2017 election season and also held some of these events focusing on issues of high public interest. For these events, members of the Riveters Collective Facebook group can submit questions in the comment section under the event to ask candidates or people with specific expertise on designated issues. On the date of the event many of those questions get answered. Sometimes answers continue to come in over the course of the days soon following the event. Their latest AMA focused on the plans by Bellingham City Council and the Port of Bellingham Commission, along with the chosen developer Harcourt Developments, for the Bellingham Waterfront.
Here is the information blurb for the “Waterfront AMA with Pinky Vargas and Michael Shepard” Facebook event:
“What can regular people like you and I do to impact Waterfront planning at this stage? What the heck is even going on down there? City council member Pinky Vargas, and Port of Bellingham commisioner-elect Michael Shepard will join us for a VIDEO (hopefully!) Ask Me Anything. You don’t have to wait for the AMA to add questions! Drop them in the convo here and we’ll dig them up when it’s time to talk.”
The event facilitators were Elizabeth Hartsoch and Susan Wood.
I watched the video and took some blow-by-blow notes on the discussion for those who may not have time to watch the full video, or who may want to quickly look up things that were said during the discussion. The material is not word for word. However, I did try to state what was said as accurately as possible and in a similar way to how it was delivered.
Here is a link to a list of questions that were collected before the event: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fH_ZayUB0VoiGhkiit3RH5pILlpVm7sHj2O2vfTdCn4/edit
Meanwhile, there are also some additional questions and some insightful comments that were made while the AMA was happening live, which can be viewed under the original post of the video: https://www.facebook.com/RivetersCollective/videos/1962158350733628/
Here are my notes:
Michael Shepard: There is an April 1, 2018 deadline for revised amendments to the Subarea Plan which is the guiding document between the port, Harcourt and the city that binds us to our larger framework. Change in street grid is the major change that is requiring the amendments. The city will have a legally mandated public process, both with the planning commission and also with the city council. These are two opportunities for the public to participate in early spring and again in the summer. He wants the port to host in Jan 2018 a series of community open houses. People haven’t had a chance to participate for over two years. The last plan people saw from a year ago looks different to people than the one they just saw recently. There’s no legally mandated requirement for the port to have the open houses. He wants it and port staff is supportive.
Pinky Vargas: A mixture of agencies are responsible for making the changes that end up being amendments to the plan.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: What triggered the big changes in the plan?
Michael Shepard: Oct 2016 was the last plan. The Port Commission decided they wanted to save a building that was in the middle of the park, the alcohol plant. It was a historic building they wanted to repurpose it.
Pinky Vargas: And a lot of people had asked for it.
Michael Shepard: The port took some heat for tearing down a lot of buildings. There was also renewed interest from Harcourt for the Boardmill building. Configuration for street and access had to be changed. Also the tile tanks were in the middle of the park area and where some of the buildings were laid out.
Susan Wood: Do you know why Harcourt had renewed interest in that one building?
Michael Shepard: There’s renewed interest to put a hotel and conference center there.
Pinky Vargas: They’ve been proposing it for a long time but the port commissioners were not interested. Now that there are going to be new port commissioners there’s an opportunity to revisit this. It was never a no. It was, this is not what we are going to do right now.
Michael Shepard: There is also the traffic study.
Pinky Vargas: This is one the people struggle with. There was a problem with getting people over a hill and down, whether driving or not. They chose to make access across an existing street by way of a parkade. You enter on the top, level with the street and you build a parkade so it goes down and down. People can park and walk and be in the Waterfront. But that would change the need for something that would bring everyone way down the hill and over the track.
Michael Shepard: One other thing he hears is there are only two main access points by Roeder and by Cornwall, and without a third to have flow for cars and pedestrians we weren’t able to achieve the density they were looking for in the build-out. That was a planning requirement. They needed more access to build to the density they wanted.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: Michael Lilliquist was questioning whether this was necessary.
