A League position is a defined statement of support derived after thorough research and study of a topic. The position is used for advocating either for or against issues in government and in our community. League positions are taken at the local, state, and national levels; local leagues may use positions from all levels to advocate.
LWVBWC has positions on the following topics:
1. The Environment
Position: Land Use – Environmental Quality
Support the updating, revising and amplifying of the Comprehensive Plans of the incorporated and unincorporated areas of Whatcom County and further support the adoption of land ordinances as a means of implementing the plans. Work to ensure that the ordinances provide for public participation in planning, for cooperation of all government agencies concerned with the development of the entire County, for efficient administration and enforcement procedures and for periodic review and updating.
The League sees two major requirements for land use ordinances for the incorporated and unincorporated areas of Whatcom County:
Preserving and protecting the unique land and other natural resources of the area, as well as, its scenic, historic, aesthetic and ecological quality.
Providing for human needs, allowing all suitable and necessary activities while maintaining desirable physical and social environment with reasonable economic activity. (1975-1980)
A land use comprehensive plan which provides for: preservation of the agricultural area as an economic base for present and future production of food; protection of the agricultural area from intrusion of incompatible uses; reimbursement of farmers for retaining their land for agriculture rather than selling it for development; preservation of “open space” land for aesthetic quality; control of “urban sprawl” by requiring proper utilities (sewer, septic tanks on large lots); procedures for making wise and just changes in the plan when such changes are necessary.
Implementation of the plan by stringent subdivision regulations to prevent scatteration; such regulations to contain provisions for utilities, open space and aesthetics. (1969)
Regulation of land in the rural classification to hold that land in reserve for development after infilling on the suburban area; development (homes, business, industry, agriculture) permitted only on the basis of best use of the land, compatibility with surrounding land use, preservation of agricultural land, availability of water, adequate sewers, location of power lines, buffer zones where needed, and accessibility of roads. Encouragement of orderly and desirable development through financial incentives to the subdivider for building in suburban areas in order to prevent premature development in the rural classification. Long range plans to provide for sewering (both ground and surface), to provide for sewering (including installing connector pipes to future planned sewers), acquisition of land for open space and public use. (1971)
Outlook for Work:
Observe and evaluate land use planning in incorporated and unincorporated areas of Whatcom County. Encourage intergovernmental cooperation in planning, through planning commissions, council committees and departments. Support and encourage updating of comprehensive plans and adoptions of land use ordinances to implement those plans.
Position: Environmental Protection - Solid Waste Disposal in Whatcom County
Support of solid waste management in Whatcom County to control it by positive means, such as economic incentives, recycling education, and encouraging positive attitudes toward solid waste.
Outlook for Work:
Continued support of recycling proposals in Bellingham and Whatcom County. Actively promote separation of recyclables for recycling when solid waste pickup occurs. Do update on recycling program in Bellingham.
Position: Citizen Participation
The LWVBWC believes that citizen advisory committees (CACs) perform a valuable service in representing citizens’ views to governmental bodies and communicating information to the general public. We believe that the following characteristics lead to successful citizen advisory committees:
- Clear definition of purpose/mission statement
- Set terms of office
- Term limits
- Regularly scheduled meetings
- Fair selection process
- Diversity with balanced representation of the community
- Two-way communication between the committee and the parent organization
- Agendas and minutes accessible to the general public
- Where appropriate, appoint committees for specific projects with limited duration
To increase the effectiveness of CACs it is very important for agencies to provide new member orientation so that members have a clear understanding of their duties and responsibilities. Suggestions to agencies to encourage more citizens to serve on boards and committees and increase the effectiveness of their involvement include: maintaining a website, publicizing vacancies, encouraging people to apply, having open houses and traveling displays, and getting media to give more public recognition of advisory boards’ actions.
Position: Local Representative Government
We support local governments in Whatcom County which incorporate the following standards:
- Procedures which would ensure increased accountability
- Effective utilization of time, services and facilities
- Identification by elected officials with and for their constituents
- Reliable and broad based information should be available and assimilated
Accountable: accurate recording of all meetings and that these records are readily available to the public and press
Effective: Avoid duplication of services where possible through inter-departmental and inter-governmental cooperation, improved facilities services, better public telephone communication to county government, install a central data bank.
Representative: Districting and the size of the constituency must allow adequate representation by elected officials; appointed citizen boards should be broadly based and terms should be limited; criteria should be established in advance for appointing boards in order to ensure a wide representation.
Informed: Government officials should have adequate sources of information pertaining to inter and intra county affairs; a county wide information center; training and information on the responsibilities of the job, especially for elected positions.
History: A “Know Your County” study was required in 1970. A survey of county departments and services was conducted and used as a basis of the first year’s study. In 1974 a study was adopted to develop criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of and for county government, and the above consensus was reached in April 1974. In the spring of 1981 an updated “Know Your County” brochure was published.
Outlook for Work:
Observe local governmental bodies in action and report to League Board.
Monitor review of Whatcom County Charter. Study and Publish “Know Your City” for the City of Bellingham.
