Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Quo Vadis, Western? Doug Karlberg Inquires.

Here are the latest emails I have received from Doug Karlberg on this issue.


Good luck on the radio. One of the issues that is important to folks in Bellingham is the issue of affordable housing. As I was driving through Western the other day, I was thinking that if Western simply provided enough housing for those [who] attend college, then housing would be more affordable in Bellingham [than] it is today. I was surprised that the latest affordable housing project in Bellingham may go down in flames for lack of parking, but what about Western's parking issues? Wouldn't Western be a good neighbor and take care of the parking and housing that it needs. Seems like Western is going to need something from the City and negotiating more on campus housing would address both your issue, and affordable housing.

Good luck,

Doug Karlberg



Please feel free to use my comments on your blog. By the way, I can still be written in for Mayor. Only the vote in November, elects a Mayor. I am going to launch a write in campaign the first week of October. 80 % of the votes did not go for either Pike, nor McShane and neither of these guys really wants to address seriously the affordable housing issue.

It is clear from internal Western memos that the University wants to continue to expand on the waterfront, without building a single place for their students to live. If you think you have problems now with people thumbing their nose at the authorities now, the best is yet to come. WWU is thumbing their nose at the community by not building enough parking and housing for their customers (students). This would not be allowed, if this were a private developer. Guess who gets the bill?

I like the college, but I think that they need to be responsible for all their impacts, it is as simple as that. It is just about being a good neighbour.





It is interesting that growth, sprawl, private houses turning into dorms, and traffic problems all revolve around the issue of affordable housing, but none of the candidates have plans with any level of detail. I guess I am beginning to understand the problem that at least some of the neighbourhoods are facing.


Thanks for taking a moment to write.

I have stated previously in my blog that Western needs to step up to the bar in a more substantial manner. I don’t think the university can provide housing for all 13,000 students but I think they can do much better than the 3,500 or so dorm slots they now have. I have suggested a public-private partnership whereby WWU can join with the private sector in building high density, off-campus housing which is also affordable. If over the next few years hundreds (or thousands) of single family homes formerly rented by students come on the market for families moving to Bellingham , that will go a long way toward easing the housing crunch.

I find it hard to believe that the city has never considered the housing of WWU students as part of the infill/sprawl problem. Every year 13,000 people just kind of show up and the university expects the city to absorb over 2/3 of them – which is, of course, impossible, unless the city ignores its own ordinances on illegal rooming houses.

Discerning interconnectedness here seems to be a glaring lacuna to which Bellingham’s polity ironically remains blind.

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