Inside Bellingham Weekly: January 20, 2023

A weekly news roundup from the City of Bellingham

January 20, 2023 - by Janice Keller, Communications Director

Now is the time: Thank you to everyone who joined in and/or helped host MLK Day events held throughout our community last weekend, making connections and promoting opportunities to honor Dr. King’s legacy and his vision of creating a beloved community through democracy, equity and inclusion. A link to a recording of the event pictured above will soon be posted here.

What’s new with ADUs? We’re pleased to see extensive community conversation about our proposed ADU rules, set for a City Council public hearing on Monday, January 23, 2023. Expanding ADUs (accessory dwelling units, also known as “mother-in-law units”) is an important strategy for increasing housing options in our community. New ADU rules now being considered will allow more of them to be built by streamlining our review processes and refining development standards. Learn more about ADUs, the extensive background work that has been underway to update ADU requirements, and the issues that are sparking conversation, in the January 23 City Council agenda materials and on the Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) page of the City website.

Alternative response launched: Bellingham has a new program that will send a behavioral health specialist and a public health nurse to respond to specific non-violent behavioral health 911 calls within Bellingham city limits. Based out of the Whatcom County Health Department, the program is operated through partnerships that include the City of Bellingham, What-Comm 911 and Compass Health. Details here.

Exemption extended: The limited time exemption for certain items covered by the single-use plastics ordinance (BMC 9.32), such as produce bags, catering trays, clear food wrap and shrink wrap, has been extended through December 31, 2023. The ordinance, which went into effect in July 2022, allows the City to extend the exemption when there are not at least two suitable and readily commercially available compostable alternatives to single-use plastic food service products. Learn more about single-use plastic restrictions in Bellingham.

Serve your community: Are you looking for ways to contribute? Serving on one of our 24 City boards, commissions and committees offers community members opportunities to serve in meaningful ways. We consistently have a number of vacancies. Check the Boards and Commissions page of the City website for details, including an application form and the vacancy list, which is updated regularly.

Improving Public Spaces

Construction delay: Construction of the 2.4-acre estuary in Little Squalicum Park has been delayed while a modification to the channel design is confirmed with Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway. We expect heavy construction to be complete and full public access to be restored by the end of September 2023. In the meantime, the project site remains closed due to on-site hazards. Please visit the project webpage to find information about park access. This project would not be possible without the support of our community, funders, and landowners and we appreciate everyone’s patience during this delay.


Tiny homes: Last month, Gardenview tiny house village added 5 more tiny houses for homeless seniors and medically fragile adults and couples in Bellingham. We’re proud to partner with the Low-Income Housing Institute (LIHI) and Road2Home (R2H) on this project and grateful that even more vulnerable residents will receive shelter and support. The new tiny houses were built by LIHI and Road2Home, with support from the City, Mount Baker Foundation and community donors.

Get involved: Interested in helping vulnerable residents on their journey back to housing? Road2Home has two areas where volunteers are essential: Trained volunteers support Severe Weather Programs this winter and the Volunteer Ally Program pairs volunteers with people experiencing homelessness to support them by providing companionship and connections. Visit for details.

Media Contact

Janice Keller, Communications Director or (360) 778-8100


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