Michael Shepard and Pinky Vargas: That’s all they know about it.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: It sounds like they are being responsive to different development interests for what to go in at the Waterfront.
Pinky Vargas: Yes, but mentions the other things just discussed, too.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: It’s surprising that this wasn’t clear two years ago.
Pinky Vargas: It was highly contested. The process was messy. Everybody got a little piece of something, but whether the plan was congruent with what we need to do down there, that may not have been the reality of what we came out with.
Michael Shepard: Reminds people this has always been a vision plan. We are finally transitioning from a vision plan to something that is much more specific and concrete. This creates anxiety for people in the community. The vision plans feels to many people like more than a vision, and like what we have been sold and what’s going to be built for us. The napkin sketch is not a good example of something more specific. It’s important to get public input in the really short term.
Susan Wood: This has been going on for 15 years and we are still visioning. We laugh and say will we still be alive when this happens? Her concern is that renewed interests in buildings can translate to high-rise condos that people out of the area buy (and don’t use) for tax write offs, or some mega hotel that only rich people can stay in so that regular people and their families don’t get to be at the Waterfront.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: Should we email our council members and port commissioners about what we want? Is that the process?
Pinky Vargas: Gives examples of how complex it is to plan building something. Hoping people will understand that sometimes we have to consider what’s a more appropriate fit for something.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: Feels the plans should be narrowing in on something. Can we get examples of some things that are actually not changeable at this point?
Michael Shepard: One thing that is approved and has had good public process is the Subarea Plan. Even though it will be amended, that will be the street grid. There are good aspects of the plan. Has to be at least 30% residential and no more than 60% residential. The plan could be amended but it is not now on the table.
Pinky Vargas: These are fundamental things that people decided they want, so it would be a much harder lift to try and change those things.
Michael Shepard: If district energy is put in , the developer has to use it. That’s exciting because the port just awarded a contract for a four pipe system, both heating and cooling. It’s got specifics, it’s got metrics, it’s got expectations. How it gets drawn out on paper is definitely a work in progress.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: Asked about the street grids.
Pinky Vargas: The zones are laid out but how the streets will actually be drawn, or what building goes on this corner, is unknown at this time. What we know keeps changing. We have no commitments in regards to businesses that are going to come here or people that want to develop things. We don’t have any of that so there’s a lot of speculation.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: Who is paying for these things? Public infrastructure is going to be put in, heating, utilities, streets.
Pinky Vargas: That’s what the city does is put in the infrastructure. That is part of the challenge. The developer has to find funding and interest for a building to be built. Someone has to want to be there, and for it to be cost effective. With district energy we are going to have to put the conduit in. No matter what, anyone who wants to be hooked up to it can be, however, in order for district energy to be cost effective you have to have a certain amount of load. The first couple buildings won’t have district energy. You need to have a big enough load, which requires investment, which requires economic development. We have to find a way to strengthen businesses we have here and bring others here because the tax payers are not going to be footing the bills, but we are for the structural things.
Susan Wood: So the developer is supposed to find those people and businesses but the developer is in Ireland.
Pinky Vargas: This is a very valid point and many people are concerned. Harcourt has people all over the world, but whether they have people here locally to help us build and grow is unknown. The port has been working with Harcourt to find out.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: Housing and earthquakes are things people are concerned about. What standards are going to be used for the housing at the Waterfront, since there is a potential for liquefaction (soil becoming liquid) if an earthquake happens.
Michael Shepard: Everything below the bluff is tidelands. It’s filled with sediments from the bay that were dredged up. It’s filled with garbage in some situations. It’s filled with a variety of things that were placed there and things were placed in layers on top of each other. There are very real concerns about what happens to those lands during seismic events or geological episodes. Those considerations have been addressed in the planning process. This is not news to people who have been working on this. That does take into consideration how the buildings are built, where they’re built and what considerations are made for their construction.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: I think the specific concern is that they’re marked as Site Class E. Site Class F requires a higher standard. This may have to go on a follow up list.
