Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Coyote Ugly

The County’s proposed Rural Element is one unsightly critter. Don’t know about you, but I pretty much would gnaw my arm off in order to avoid having to see its homely face tomorrow morning.

But no. We’ll be chained together for another few weeks. The County scheduled a public hearing for tonight. It’s also going to introduce a new ordinance. So the public hearing won’t be on the new ordinance, and there will be another public hearing.

The Planning Commission, during its in-depth several-hour-long review that preceded its public hearing, proposed a few minor changes in the text. The Council is proposing to add those changes – the tiniest dab of lipstick on the coyote.

But it’s still coyote ugly.


  1. To whom do you speak, Sailor? Is there a fleet under your command?

  2. Jean,
    As someone who lived in the Southwest for 30 years and came to know and admire coyotes, I resent the phrase "coyote ugly". It does a disservice to a noble animal, a family-oriented canid like the wolf. No coyote should be painted with the same brush as this creation of Council.

    Best wishes,
    Abe Jacobson
    Bellingham, Whatcom County

  3. Hi Abe,

    I figured that I'd hear from friends of the coyote.

    So I have to confess that I took poetic license with the phrase "coyote ugly." It refers to situations akin to the plight of a coyote caught in a leghold trap, when it is so desperate that it will gnaw off its own limb to get away.

    Strictly speaking, then, the Rural Element is the leghold trap. not the coyote. We're all the coyote. Hope that makes you feel better.

    But I still defend the use of the coyote cartoon as a fair and accurate representation of the Rural Element.

  4. Oh! I thought that was Weimer's expression after the meeting last night.

  5. The process has left me a bit cornfused.

    That said, the majority agreed to remove the statement that residential development "may" caused oxygen problems in Lake Whatcom and replaced it with "has caused".

    They also got rid of the ill advised reduced buffers from Ag land. This was the product of lousy public process and would never have gotten as far as it did if the Council majority was following any sort of reasonable public process. That said I am glad they had some common sense to listen to people in Ag business.

    What are the offensive issues still in the Council majority scheme? Here are three, and I suggest listing in clear language other problems. I'll add some more if and when I dig a bit deeper.

    1) The commercial zone northeast of I-5 at the Lynden Birch Bay Road in an area that is clearly rural.

    2) Increasing the size of buildings allowed in the commercial developed zones within the rural by 3X the current limit.

    3) No assurance that commercial or industrial development in the rural areas has anything to do with supporting natural resource uses. Do we really need to allow bowling alleys in the rural areas? when Ag supply yards might be a better use related to the needs of rural areas.

  6. "Coyote ugly" is taken from a very old joke. For those few people who haven't heard it, the definition of coyote ugly is when you wake up in the morning after drinking far too much the night before, and find a person of the opposite sex lying next to you, with your arm underneath. The preferred method of escape is gnawing your arm off.

  7. Dan,

    I have a much larger list than yours, but for some reason, people are missing the fact that the areas within Lake Whatcom outside of LAMIRDs will be able to still have lots less than 5 acres in size using the residential density overlay process.

    My understanding is that the county planning staff has said that there will be JUST 17 more lots created as a result of this change. That is 17 too many in our watershed.

    But, what they aren't telling you is that the ordinance provisions would allow variance applications and interpretations with minimal public notice -- if any.

    Lake Whatcom isn't protected under this ordinance. The minimal change in language of a comprehensive plan that no one ever reads is inconsequential.

  8. And, from Ken Mann's post, it sounds like that minimal change in language was actually voted down. Wow.

  9. There were a couple of other more substantive Lake Whatcom issues voted down by the council majority last night.

    1. There was a motion to exclude the density overlay from the Lake Whatcom watershed so lots smaller than 5 acres could not be created. That went down 4-3, then

    2. I tried to give them an even easier way out by offering a clause to the ordinance that would have delayed the effective date of any subdivision less than 5 acres from vesting in the watershed until June 2012 or until the Council considers the development standards that Executive Kremen has promised to the Department of Ecology. They wouldn't go for that either, even after Kremen pleaded for it.

    The question now is why does Ecology still cling to the belief that this council will ever do anything to change the trajectory of the lake? This Council is hopeless, and Ecology is either spineless or they have been completely hoodwinked.

  10. Maybe this Lake Whatcom stupidity will get the Governor to participate in an appeal and start imposing sanctions. Priceless.

  11. It's unlikely Ecology will take any action to address enforcement of the closure of the watershed to water withdrawals, Carl, when Bellingham won't even appeal DOE's rejection of the city's earlier petition.

    If you expect Ecology to enforce the law, the mayor, or the city council, has to screw up the courage to make them.

  12. Good that you got a 4-3 out of some of it, Carl, as that may encourage Pete to veto the most egregious parts of it.

    Pete told me he would not issue a veto on a 5-2 vote, which I think is a political error. Even that action might get someone on the fence to reconsider and decline to override. Principles are at stake. And Pete knows a plan that's invalid right out of the gate is big a waste of staff time and resources.

    I think this council needs to understand that it's more than just 'Futurewise machinations' driving opposition.

  13. You cannot reason a person out of something they were not reasoned into.

    --Jonathan Swift

    As Carl and Ken pointed out, there's no reasoning behind these votes, so I'm not hoping for understanding. I'm hoping that we'll elect some reasonable people.

  14. It perhaps goes without saying that the more isolated any person is from oppositional views, the more extremist they become in their opinions—having nothing to intellectually defend against and only applause to find one's way forward.

    Now that the Planning Commission is only an echo chamber of council's values, we can expect more and more extremist decisions. Perhaps violent madness should be encouraged, as a means of bringing the state in soonest.

  15. Why DO others (not us, of course) in politics, business, the justice system etc so often dodge responsibility, refuse to admit they've screwed up and indulge in endless quarrels over who is right? Land use planning, megajail, Lummi Island ferry negotiations --

    I highly recommend reading "Mistakes were made (but not by me: Why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions, and hurtful acts." (Tavis & Aronson). Lively writing, critical insights into how we all get into political and personal messes, and how -- if we want -- can start getting out of them.

  16. Anyone know what the buffers here are?