City Council considers code changes to aid in pandemic response

People urged to stay home, meeting attendance may exceed social distancing recommendations

March 22, 2020

Proposed code changes intended to aid in the City of Bellingham’s response to COVID-19 have generated strong interest from gun rights advocates who incorrectly believe the City is considering a prohibition on guns at the March 23 Bellingham City Council meeting.

Bellingham City Council President Gene Knutson and Mayor Seth Fleetwood urge people to protect their health by staying home. They invite people to engage with Council via email, letter and telephone and to view the meeting live online or watch on BTV.

“We are committed to keeping our residents, Council members and staff safe,” Mayor Fleetwood said. “False rumors circulating on social media that claim the Mayor and Council are proposing to ban guns are completely untrue. These rumors are a side-show and an irresponsible distraction that take attention away from our emergency response efforts and away from our most important message: protect your health, stay home.”

Council President Knutson said strong social distancing measures will be in place for the meeting, including strictly limiting the number of attendees allowed in the Council Chambers.

Essential business only,​​​ no public comment

Earlier this month Council President Knutson announced that public comment periods and public hearings are suspended for now and only essential business will be conducted at Council meetings, to discourage people from attending against health guidance.

The Council invites general comments or input for agenda items by email, letter or telephone. The public is encouraged to watch remotely, as the meetings are broadcast live and recorded for later viewing.

False rumors generate inte​​rest in meeting  

Interest in the March 23 meeting has largely been generated by false rumors. At the meeting, Council will consider a code change, among other COVID-19 related items. The code change proposal to amend BMC 2.57, relating to the emergency powers of the Mayor, amends the process and timeframe for City Council confirmation of the Mayor’s actions. The changes are procedural in nature.   

“The proposed changes will allow us to be more responsive to emergency needs while retaining important checks and balances in place through Council oversight of Mayoral actions,” Mayor Fleetwood said.

“No action is being taken or proposed at this meeting that relates to banning guns, and any rumors about changes to firearms regulations, rumors about martial law, or rumors about closing city streets, are false.”

Take actions to reduce the​ spread of COVID-19

Mayor Fleetwood said the City and the unified agencies working together on COVID-19 responses are “implementing solutions as fast as we can.”

“We are taking steps large and small to help our community, actions that residents are requesting and actions that we anticipate will be welcome relief for those affected,” he said.

Mayor Fleetwood and Council President Knutson urge members of the public to stay home and follow other health recommendations and state directives intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19. For information, visit

More inform​ation

Media Contact

Monea Kerr
Bellingham City Council Office
(360) 778-8202

Janice Keller
Mayor’s Office
City of Bellingham
(360) 778-8100​


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