Bellingham Parks & Recreation is updating the PRO Plan (Parks, Recreation & Open Space). Now is the time to add your input as to whether priorities should allow for more dog parks, small boat access, bike trails/parking, etc.
Romo for President 2020 - Keep the dream alive!
I forwarded the link to my paddlers Romo. Thanks.
My current question for the parks department and the City of Bellingham in general, is how they plan to address the ever-increasing amount of transient/drug users that choose to camp and continually inhabit these areas? My paddlers are exposed to continual garbage and degradation of Cornwall (Glass) Beach. This area is only a microcosm of what the greater areas of Bellingham are experiencing in this regard, and the problems seem to be getting worse every year.
It seems like we are fighting a losing battle with these people, their associated garbage and drug use. Unfortunately, enforcement from our boys in blue is non-existent as well.
Having a shop down there is a scary situation always wondering if it got broken into over the night… Watch Seattle is Dying, police officers need their authority back.
Please take survey guys. Thx tiger-man.
Regards 'homeless' - I'm hearing that homelessness is largely drugs: (root cause of). Now OK … For the occasional person who gets jammed into homelessness and is not a substance abuser it is very damaging to get classified as abuser. (For example: injury/illness loss of job, mental struggles, etc.) … There's harm in generalizing. So law enforcement, media, etc should not be blasting drug abuse out there. But to address the problem at least on a 'first effort', drugs should have a bulls-eye.
Jeeze. did this turn into like a facebook session? I need to be paddling. whuddya doin here RD? I'm out.
Reivers, I challenge you take a walk down by Glass Beach sometime and then tell me that the people yelling at the beach logs and sitting blazed out of their minds on the dredge pile access roads aren't “abusing drugs.” Yeah, the topic isn't pretty and socially acceptable to discuss, but it is a real problem that the City of Bellingham is letting get out of hand and it needs to be addressed.
We might be getting a little off subject here….The PRO plan is addressing our input about the development of future public lands, parks etc.
It is obvious that we do have a homeless issue. I am confident there are sincere and effective organizations who are dealing with it as they can.
-One can only expect so much from the authorities with limited budgets etc. Incarceration doesn't seem to help that much anyway.
My own personal experience is that for the few decades I have been visiting Cornwall (glass) beach- It has always been viewed as a “party” beach..thus all the glass.
Its a lot cleaner that it used to be. Occasionally I see folks trying to camp there but that doesn't last long.
I supposed if one feels threatened by these lost souls, then thats different. But perhaps being next to the healing powers of the Salish Sea could have some benefits.
I'm a parks guy, specifically a recreation guy and not at all representative of the Cities response to an international homeless crisis. As for what Bellingham Parks & Recreation is doing I can highlight a few items that have been already well publicized. We try to approach this issue acknowledging a combination of empathy and the need to protect public spaces.
In cooperation with BPD we're tagging and cleaning up encampments on Park property.
We institute engineering solutions including lighting, music, trimming foliage and creating spaces for people without the advantage of a home to use restroom facilities.
We've created an ambassador program with staff in facilities more heavily impacted by homelessness. These staff build a rapport with park users sharing their knowledge of local resources and providing activities for park users.
We're partnering with outside agencies and offer incentives to increase programming in lower use facilities.
We have waste stations that allow people without waste removal services to dispose of their garbage.
I wouldn't speak for our men and women in blue, however, the statement “enforcement…is non-existent” is untrue and unfair to them. I recommend contacting both police and fire to learn just exactly how much they, and other agencies, are doing to reduce homelessness.
I would further suggest talking to some of what you describe as, “these people”. Many of them have substance abuse issues, others mental health and surely others are just plain criminals. Looking deeper one also finds children, mothers and those rejected by circumstances beyond their control. Making gross generalizations about all people of a certain demographic is part of an even larger problem.
100% of us sharing this forum are privileged by circumstance. I view every second I get to spend on the water in my carbon fiber boat, of which there is now more than one, a blessing. If the worst thing that happens on my journey to this blessing is walking past a person suffering from mental illness or drug addiction it's still a banner fucking day for me.
It's also worth mentioning that many of the sites we use to launch are former dumps, riddled with toxins, placed there by people with homes.
See you on the water,
ROMO For President 2019!!!
I appreciate the response. It seems that the City is making attempts to rectify the situation, but the problem is continuing to grow.
