A Few Missing Pieces

The April All Point Bulletin published another article by Meg Olson about a meeting she didn't attend, this time covering the PRCAC meeting on March 9 to gather community input on local zoning changes. Actually, no one from the All Point Bulletin attended it, but it was recorded and live-streamed, so one could say that they phoned this one in, as they often did with the Fire District meetings....

After writing incessantly about us through 2018, the All Point Bulletin has apparently decided to pretend we don't exist. Meg managed to name-drop all her friends and ignore everyone else, despite the fact that the entire premise of the article is based on a suggestion I (Vic) made. This is in keeping with their usual practice of pretending things don't exist when they haven't gone their way or don't agree with their agenda, and of minimizing people they don't like and promoting people they do.

Since there were a few errors and omissions, we take the opportunity to publish a corrected version of her story, just to show once again how misleading the All Point Bulletin can be. Here's the legend:

Speak your piece or forever hold your peace

By Meg Olson

The Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee (PRCAC) is asking community members to come up with a list of what is wrong, and what is right, about local zoning.

“We will have a series of these meetings so this is certainly not your last opportunity to share your thoughts,” PRCAC chair Linda Hughes told a sparsely attended meeting on March 9 intended to gather community input as the committee moves into a five-month review of Title 20.72 of Whatcom County zoning code: the Point Roberts Special District.

...

Wright said the subarea plan already had the broad community vision they needed, but that the accompanying zoning was for a vision of Gulf Road that wasn’t realistic. “Ninety-five percent of this is spot-on,” he said. “We really don’t have to do very much.”

Ken Calder said most of the changes needed to address land use in the STC zone, but that the Point did not have a mix of permitted land uses to accommodate the services the community needed, such as storing heavy equipment needed for construction and septic services. Calder said he felt the zoning overlay was unfairly restrictive. “They bought the property and if it’s allowed under county code it should be allowed.”

Heidi Baxter and Steve Wolff said they felt it was appropriate to limit some uses. “I don’t want to see more storage units. We have enough,” Baxter said. Wolff added he didn’t think the community wanted to see a proliferation of RV storage businesses and industrial uses along Gulf Road. “We want it to look nice,” he said, “but we know we need more room for industrial uses.”

“The zoning overlay doesn’t support the vision in the subarea plan,” said Allison Szabo. She added the Point Roberts Registered Voters Association would be holding educational sessions in the coming months to educate the public about the planning documents relative to Point Roberts. “What does 20.72 actually say, and if it doesn’t address something specifically what does the county code say?”

PRCAC member Stephen Falk said that, while he acknowledged the need for periodic code revisions, he did not like to see the process rushed to save one property owner from enforcement action. “I think it’s an odd thing to be driving systemic change to an entire zoning system,” he said. “We should be trying to do what’s best for the entire community.”

Hughes said the code violations might have triggered the push to revise 20.72, but the revision was long overdue and the code violations seemed to have galvanized community interest. “Before it was just an idea and maybe it takes more than just an idea to bring people to the table.” Changes they recommend to the county by the August 31 deadline to work through county approval this year may not be all that’s needed, but it would be a start that can be regularly revisited, she said.

Vic Riley pointed out that the committee would be unable to assess the value of proposed changes unless they first understood what the problems are. "In order to do this systematically and comprehensively, it would be good to do it in phases. So first, what are the problems? Define what the problems are first. Don't worry about the solutions until you understand what the problems are. When you have agreement on what the problems are, then start talking about what the solutions are."

Judson Meraw added that the committee should have a clear vision of what the desired end state is, so it would be able to determine if any particular proposed change was moving it the right direction. He alluded to human centered design principles, in which the focus is on the end user's experience rather than on the product solution itself. "Zoning is basically a tool for outcomes. It is not, in and of itself, a goal."

Hughes said they had received two comments to date at comments@pointrobertscac.org and hoped to receive more. “Let’s make a list of all the shortcomings people might see and start from that,” she said. “We need to ask the public to find these documents, find what’s important to them.”

Introducing: the Meg-O-Meter

Meg left the Point some time ago (she joined the Blaine city council in September of 2017 and moved to Whidbey Island last year). For some reason, though, she still has her finger on the Point Roberts pulse. Here are the number of articles appearing in the All Point Bulletin with her byline since January of last year:

Number of recent articles by Meg in which Steve Wolff's last name has been spelled "Wolf": 5.

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