Pinky Vargas: This is a question for someone who is a structural engineer.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: How about community recovery and disaster response?
Pinky Vargas: Every time we do any kind of expansion, the GMA ensures that you address whether you have enough police or fire services. Every time you go through any kind of permitting process that is part of it. It is definitely already included. She doesn’t know where those documents are in regards to under the Waterfront stuff, but it’s all part of the permitting process.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: I’m sure we can get someone to look that up later.
Michael Shepard: This is what the city provides.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: Let’s move on to affordable housing. So there’s a minimum of 30% housing. So is that by area or by square feet or how is that measured?
Pinky Vargas: It is by the entire square footage of the entire plan. The whole footprint.
Michael Shepard: The footprint of the development area.
Susan Wood: So in that whole area there has to be at least 30 and no more than 60 percent housing.
Michael Shepard: Residential.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: Is there any stipulation that any of it be affordable?
Michael Shepard: The first time I heard about this was yesterday with port staff, and Sylvia the Real Estate and Development director, she said that there’s a requirement that 10% of the residential be affordable. He doesn’t know what affordable means in the definition and that’s something he needs to look into more. To find out that there is at least is a minimum percentage is encouraging to him. He would like to see that number be higher. And he would also like to see if affordable is market rate, because market rate isn’t necessarily affordable anymore. Or is that actually what the area median income supports? That’s a major distinction.
Susan Wood: Is that one of those things that’s open to discussion and on which community members could have interest?
Michael Shepard: That would be a great question for people to ask about more, so it’s getting traction. And it’s also something he is going to look into and ask more about.
Pinky Vargas: She is going to put on a contrary hat in regards to affordable housing. She is glad that there is 10% in there but building affordable housing down there is not her number one priority. We absolutely need housing but we can’t take our most expensive land and turn that into something that has no economic benefit. We have to balance those conversations in regards to how things are paid for, the fact that we have to drive some sort of economic development down in this area. She is more focused on getting jobs down at the Waterfront. She would like for the community to do infill in the city and to start there and would like us to focus on creating more jobs and opportunity down there, and then more opportunity for housing.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: Moving on to a question about toxic waste. There’s mercury in the soil and we’re capping it. In the current plans, will these materials be removed or are we going to cap them and build over them? And if we are going to cap them, how are we going to ensure they remain contained.
Michael Shepard: In his understanding most of the area that’s slated for the residential, commercial, park build-out is not the area that has mercury contamination. And this area, for the most part, has all been cleaned up to standards by the port over the last 10 years. That’s all that area you see with the crushed gravel on top. There is mercury on the site. There was a facility over next to the old board mill and another place. That’s the worst of the contamination on the property. It’s the most expensive. It’s the most challenging to deal with. Mercury is a particularly pesky thing to clean and when it’s in the soil, it’s even worse. There are ongoing discussions about capping or removal for the port. We have not done that yet. They have not made the decision or done the removal yet.
Susan Wood: So that’s something that’s still open to discussion.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: She has a couple questions about how people move around. She read through the Subarea Plan, not in its entirety but focused on the minimum parking requirements. More recent theories say that minimum parking requirements work against what we are trying to create. She noticed for the central business district there is a section in the code that provides that the parking director can override minimum parking requirements if it fits within some kind of larger plan for the area. She didn’t see this in the Waterfront district plan. She also read an article by Wes in 2009 that specified that the Waterfront District plan at the time specified it have 12,892 parking spaces – which is a lot of spaces for the area. He recommended less than half of that as a more reasonable number. Has that changed since 2009? What are we thinking now about parking requirements? Are there ways we can be flexible?
