On March 14, 2022, a presentation was given on RV parking code enforcement by Bellingham Police Department’s Public Information Officer, Lieutenant Claudia Murphy to Bellingham City Council’s Committee of the Whole. This presentation was given about three and a half months after City of Bellingham had initiated rigorous parking code enforcement following the lifting of the statewide ban on evictions.
Dear Bellingham City Council, Mayor Fleetwood, Whatcom County Council, and County Executive Sidhu:
Over the last week or two, I have been reviewing body worn camera recordings of Bellingham Police Department’s Public Information Officer, Lt. Claudia Murphy related to City of Bellingham’s increase in parking enforcement during the current pandemic.
Subject: Regarding RV parking enforcement and equity in our community
Dear Bellingham City Council:
Yesterday I was able to listen to most of your March 14, 2022 Committee of the Whole meeting, and your entire discussion related to the “Update on RV’s and the 72 hour Rule.”
First, I would like to mention the part of the committee discussion on enforcing parking code for RVs where Bellingham Police Department Lieutenant Claudia Murphy responded to Bellingham City Council Chair Hannah Stone talking about the challenge of packing up camping gear increasing in relation to how often people might have to do that. It was apparent in the discussion that most of the community members undergoing code enforcement were living in their RVs as their primary shelter.
Three years have passed since the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County governments held a joint discussion that broached the subject of advance planning for severe weather shelters without action being taken to do so. But on Tuesday, February 8, 2022, Whatcom County Council finally authorized an interlocal agreement between the two government bodies to provide winter shelters during severe weather emergencies.
Subject: Calling for more sheltering and services and less policing
Dear Mayor Fleetwood and Bellingham City Council:
I don’t know what question was asked by the reporter or what the exact statement was that Mayor Fleetwood made, but the following acknowledgement of the mayor’s that was highlighted in the February 2, 2022 Cascadia Daily article, “Bellingham hires security to patrol downtown,”
On Friday, January 28, 2022, I submitted a records request for the contract the City of Bellingham has entered into with Risk Solutions Unlimited related to currently providing security personnel who, the City has said, “are scheduled 24 hours a day, 7 days a week as part of an initiative to support a safe, clean, welcoming downtown.” I received a copy of the contract today, of which people can access a copy at this link: https://noisywatersnw.files.wordpress.com/2022/01/rsu_contract_-_downtown_security.pdf
In a communications document from early last year, with the header “Winter Into Spring Communications Strategy,” shared in an email by Bellingham Parks and Recreation Director Nicole Oliver, there was an outline point that stated, “Health Dept. recommends no government-run emergency winter shelters in future.”
Back in November it was just a statement at a City Council committee meeting and more narrowly focused on homeless sheltering: “We are doing what we can locally. We will not meet the demand. We will never meet the demand.”
At the December 2, 2021 Whatcom County Coalition to End Homelessness (WCCEH) meeting that took place over Zoom, Whatcom County Human Services Supervisor Ann Beck prefaced her update on Whatcom County winter sheltering efforts by saying it had been a bad day at work for her. She explained that would be the reason, should she tear up at any point during her presentation. Beck also shared that she was due to attend another meeting related to the heavy flooding that has displaced unprecedented numbers of people in the County.
Bellingham City Council held their November 15, 2021 Special Meeting – Public Comment session tonight. These sessions are not recorded. I have been trying to record each of them, myself, so I have a record of what our community members want their representatives to know. And I keep and submit a written copy of my comments via EngageBellingham, because over half of Council Members do not attend the public comment session each week that they occur, so they apparently never get to hear what has been said.