Position: Deep Water Ports
When the need is proven for another deep water port on the West Coast, and Cherry Point is determined to be the best location, then we support development of no more than one additional pier at Cherry Point. The pier should be multi-purpose and multi-user; first consideration should be given to the expansion and/or revitalization of existing structures to achieve minimal impact on the ecosystem. Cherry Point’s availability is not a reason to destroy or alter the ecosystem. The potential for saving the wild salmon through protection of eel grass and migration routes highlights the importance of protecting the marine food chain system: the herring spawning area, crab nursery, and other larval forms. To this end we support protection of the ecosystem and the overall communal stewardship of these vital community resources through:
- Minimizing damage to and interference with feeder bluffs and littoral drift
- Enacting and enforcing the most stringent pollution controls with regard to development and activities
- Limitation on types of cargo; commodities with high risk to harm the environment or health should not be allowed
- Limitation on the types and number of vessels
- Controlled vessel movement to avoid groundings and collision incidents by the best available means, including the use of radar and other electronic position tracking technology
- The protection and improvement of public access for study, enjoyment and appreciation of the natural beauty and features of the shoreline
Support efforts to retain Puget Sound and Georgia Strait as a multi-use natural resource and continue to monitor proposed development at Cherry Point.
Position: Public Port Districts
Environmental protection and cleanup, recreation, public access, and citizen involvement should be the highest priority for Port Districts; these factors are compatible with, and enhance, economic development and activities.
- Coordination, not competition, among ports and/or regional port authorities
- Coordination with other governmental bodies, private development, and other constituencies, such as environmental and labor groups
- Active pursuit of expertise and input from a wide variety of local and regional organizations
- The use of citizen advisory committees
- Emphasis on public use of and access to waterfront Emphasis on preservation of existing scenic views
- Adherence to performance standards of permits
Position: We recognize Puget Sound and Georgia Strait as an important resource with multiple uses.
It is a unique resource and probably the least spoiled estuary in the United States. With its excellent water quality, Puget Sound and Georgia Strait are capable of providing food and recreation important to the economy of Whatcom County and the nation. These uses should not be supplanted or eroded by shoreline development of a single purpose nature. The surface of the water belongs to the people of the State. Piers as well as vessel traffic lanes take up space, reducing its use by boaters and fishers (both commercial and pleasure) and degrade important habitat for species such as herring. We recognize that fossil fuel quantities are finite and reliance on these should not be increased, but preferably reduced. Transport of fossil fuel should not be accepted as a reason to expand use of Puget Sound.
Policies and standards should be enacted emphasizing the wise management of natural resources in the public interest and which promote an environment beneficial to life. These policies and standards should recognize the interrelationships of air quality, energy land use, waste management and water resources.
4. Resource Management
Adopted – date unknown
Conservation measures must be continued and expanded upon. Alternative forms of energy must be explored, such as solar, wind power, geothermal, synthetic fuel, etc. A moratorium on new nuclear plants until a study and a solution for the problems of nuclear waste and disposal are resolved.
Outlook for Work:
Because of the gravity of the energy situation and the continuing changes in the energy field, members of the League should be made aware of these changes.
Position: Meeting Basic Human Needs
LWVBWC supports the right to basic human needs and development, i.e. a decent life. We advocate access to adequate food, housing and health care. Opportunity should be provided for education and/or training for those jobs that are available in the community which pay a wage that provides the basics. Primary responsibility for meeting basic human needs should be from the public funding sector with a preference for administration at the local level.
We believe that the acknowledgement of basic human need requires re-education of our whole society; systematic steps should be taken to achieve these goals. We realize this will be a prolonged process but believe that beginnings are long overdue.
Outlook for Work:
- Encourage commercial and private donations to food banks and/or support measures that make food available to people in need
- Promote and lobby for a wide spectrum of housing, i.e. low cost, transitional and emergency
- Advocate basic health care
- Support establishment of a wage that provides basic needs
- Support job-specific/training education for jobs available in the community
- Support prioritization of tax uses to encourage funding of adequate assistance at all levels.
- Promote general public awareness of assistance needs through education.
- Promote legislation for mandatory cross-education programs for professionals, i.e. judges, legislators, attorneys, prosecutors, teachers, police, counselors, doctors, social workers, etc., especially in children’s services area.
Position: Women’s Economic Security in Whatcom County
LWVBWC agrees that when women achieve economic security, the communities in which they live rise to new heights of prosperity and health. We support the right of every woman to have access to a path that permits her to attain economic security for herself and her children who may depend on her.
LWVBWC further agrees that government bears the primary responsibility for addressing issues which inhibit women's ability to attain economic security. LWVBWC acknowledges that in order to implement these goals, government will need additional revenues. Specifically LWVBWC supports increased progressive taxes in order to avoid cutting essential services.
LWVBWC acknowledges that this requires the engagement of all of Whatcom County. Community education and discussion are essential to addressing the challenges that face women of all ages in Whatcom County as they strive to improve their lives and the future lives of the children who depend on them. When women are empowered, communities are improved. This is not just a woman’s issue; it is ‘everybody’s business.’
LWVBWC supports policies that provide:
- Living wage jobs, equal pay for equal work, benefits that include, but are not limited to, paid sick leave.
- Quality affordable child care.
- Affordable, safe and healthy housing.
- Increased, enhanced, affordable access to the legal system.
- Expanded daily public transportation services throughout the county, particularly to outer county locations.
- Access to affordable college education.
- Expansion of educational opportunities for life skills.
- Impetus to young girls and women to stay in school and complete their education prior to starting a family.
- Quality early learning opportunities that are available/accessible for all young children in order to provide a foundation for future economic security.
- Schools with the capability to serve as a social safety net to support children.