Pinky Vargas: We haven’t addressed this part of the plan. She thinks it could be up for discussion. But it goes back to a plan that was developed over many, many years. And she thinks as a society we are shifting and are realizing some of our old decisions may not be benefitting that. There are things we need to revisit. As a city right now, we are looking at all of our housing and all of our zoning and some of those minimum parking requirements. If we start having this conversation as a city and we start exploring it and we take a look at how that’s effecting our decisions and how we’re planning right now, you better believe, as we implement things here, we’re going to make sure these are things we know are better for the city. This has not been up for discussion yet, but she is guessing it will be.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: So that would be good thing to make comments on. Related to that, and specified in the Subarea Plan, the vehicle lanes for most of the streets are 12 feet which are the same as on a highway. It really is conducive to fast vehicle travel. 10 would be more conducive for 20 mile an hour traffic that I would imagine we are expecting down on the Waterfront. Having 10 foot lanes instead of 12 foot lanes would mean you could even have protected cycle tracks on those streets. The narrative part of the Subarea Plan talks about cycle tracks, separated bike path, separated pedestrian areas. But when you look at the street cutaway, that’s not what’s shown. So since it’s in the Subarea Plan would that require an amendment to update?
Pinky Vargas: Yeah, it would require an amendment.
Michael Shepard: Now, I think that’s in part of the amendment that’s coming with the new street grid.
Pinky Vargas: Not as big as some of the things in the Subarea Plan, but yes. And partly because you’d have to have a different engineering study to say why this works vs. that works, to say if you’re going to have a big conference center, you’re going to need big trucks to be able to get down there or if you’re going to have some kind of plant that’s going to have some kind of machinist shop and is going to need to unload these kinds of sizes of trucks. So these are the things that engineering is going to have to look at and say, “Is this still feasible to do what we want to in 10 feet? Yeah we can.” Then, why not look at it?
Susan Wood: It seems like there’s this domino effect that this has to happen before you can make that decision. Well, we don’t know if there’s going to be a conference center with trucks going into it. We don’t know if we’re going to need a machinist plant because we don’t have a developer that’s bringing in businesses that say they’re going to be there. So basically we’re stuck. Something has to happen before something else can happen, right?
Elizabeth Hartsoch: Yes and no, because you could have a feeder street that was built to accommodate large trucks and then all the other streets could be – you definitely want to separate modes. We wouldn’t want to be encouraging bicycles in the same area we are encouraging semi trucks. She doesn’t see that as a major issue. But what she thinks is going on is that it had defaulted to 12 feet and no-one has thought about it since then.
Pinky Vargas: It may not be that no one has though about it, but it’s because we don’t know what’s going to happen. Sometimes she thinks things are revisited again when we have more information. So: we planned for this, but do we need that? Maybe not.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: As a person who has an idea about what she wants to see on the Waterfront, she sees 12 foot lanes and she thinks 12 foot lanes facilitate 60 mph traffic. And if that’s just in there and if that’s what’s built, then that’s going to create a problem for us down the road. She understands what Pinky is saying but she doesn’t want to have to be reading the Subarea Plan every time it’s amended as just a person that’s interested in the Waterfront because she lives close by. How do people know that the vision that’s stated in the text is what’s going to be built, as opposed to the drawing?
Michael Shepard: He thinks that’s the need for more of these open house kinds of meetings where staff from both the city and the port are available to have these kinds of conversations because those are the people who are immersed in every detail and folks like he and Pinky don’t have their finger on every detail. Somebody like Sylvia at the port or Tara at the city really do.
Pinky Vargas: When she read some of the questions she thought these are more for Public Works and Structural Engineers who are completely immersed in this, who know, “well, actually we tried to do that street that way but that actually doesn’t work.” They are the subject matter experts on this stuff. It’s not her expertise.
Susan Wood: It seems like everything is stuck, that there’s lots of people with lots of information, the plan is rightly in flux depending on what’s going to happen and we don’t know anything because we don’t know what’s going to happen. When will we know what’s going to happen? How do we make something happen? Because for 15 years nothing has happened in any substantive way that as a community member, she can see has happened. She can see the gravel is flattened. That doesn’t mean she has access. There’s no restaurant to go to, there’s no business development that’s bringing money into the community. So, how does something happen? When does something happen?
