Housing

Big Picture
  • The secret is out, the Pacific Northwest is a fantastic place to live. However, that means that housing prices are only going up as thousands of people move here. We cannot stop growth, but we can choose HOW we grow.
  • Housing prices are a function of supply and demand. In the last 2-3 years, Whatcom County has been building like crazy and every house is selling the moment it hits the market. This is great if you have money to burn, but for those of us working hard and struggling to get by, it means high prices and compromises. 
Solutions
  • We need more housing. To help this, we need to direct the County Planning Department to provide more flexibility when it comes to design standards. This does not mean compromising our environmental standards, this means working with developers to ensure that they meet their commitments (for impact fees, wetland mitigation, etc) while giving them options on how to arrange their plats, and design their houses. Much of this is technical, but it boils down to a simple rule - find a way to say yes to more housing in our community. 
  • Encourage more ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units). This is an easy way to provide more housing without expending public dollars. By permitting more ADUs, you provide opportunities for home owners to add value to their property without continuing sprawl.  Since we do not want to exacerbate the county problem with exempt wells (and water supply issues), we are forced to look closer at ways to provide more housing to those that are part of community water supplies.  This means smart ADU's in areas that have space, parking and ample utilities available. 
  • Public/Private Partnerships. With Housing Block Grants on the chopping block, Whatcom County needs to take up the torch and build more income restricted housing. We've had great success in Bellingham with the Walton Place 1 and 2 developments that built quality housing with public and private dollars and helped families get off the streets and back on their feet. 
  • Support our Non-Profit Community. The Interfaith Coalition is doing an excellent job building transitional housing throughout our community to help families in distress. The county could easily support them with grant funding and increase their impact.  Although I love these programs, we must not be satisfied until people have permanent homes.