Justice Project recommendations: The Bellingham City Council will discuss at its regular meeting on February 13, 2023, the work of a panel of residents and government officials who have been studying our community’s need for a new jail along with support services and jail alternative programs. The committee’s report — Whatcom County Justice Project Needs Assessment – establishes a vision, values and goals for the criminal legal system in Whatcom County and makes recommendations to address the community’s public health, safety and justice facility needs. While this effort is led by Whatcom County, City officials have been actively involved in developing these recommendations, represented on the committee by Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood, Council members Michael Lilliquist and Dan Hammill, and various senior staff. For more information and links to the report, visit the Justice Project page of the Whatcom County website.
Tiny home resident safety: HomesNow recently was granted a one-year extension for the Unity Village tiny home encampment located on City property in Fairhaven. Questions have been raised about why we included a condition requiring that HomesNow stop using this location for collection and storage of community donations intended for other agencies. The condition was added to help ensure public health and life safety conditions are maintained, addressing concerns that donations and other items were stored in ways that prevented safe egress and created a potential fire hazard jeopardizing the tiny home residents’ safety. This was in response to walk throughs conducted on the site. We are not preventing or precluding donations, but simply requiring donations be accepted for the tenants of the encampment only and stored safely. Visit the Community Planning Notices webpage to view the extension request for additional details.
ICYMI – Get a sneak preview of our new Pacific Street Operations Center in this short video produced by our BTV team. Please join us for a tour and open house, 4-6 p.m. March 1, 2023.
Improving Public Spaces
Supporting fish passage: The City of Bellingham, Nooksack Indian Tribe, Lummi Nation and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife recently formalized shared goals of improving fish passage and continuing to work together to replace culverts that block salmon migration. Through a historic agreement, we committed to continuing our work together to improve salmon access to upstream spawning grounds. The City has been proactively restoring fish passage throughout Bellingham for years. Upon signing the agreement, Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood noted: “We look forward to accelerating our work with the support of both local tribes and the state. We are honored to be part of this historic agreement, acknowledging the value and importance of moving forward as partners and allies.” The agreement outlines a framework and next steps to build on the City’s substantial work inventorying, fixing and replacing culverts that block fish passage. This work is funded by Bellingham’s Surface and Stormwater Utility and substantial grants, such as a recent $456,206 grant from NOAA using funds from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Birchwood Park improvements: Improvements are underway at Birchwood Park! A permanent restroom was installed this week (see photo at top of page) and planning is underway for a bicycle pump track, made possible through our partnership with the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition and with generous community donations. Learn more on the Birchwood Park Improvements page.
Tree planting: Deciduous trees are dormant right now so it’s a great time to plant them. You may see City crews replacing some street trees that are dead, dying or have been damaged. Tree planting has been underway along Alabama, Meridian and State streets and Britton Road. Some planting takes extra effort by our crews such as those within the Lake Whatcom watershed, where additional requirements are in place to protect our drinking water. Our crews pictured below needed permits, a dry day, and special equipment to meet land-disturbing requirements and avoid underground utilities. If you notice a dead or damaged tree, please report it to us via SeeClickFix.