Pinky Vargas: The other day we dug shovels to say this is where our street is going to go. So that street is now under construction. That’s our first one behind Granary and Laurel.
Michael Shepard: So that’s our first one unstuck. For an example the granary building, through community effort, has been saved. It’s a beautiful building. The heart of ivy is still there. It’s going to be a lovely place. But people ask why there’s no tenants in there. One reason is the roads have not been built yet. There’s no access. And there’s also no utilities. You can’t flush a toilet because there’s no water. Power and sewer have not been connected because those utilities come under the road that is being put in. And so there are just some structural limitations to our building to move forward. But over next year, by the end of the fall, that road is going to be going in and the initial park, Waypoint park will be under construction.
Pinky Vargas: Actually Waypoint Park will be finished in the spring of 2018. Right now the granary is there, and there is a street, and that’s how you drive in and you get around the granary building. That’s all going to be closed. This street is going to be built and all of this part considered Phase 1 of the Waterfront, this will all be open by spring 2018. And they will have toilets flushing.
Michael Shepard: When you can flush a toilet that’s when you know a house has been built.
Susan Wood: So there’s the city council and the port, and for people who live in the UGA, where do they fit in?
Pinky Vargas: Where they fit in is that they use the city perhaps as much as people who use the city when they go to work and then they go home at night. She thinks all the influences, people in Whatcom County who will actually be down at the Waterfront, who are going to be using the parks, all of that has to be put into account because it’s not just the people who are right there who are going to be using the Waterfront. This big beautiful thing that we’ve imagined, we can imagine taking all of our guests down there and it being a destination. Parks, tourism, economic development, jobs, all of these things effect everyone in Whatcom County.
Susan Wood: Sometimes she worries that if she’s five miles out of city limits, does that mean the city council care what she says?
Pinky Vargas: The Port is county wide.
Susan Wood: She knows that the port is. Addressing Pinky: “you’ve always been very gracious in answering questions I’ve had. Thank you very much.”
Elizabeth Hartsoch: There’s a question, why don’t we have design standards that mandate LEED certification?
Pinky Vargas: Why don’t you ask the legislature. There are many many benefits to LEED design, also many levels. LEED design is usually one building at a time. So each building has to have certain specifications. If you look at mapping that onto every single building, that is way more intensive. But if you take a whole approach on an entire area and do something like, how can we reduce our carbon footprint on an entire area, not just one building? And you look at things like district energy, how can we make sure we are doing our habitats so that they are good for the wildlife and good for our fish, etc? Then you look at it as an all-encompassing thing. Since LEED design is building per building, it would actually be up to the individual who is doing the building what the design is.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: Does the city not require that people building here have LEED certification?
Pinky Vargas: She doesn’t think that we can. She is not positive, but doesn’t think so, partly because LEED has very specific standards and those don’t fluctuate, but what you use in terms of a platinum or silver or whatever those are, you might have a check list of 30 things and you have to meet 15 of those in order to get that design. That might be completely different than the person that’s going across the street.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: It just seems like if it was something, the city could require it as part of zoning or something like that, then it could, and if not, then now.
Pinky Vargas: She’s not sure but she thinks they can’t say just one area has to be LEED design. She thinks as a city they would have to say, but she doesn’t think so. That’s why she said something about the legislature because if we all agreed on what certain building standards were and everybody was on the same page in the state it would be easier, because we have building standards and things. And most of the building standards have changed a lot in the last couple years. A lot of them are way more environmentally friendly, way more energy efficient and they’re looking at the holistic approach to building. The actual building standards have been raised to a point where, personally she feels we can still go up a little bit more, but they have been raised a lot in regards to what we are aware of. LEED design takes a lot more investment. She works in a LEED building so she knows how wonderful that can be. She also knows there are positives and negatives in LEED design. They don’t always look at the people who are going to work inside. And often the building design is about the building. So there are pluses and minuses to all of those things. So having to say you guys all have to do this is probably going to take us out of the game in regards to who wants to come and be down there because it’s going to be more expensive. They’re going to have to do things a certain way. They’re not going to have flexibility on it. It would limit us and I don’t know if we can do that just for one area.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: Could an oversight committee be formed to oversee the whole process, I guess citizen oversight is what this person is getting at, that would provide a means of communicating with the community on what’s happening?
