April 2, 2022 Dena Jensen
At Whatcom County Council’s March 22, 2022 public hearing regarding the Ordinance that Council Members Donovan and Galloway proposed for repealing Ordinance 2022-005, temporary closure of Gulf Road, many people turned out to voice their desire to retain vehicular access to a beach area that they testified was a very important element to the well-being in their lives.
The Council ultimately voted 4-3 to repeal the ordinance temporarily closing Gulf Road, but there was some Council discussion prior to the vote. During that discussion, Council Member Kaylee Galloway had indicated that the issue of the Gulf Road closure had raised her awareness about many issues that need to be addressed, among which were the issue of public access to beaches, County infratructure needs, elements of the Shoreline Master Plan and Comprehensive Plan, and government to government relationships with Lummi Nation.
Meanwhile, Council Member Elenbaas conveyed that while he acknowledged the unanimous community input supporting access to the beach, he was empathetic with the land owner – Pacific International Holdings / Skip Sahlin – regarding people potentially trespassing on their beach-front property. He indicated he would like the Council to pursue a solution to help resolve PIH’s concerns.
One of the solutions Council Member Elenbaas proposed was a suggestion that RE Sources raise funds to purchase the property and create public access and parks there. Council Member Elenbaas volunteered that he would help RE Sources raise the funds.
However, I have a suggestion that would avoid that unnecessary and ironic effort and which would also provide some reparations for all the time, effort, and money spent by Lummi Nation to prevent Pacific International Holdings’ Gateway Pacific coal terminal project from further desecrating their traditional territories and abrogating their treaty rights. PIH could restore the land to the Lummi people who continue, year after year, to share their hospitality to the Whatcom County Community in bountiful and myriad ways.