Schools and Planning for Growth

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Every child should succeed in school and in life, and it all starts with a safe, stable place to call home.

What that home looks like, where it’s located and how much it costs can help define what success is for our community’s kids.

When we consider generational impacts while planning for Bellingham’s residential growth, nowhere are they felt more than in our public schools and with growing families. If we start to look at what success means for kids that enter kindergarten this fall, in 2017, the decisions we make will begin to bear fruit for them—or not—in 2030. When they graduate, will they even be able to afford to live here?

Along the way, our decisions to create fair, equitable, accessible and safe housing choices for families will affect who lives in our community and what it looks like. Do we value having people who work here also live here? Is it better for families and kids to grow up in local neighborhoods and feel connected to their community? Is it better for the environment and people’s health? From what we’ve gathered over the last 25-plus years of living here, we think the answers are yes.

Two of the tenants of the School District’s Bellingham Promise are that diversity enhances a strong and healthy community, and that together we achieve more than alone.

To us, housing is an equity and fairness issue. By not allowing people access to different housing types like townhouses, duplexes, backyard cottages and mother-in-law units over garages, we are effectively denying housing to people mostly with lower incomes. That includes young families with children in our school district. In many cases, equitable housing choices could allow for kids to walk to their schools.

The Bellingham School District believes in the One Schoolhouse approach—that all of our schools must be equitable—from high-quality buildings, to opportunities for enrichment, high-quality teaching and learning, and above all, that all children should be loved.

What if these kinds of priorities and values were reflected in how we as a community fill in, build out and grow over the next 20y years? Part of how we develop our housing must be considered through the lens of positive youth development.

Today, 52 percent of Bellingham rents—in single-family homes, duplexes, multiplexes, or accessory dwelling units. About half of those households are cost-burdened with high rents relative to income, all with no end in sight.

There are silver linings in our community.

In 2012, voters passed the Bellingham Home Fund—a critical funding source for building and preserving affordable housing for working families and others with low incomes. The Villa at Sante Fe on Bakerview is just one example of this program. Kulshan Community Land Trust is developing more than 50 new affordable homes on Telegraph Road after finishing several homes with accessory dwelling units in the Birchwood neighborhood.

But we need to do more: Families with housing vouchers shouldn’t be discriminated against based on their source of income. The City should also explore ways of expanding housing choice in all neighborhoods and voters should renew the Bellingham Home Fund so that we can continue to provide safe, stable housing so that every kid has the opportunity for success in school and in life.

Kelly Bashaw was elected to Bellingham School Board in 2007. She is the senior director of the board. Dan Hammill was appointed to Bellingham City Council in 2014 and elected in 2015. He represents the Third Ward. They married in 2012.

Past Columns
Invest in the Future

September 26, 2018

A Desperate Call

August 29, 2018

Criminalizing Protest

July 18, 2018

Threshold Fund

June 13, 2018

Imprisoned Splendour

May 9, 2018

Pathways to Homeownership

April 25, 2018

Yes on I-1631

April 11, 2018


October 11, 2017

Electronic Home Monitoring

September 13, 2017

Home for the Holidays

5:00pm|Ferndale Events Center

You Can't Take It With You

7:00pm|BHS Performing Arts Center

9 to 5, the Musical

7:30pm|Squalicum High School

Seven Supermans

7:30pm|Heiner Theatre

Waiting for Godot

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|Bellingham Public Market

Romeo and Juliet

7:00pm|Sehome High School Little Theatre

A Chorus Line

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Secret Agents, LOL-apalooza

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

A Chorus Line

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

Gardenview Montessori Holiday Bazaar

9:00am|Gardenview Montessori

Turkey Trot with GBRC

9:00am|Squalicum Creek Park

NSEA Work Party

9:00am|Willow Creek

Christmas in the Woods Open House

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

South Fork Winterfest

10:00am|Van Zandt Community Hall

Holiday at the Port Farmers Market

10:00am|Port Transit Shed

Stuff the Trunk

10:00am|Haggen stores

Rexville Grange Holiday Art Show

10:00am|Rexville Grange

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am| Depot Market Square

Poetry Workshops

10:00am|Mindport Exhibits

Anything Goes Arts and Crafts

10:30am|Sumas Library

Wine and Shop Weekend

11:00am|Eagle Haven Winery

Gnocchi Class

11:00am|Christianson's Nursery

Needle Felting Workshop

1:00pm|Skagit City School

Coffee and Conversation with Surge Artists

1:30pm|Museum of Northwest Art

Fishboy Holiday Show

2:00pm|FishBoy Gallery

A Local Treasure

2:00pm|Ferndale Library

Beatles Sing-Along and Jam

2:00pm|Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship

Welcome to the 20th century


Pacific NW Insects

4:00pm|Village Books

Skagit Wine & Beer Festival

4:00pm|Eaglemont Golf Club

Last Call Group Reading

7:00pm|Village Books

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Sacred Heart Social Hall

A Light in the Darkness

7:00pm|Church of the Assumption

Seattle International Comedy Competition



8:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Seattle Comedy
9 to 5, the Musical

7:30pm|Squalicum High School

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|Bellingham Public Market

A Chorus Line

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

A Chorus Line

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Rexville Grange Holiday Art Show

10:00am|Rexville Grange

Holiday at the Port Farmers Market

10:00am|Port Transit Shed

Wine and Shop Weekend

11:00am|Eagle Haven Winery

Sedro-Woolley Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #43

Langar in Lynden

11:00am|Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Norah Rendell and the Lost Forty

2:00pm|Bellingham YWCA

Hope-Filled Dreams

2:30pm|Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship

Whatcom Symphony Orchestra

3:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Sing-Along Sound of Music

3:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Poetry Duo

4:00pm|Village Books

Four Pair, An Evening of Duets

7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Traveling with the Thurbers

7:30pm|Lummi Island Library


8:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Seattle Comedy Trove Web
Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|Bellingham Public Market

Wheelchair Gangball

3:30pm|Bloedel Donovan


7:00pm|Alternative Library


9:00pm|Firefly Lounge

see our complete calendar »

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