Michael Shepard: There was a proposal early on from the Waterfront Futures group that there would be a community development agency that would be set up. That didn’t move forward much past that initial planning. So we don’t have that set in place. The concern with a citizen’s advisory group is that will that make the project align with more of what we want, which is good, but will that also make the project drag on a lot longer? If we have a citizen advisory group that comes up and says we want things substantially different from where we have been headed, there’s some pluses and minuses there. Certainly one of the criticisms that a lot of people are very sensitive to, is that the project has been going on for too long. They want to see action, they want things to get done. They don’t want to see us visit the planning process from ground zero. He thinks that the role for a citizen group to be involved is still important and we could direct that energy through the existing public process.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: I think what we’re getting at with that question is that there are three players, and from the outside it’s hard to know who’s going to make what decisions at what point. One thing, a little while ago when we were talking about public process and she thought Michael said there were going to be two opportunities for public engagement, one would be the amendment to the Subarea Plan in April and what was the other?
Michael Shepard: The other was the open house through the port that he is advocating for, and staff seems to be in agreement for hosting, starting in January. He thinks those would be nice public opportunities to engage. He encourages any citizens to get together and really think about this, review the plans that have been put forth, come to city council meetings, come to port commissioners meetings. He knows those are not the best opportunity for everybody, but those are the public processes that we do have on a monthly basis. They do happen twice a month and those are existing opportunities.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: The problem is, as a civic activist, this is one of 14 important topics that she would like to be engaged in. And she can’t go to 14 meetings a month. So the message maybe is that yes, we see that there’s a port website with documents, there’s a city website with documents. She can read the documents and she has read quite a few of the documents. Still one of her questions is, can we draw a diagram of which document is what. They refer to each other. She has even worked in planning in the past. There are these references to the WAC and to the municipal code and you start looking at that, and those refer to themselves, and it’s just not going to be a thing that we all engage in on an everyday basis. It’s got to be in real English and whatever other languages is needs to be in. She is hoping that something like this event tonight is part of how we get there. She really appreciates Michael and Pinky’s willingness to spend the time, especially after they both had 12 hour days that day with parenting and working, etc. She just thinks there’s no way people like her are going to come to all the meetings.
Pinky Vargas: And she doesn’t always know. She might read things, but she doesn’t know because there are 3 different entities here. So the port might come up with an idea, and by the time that process comes to the city, other people might already know about it before she does and people will be asking her questions and she hasn’t even seen it yet. It is challenging and incredibly complex dealing with 3 different entities. You’re right, there’s nobody offering oversight to give us an overview, and maybe that is something that could be helpful. Maybe it is something that we could ask for from all of these entities, to have something that’s like a flow chart that says the city builds the streets, and the port – that is actually a great idea and it would be a helpful thing even for her because sometimes she has to think who’s responsible for a specific facet of the project. So this could be asked for and be put on both the city and port’s websites to say here’s a little overview to say who does what. We are really good at all the intense details but we’re not always good at framing something so people can follow along. Even if that’s the main thing we get out of this to move forward so people can understand that would be really good.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: There’s a question that’s related to this. Who is the project manager? Who is responsible to hold Harcourt’s feet to the fire and keep them accountable. She thinks maybe this is what we are searching for, someone who knows all the things and is willing to do AMAs with us on a regular basis.
