Bellingham Growth Management, Washington, USA
This study was an extended and focused public participation effort, educating communities on the principles and intention behind Bellingham Growth Management planning, the trade-offs present when the ramifications of an urban growth boundary are taken seriously, the possibilities occurring in the face of rapid growth and the methods available to manage that growth in a manner that achieves the community’s objectives.
This process relied on community involvement. It relied on effective communication of the forum’s materials, and on our accurate interpretation of the community’s message. The study was led by our colleagues at Spokane based planning firm Studio Cascade.
When growth projections topped 40% in advance of their comp plan updates, the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County faced a major crisis: how to handle the influx within the current UGA? The two agencies, joined by the Whatcom Transportation Authority, asked Studio Cascade to deliver viable, communitytested strategies that dealt with growth, and could easily be incorporated into both City and County comprehensive plans. Conditions recommended an “all-out” approach to public involvement, and SCI responded, leading a wide range of innovative approaches involving more than 1,000 participants. All helped craft the report, which called for the creation of 23 “urban villages” within City limits including recommendations on how such infill should occur, with specific policy recommendations and action items. The plan proved so well-grounded that the plan was accepted unanimously by all three agencies. In addition, the plan received a 2005 APA/PAW Award for outstanding public process and planning.