Wow, it sure looks like the Bellingham firefighters are demonstrating how damaging the public employee union can be to the public. The union’s current selfish refusal to honor a previous agreement with county citizens to get voter approval for Medic One taxes should cause our county council to rethink county participation with Bellingham. From a county taxpayer’s standpoint this has been a faulty agreement. County taxpayers contribute a large sum of money to the program yet our elected council has very little financial oversight or policy participation in Medic One. This problem will grow if we don’t act now. Let’s have a Medic One program that the county funds and controls.
Trillium’s 1,246 residential-unit Planned Unit Development (PUD) will further devalue existing properties and thereby increase property and other forms of taxation for decades. This is because the average number of homes sold per year in all of Blaine through 2005, was 21 units. The original Resort Semiahmoo Master Development Plan (RSMDP) approved 2,400 units of density in 1985, while approximately 120 were recently added to the Semiahmoo Spit.
To that, one must add the 450 residences that Horizons on Semiahmoo represents (or was it 650), for a total just for the western side of Blaine of 2,970 houses, not including thousands more approved in eastern Blaine. In the 25-year period since the RSMDP was established only approximately 750 homes have been built in Semiahmoo, leaving an unused supply of 2,220 units of existing residential density in the area.
If the county council were to approve this newest PUD there will be 3,466 unsold residences in inventory which, when divided by this actual 21-unit average per year, represents a period of 165 years to sell. It is called the law of supply and demand. Over-speculation in real estate is a disastrous form of economic exploitation because for most people their home is their largest financial asset.
Even people who do not own a house must pay the inevitable tax increases required to establish new public infrastructure especially since neither Blaine nor Whatcom County charge impact fees to the developers of projects. Contrary to the mayor’s statements, there are no urban levels of service existing in the designated forestland zoning of this West Blaine PUD, the investment made by the landowner on almost all of it was at the forestry tax-exempt rate of $22 per acre. I ask: How did Seagrass Cottages benefit Blaine? Did Horizon create any permanent jobs? What does Marin contribute financially to the community? Fact is, over 100 of Semiahmoo’s existing 750 homeowners have already listed their homes for sale (13.3 percent) and if others thought they could recover what they invested they too would leave. It appears Blaine’s city government is killing the goose that laid the golden eggs.
We wrote a letter to you last week about Trumpeter swans dying of lead poisoning. We would like to correct ourselves. The swan population is not declining. The Trumpeter swan population is actually increasing each year. They are still dying of lead poisoning though. Even though the swans are becoming more populous, it does not mean that lead poisoning is not an issue anymore. The lead poisoning is still a very important issue and we cannot turn a blind eye. We are sorry for our error in our previous letter. Thank you.
Gretchen, Jessica, Nicole &
Katie, Blaine middle school
As a poet once suggested, “If winter’s here, can spring be far behind?” Hopefully soon, then the songs of birds will entrance our souls.
Yep, I’m still at it, another plea to save our songbirds!
As I’ve noted before in The Northern Light, free roaming pet and feral cats are the second major cause of songbird extinctions; habitat destruction remains number one.
Citizens, may I again suggest that you keep your beloved cats confined (they’ll be safer and kept healthier by the way) or at least restrain your pets from about mid-April until mid-June when the fledglings are so vulnerable. Should you observe irresponsible neighbors with kittens running wild, unspayed and destined to feral extinction, report these events to the humane society.
Habitat destruction: In Canada, for example, recent surveys concluded that populations of certain birds have been reduced up to 70 percent. Locally, (if I may be so bold) there are occasional developments not only harmful to wildlife, but toxic to scenic landscapes. The beauty of our environment is certainly worthy of protection.
Let sleeping dogs lie and UGAs too!
It appears with the election of a new county council that may be more favorable to development, many Whatcom County urban growth area issues are reappearing, among them the west Blaine UGA as articulated by Blaine mayor Bonnie Onyon, Trillium Corporation and some others.
Your readers may recall that in 2009, with much public input, the west Blaine UGA issue was vetted by the county executive, the planning commission and the county council. All reached the same conclusion after careful consideration that the projected population growth for Blaine over the next 20 years does not warrant the continuation of west Blaine as a UGA. Rather, Blaine was encouraged to infill areas closer to the city, including east Blaine, which has already been annexed complete with urban levels of service – sewer, water and electricity. Blaine was also granted other areas closer to the city for expansion.
Mayor Onyon claims that urban levels of service are established in west Blaine.
Except for Semiahmoo, this is clearly not the case and it is unclear how the city could afford to establish these under its current and projected revenue outlook. Further, the previous director of development for Blaine admitted in an earlier application that west Blaine does not conform to the criteria that the city itself established for UGAs, in part because of the lacking urban service level issue, but also including its remoteness from public facilities and services such as schools.
It is perhaps understandable that, for a richer tax-base, the city of Blaine may want the re-establishment of West Blaine as a UGA, but the basic fact remains that this is not an appropriate area for development at this time.
Add to this the number of Semiahmoo homes currently for sale, the failure of a single unit at the Marin development on the spit to sell, the lack of any sales at the nearby Horizons development, the vested, but as yet unexecuted Trillium plans for the Seagrass Cottages, Burnside Village and Semiahmoo Village. These developments alone, should they ever come to fruition, will more than accommodate those wishing to buy property and live in this area.
Therefore, we hope that both the Blaine City Council and the Whatcom County Council will not revive the west Blaine UGA since it is both unneeded and unwise during these economic times.
Keats and Gail Garman
As a publicly educated student most of my entire life, I can attest to its relative successes. Public high school in Blaine served me well for four years. I write to you today as a student still engaged in the public education system at Washington State University. It is for this reason that I implore you to allow the state to collect revenue.
Even I must admit that our state has poorly handled its finances of late. We must, both for now and in the future, begin to look at long-term budgets that can keep our state vital and sustainable. However, we cannot accomplish either task if higher education is poorly funded.
More and more students are being asked to shoulder the economic burden of college. Tuition at state universities is slated to go up another 14 percent next year and again after that. In the time that I attend WSU, I could see my tuition rise by almost 40 percent over four years. This is completely unacceptable.
The purpose of state institutions is to provide students the opportunity to be educated at a reasonable cost. If the student is forced to leave with crippling debt, how can they be expected to return to the system that gave so much to them?
Please contact your legislature and tell them that cuts to higher education hurt all of us. By collecting revenue, we can forestall damaging cuts to our departments.
For now, we must preserve essential programs. Do not force faculties out of their jobs. Do not diminish the quality of our education. And please do not turn your backs on the students of Washington state.
Sunny weather means the start of baseball and softball season. Blaine Youth Baseball & Fastpitch is now in full swing for sign-ups through March 3. You can pick up or drop off sign sheets at Sports Unlimited. We are anticipating another fun filled season involving almost 300 youths from our community!
If you would like to help, we are in need of sponsors and coaches.
For more information please visit our website at www.BlaineYouthBaseballFastpitch.com