Michael Shepard: The project manager is the executive director of the port.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: So Rob Fix is the project manager and is he the person that knows all of the things that are going on and has the flow chart in his brain?
Michael Shepard: Between him and the port staff and the senior planning at the city, that’s where most of the work has been happening over the last 12 years. Harcourt has come into the fold. They have a more tangential part of the planning process. They are designing what some buildings would look like and where they would go and what sequence they would be built in and things like that, but all of the detail stuff is happening between the city and the port.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: Her experience in engaging with the city and county – she hasn’t tried engaging with the port in the past – it’s mixed. When Pinky is saying, well, that detail is something you would talk to about to a public works engineer, etc. That happens and sometimes that’s really helpful. Other times it seems like you get the answer and there’s not a lot of responsiveness about how anything could be. Coming from the outside, you get the answer that’s the public answer and it doesn’t seem like an engaged process. The other piece of this is that she recently came to a place in the bicycle master plan where what was on the plan was a bike lane, the street got repaved. She kept waiting for a bike lane to go in and it turned out that in the bicycle master plan, there was an inconsistency within the plan where they had forgotten to add that section of road to the section where they were going to remove parking, and that they added as a bike lane. So there was a bike lane and they forgot to remove parking in the plan, so the default was to leave parking.
Susan Wood: So why is that the default? – yeah.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: That’s why I am voicing these concerns. So we are saying we’re going to have bike lanes but then we have 60 mph lane width, our concerns are that in the past there are mistakes within a plan that have real implications about how things get built. She hears what they are saying. They want that flexibility, they want to be responsive, but we’ve also been burned before.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: This was great and she really appreciates Michael and Pinky being there. She knows we have a lot of questions that we didn’t get specific answers to, so she is probably going to go about recruiting people to dig up those answers and publish them at some point, and then we can move forward. Now we have some ideas on how.
Susan Wood: How will we know where those meetings are and how will we know to go to them?
Michael Shepard: Once the port schedules the initial series of meetings, those would be broadcast on the port website and also through the city.
Pinky Vargas: And on the city website, on the front page, if you just go to “meetings,” there will be a calendar for the year for all of the city meetings.
Susan Wood: Are you 2 allowed, when those meetings are coming up, to post something on the Riveters site and say, “Hey remember that AMA we did, when you asked about those meetings at the first of the year? It’s coming up.” In case people don’t go to the city. She doesn’t go to the city web page.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: Even if it’s a subscription to a Twitter feed or whatever place that gets updated.
Pinky Vargas: What she can do, is she will talk to the city council admin support and she will ask her, since she reviews the agendas, sometimes she knows before the city council members do, to see if she can maybe send reminders anytime that we are doing something on the Waterfront, to remind her to put a notification.
Susan Wood: It’s so hard to figure out where the material is and how to find it.
Pinky Vargas: Even she, who is in it, she works a full time job, so sometimes she picks up her packet and is reading it and she gets it on Thursday and will be done by Sunday. So sometimes she will be so into all the things she has to learn that in a few days, that she’s not always thinking about who else needs to know what’s happening.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: No, it’s not Pinky’s job personally. The city needs to have some sort of push notification system.
Pinky Vargas: Last year they actually talked about it and they made a lot of changes, because one thing that she learned after being council chair was, she gets into the work but is not necessarily great at communication. And so we revised our entire communication plan, so now when you go to the city website, we’ve got things that we know are hot topics for people, like Housing and Waterfront. Now, Waterfront will get its own little button, or everything for Incarceration has its own button, so you know that you can look up these particular subjects and they’re a lot easier to find.
Susan Wood: It seems then that’s more on us, since they have got that up.
Elizabeth Hartsoch: If there’s not going to be a true push notification then we have to recruit someone from the Riveters Collective who’s would watch the Waterfront button.
Pinky Vargas: Thanks for having us. Thanks for your interest.
Michael Shepard: Thank you. He just wants to state that this is the time to be involved. He appreciates Riveters Collective offering to host this event.