July 29, 2019 Dena Jensen
The Whatcom County Business and Commerce Advisory Committee is recommending that Whatcom County declare a housing emergency – not from the perspective of current residents not having affordable and ample shelter – but from the perspective that employers who want to grow their businesses want to potentially import hundreds of workers at a time from outside of our county. The committee gave a presentation to the County Council’s Finance and Administrative Services Committee on July 9, 2019.
On this last week’s KGMI Saturday Morning Live radio show, ( which wasn’t live on Saturday. I listened to a podcast on Thursday) Lorraine Newman interviewed the Port of Bellingham’s Director of Economic Development Don Goldberg. He is facilitating Whatcom County’s Business and Commerce Advisory Committee, made up mostly of members which Don Goldberg recommended and whom Council Members Sidhu and Browne supported and urged other Council Members to support.
Mr. Goldberg compared declaring this business housing emergency to situations in which a natural disaster of some sort occurs and an emergency is declared, where authorities are allowed to overrule current regulations to promptly address dire consequences. Mr. Goldberg emphasized that the committee’s intent is for things to still be built safely, however he was talking about doing things like annexing County lands for these business housing purposes.
This is something we should be paying close attention to because it involves giving up community control to executive decisions when it can result in negative impacts, especially to those people, other life forms, and resources which exist right here in our community already, and for which we have put regulations in place to protect.