Kai Pana has been in the South Cornwall area for 6 years now and the problems with the street camping and associated garbage and drug use has only gotten worse in that short time. Don't get me wrong with my original email; I completely appreciate everything that the BPD and the Fire Departments do. In fact, their efforts are completely under-appreciated. We've had members who worked for the Fire Department specifically, so we are aware of their continual efforts to help contain this growing problem. We have had to call the BPD 3 times over the past two years to handle this transient population because of their aggressive actions towards our paddlers, and their illegal camping on City and private property. The problem is, their hands are tied.
The City needs to crack down and stop tolerating this type of behavior to happen. Why are tents allowed to remain along Roeder Ave for MONTHS on end? Why are motor homes and RV trailers that have their jack stands in place (signifying semi-permanent residence) allowed to be parked on City streets? Why is illicit drug use allowed to happen on public property? All of this stuff happens in this little corner of Bellingham, and I can't even imagine how bad it is in other places around the City!
At the end of the day, we try to be stewards of the water we paddle on and the areas of access that we use to get to the water. However, when we are overrun with a population of people who don't give a SHIT about Bellingham, about littering, about defecating on the sidewalks, its time to make a stand and end the problem. I'm tired of staying quiet it and hoping that it'll go away, because, that clearly is not happening. (BTW trying to talk to these people does not work, we've tried. They don't give a crap about what you have to say.)
This is not about privilege, this is about protecting what we value and fighting for improving our City.
While I agree with several of Lance's comments I also recognize it is easy for me to sit back and do or say nothing in particular because I do not have my business (like Dan) or my club property (like Tyler) more directly at risk. The one time this Spring I launched from Glass Beach I did not want to leave my car out of sight.
I suspect that we are not going to solve the issues of homelessness on this forum. But this is a very important problem for us to be involved with. If there is something we can directly organize and support as stewards of our waterways and water access I would back that 100%.
My take is that law enforcement alone will never provide an adequate solution by itself. Homelessness has to be addressed by communities on many different levels both locally and beyond. Consider whatever aspect that you might be able to contribute to. We haven't found all of the keys to prevention but important local efforts already have some effect in keeping it from being worse than it would otherwise be. What the Opportunity Council and Bellingham Food Bank are doing is extremely important and I know there are other local community efforts worth our awareness and support.
Very well said Lance…Thanks.
Well said Romo
lori & beau whitehead
The police (my friends) & fire (me) can only enforce the rules laid out by our mayor and city council. The mayoral position & several city council positions will be open this coming November. If you live in the city limits, you better vote.
Super important issues that affect us all and deserve to be discussed. I'm just not sure that this Whatcom Paddlers site is the appropriate forum (other than Lance's original post about the survey).
OK, now it's time to go to Bloedel and paddle in the rain!
Quote of the day:
“…it's still a banner fucking day for me.”
Worth reading through the whole post. Kudos!
Good thread. No easy answers but an issue that affects us all. Timely read on the political aspects of this, and how they factor at the neighborhood level:
Side note to get us on the water: is there an ordinance or law that would prevent someone from going motor-homeless on the water? Say I bought a barge, and just parked an RV on top… What next?
Interesting idea with the barge and RV I suspect we will see more of that sort of thing in the future…..or for that matter surplus aircraft carriers.
Not sure how the Port would feel about RV barges anchored in the Bay. They have been coming down on liveaboards recently.
On a another historical note…over 40 years ago I remember that the Cornwall beach area was a common meeting place for wanderers/hobos etc.
Something about the closeness to the RR, and just the general remote location, yet in the city. Nobody really seemed to bother each other, neutral territory.
It was also the site of an active historical ferry dock. Up until the beginning of 21st century you could still paddle by the loading structure. The “Drydock” building that stands on the corner, was and may still be the location of AA. The old industrial (south) site past the building is the location of a major toxic leakage seep into the bay (wood preservative) Thus the metal barriers you see driven down along the shore. Money is still being sought after to excavate and replenish that site that was screwed up by the industrial age….One last note, the whole massive flat land areas around Cornwall over to GP, Boulveard park, Squalicum and beyond ending at LIttle Squalicum Creek, is fill.
Thanks for that article. I thought it did a good job of covering a number of important points:
The need for empathy for the wide diversity of people who find themselves homeless for a wide range of reasons;
The reality of problems that result from the minority that don't (or can't) control their behavior;
The difficulty and complexity of “solutions”. It's a two-sided problem - both for those who find themselves homeless and those whose lives are adversely affected by the side effects of “bad behavior”. Clearly, those who find themselves homeless have fallen out of the societal safety nets - some might just need help getting back on their feet, but others suffer from mental illness, drug addiction, etc. Simply incarcerating those people isn't going to “solve the problem”.
The strong emotions that arise in people affected by these issues. I think that's worth noting, because hopefully then folks can stay aware of their own reactions, keep the conversation civil, and listen more closely to others' perspectives. I see those emotions flare on our local “NextDoor” association list serve when this topic comes up (which it is even now).
While it's off the direct topic of paddling, I think it's worth discussing on this forum for a couple of reasons. First, it clearly affects some members of the community who are trying to go paddling. And second, a lot of folks have garnered the energy and good will of this paddling community for positive social actions: Paddle for Food Relay, BCKST youth program, adaptive paddling, to name just a few. We're certainly not going to solve the homeless crisis on our own, but perhaps one approach would be to look for collaborative ways to support or work with existing entities to take steps in the right direction, even if that's driven by a bit of enlightened self-interest. A few quick ideas:
a spring “paddle for shelter” relay to complement the fall food event?
club “ohana” days to work with local groups battling homelessness in spots affecting our paddling activities?
suggesting projects in our paddling access areas to the City, County, Parks, whomever, that might help with win-win solutions, and gathering a group of volunteers to help with the work.
personally donating to some of the local organizations working with homelessness. Here are a few, (noting that some people like some, but not others, and vice versa, for their own personal reasons. I'm not advocating one or the other, just putting them out there):
Lighthouse Mission and Agape House (https://www.thelighthousemission.org/)
City of Bellingham and Whatcom Homeless Service Center (https://www.cob.org/services/housing/homeless/Pages/be-part-of-the-solution.aspx) (good list of organizations dealing with the issue at this link).
I agree with others who have pointed out that just being in a life position to go play on the Bay in our sporty boats, we've all already won the global lottery. Now looking for some constructive steps to take to help move the conversation (and action) forward.
See you on the water!
Re: PRO Plan- Water Bound homeless….
On the water issue is the same but not so rampant here!
Take a look in Richardson Bay just around the corner from Fort Baker in San Fran Bay. We have a couple of yachts here in town that are right off the Taylor Street Dock. They are completely unmonitored. The USCG only responds to distress and reports of people in the water. The Port has jurisdiction only where they have mooring buoys and then it becomes a DNR issue if not, which has very little funds, hence the boats during the last big blow dragging across the bay and now permanently, a land sculpture. I have been in town since I was 5 and like Lance R have to pinch myself on days like this or even crappy days surfing with the relatively ease to the water and able to afford our toys and my next meal. But this still doesn't allow myself to feel that we are enabling a lot of which is going on downtown and surrounding areas. I see homeland sercurity fly all over the place in the air, on the water and parked in the Border Patrol Rigs. What if we took a lot of that alloted Tax Payer Money and provided more vehicles with counselors to assist, (like the opportunity council cars) or use to relocate the lighthouse mission and surrounding facilities to open Green Space where maybe a temp homeless camp could be set up while individuals are in a struggling situation and not so near so much easily aceessible public use land. Our community appears to welcome and hopefully help theses individuals but should this have that much of an impact on a much larger percent of the population that for the most part made the right decisions?? Seems callous but think about that……We have the latest and greatest technology in the USA, so you would think this would be powerful enough to stop the influx of drugs into town…We fight Cancers, HIV research, how come Addiction, Metal illness and making poor financial choices and abuse rank so low on most peoples radar..isnt this just as important? Take a look at all the large buildings near or in downtown that are built catered to Low Income (want to define this?) I am a little confused about this….
So….while your out paddling, study your Voters Pamphlet and make decsions that will improve and impact our community. Everyone always says “lots of issues to deal with” as an answer. We have great Policemen and Policewomen and great Firefighters and Paramedics who deal with this all the time, maybe we should all chip in to create a Homeless Force: (These counselors and medical staff respond just like our law enforecement and Firefighters to deal with theses issues?) Not just one car and one or two persons but a Force…….Far Fetched, I dont know? I fished for 28 years and when something broke you immediately got the right part and fixed it and moved on…Things are broke…..What parts do we need, lets fix this! I am in!!!!