Letters for the week of August 05, 2020

End discriminatory zoning

Recently, President Trump attacked Joe Biden, saying, “They’re going to bring people, eliminate single-family zoning, they want to eliminate single-family zoning, bringing who knows into your suburbs, so your communities will be unsafe and your housing values will go down.”
After cutting an Obama-era fair housing rule, Trump tweeted, “I am happy to inform all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood.”
While most of Trump’s rhetoric is anathema to Bellinghamsters, this cry might ring out for the NIMBY crowd.
Most defenders of the single-family zoning status quo will tell you they just want to preserve “character.” But intent doesn’t matter—impact does. If we want to be an anti-racist and economically just city, we have to look at the impact of our policies.
Does a policy uphold a racist system that locks people of color out of the best schools and neighborhoods, or does it result in greater equity across race and class? 
Trump understands the exclusionary impacts of single-family zoning: banning duplexes, rowhouses and apartments from neighborhoods creates invisible walls that price out poorer people, disproportionately minorities. The typical white family in America has a net worth of $171,000, nearly ten times more than that of a Black family, $17,500. If you allow multiple families to share the cost of the land and walls, it’s more affordable.
Those of us advocating for housing density have been doing so out of concern for the environment, enhanced livability with lower reliance on a car, and because it’s an anti-racist policy that expands access to the best Bellingham has to offer. 
Say no to Trump’s division.
It’s time to abolish single-family zoning and build affordable homes in every part of our city. The policy should be crafted thoughtfully to maximize permanent affordability.
Minneapolis and Oregon passed laws abolishing single-family zoning last year. Will we lead on this or will Bellingham be a laggard due to the influence of anti-housing activists?
Time will tell and history will judge.

—Galen Herz, Bellingham

Teach life’s lessons

I am voting to approve Referendum 90 on the November 2020 ballot. Approving this referendum will allow SB 5395, which passed the state legislature in 2020, to take effect, “thereby requiring,” according to Ballotpedia, “public schools to provide comprehensive sexual health education for all students and requiring students to be excused if requested by their parents.”
Prior to the bill’s approval, 42nd LD Representative Luanne Van Werven, on a February 22, 2020 KGMI Saturday Morning Live radio show, gave folks the false impression that this bill would not let local school districts determine what curriculum they use for sex education.
The bill states, “Any public school may identify, choose, or develop any other curriculum if it complies with the requirements of this section [section 6a of the bill].”
Accordingly, Van Werven’s statement on the show that, “you have one curriculum that they are going to want in all of the schools,” was not true.
Many opponents of this approved bill that would help kids more confidently navigate positive relationships, have made numerous unfounded and salacious allegations related to the legislation. On top of that, former 42nd LD Representative Vincent Buys on a May 30, 2020 Saturday Morning Live show made unfounded, salacious and defamatory claims about Olympia decision-makers regarding the bill.
In my book, the fact that such deceitful tactics were employed to collect referendum signatures, goes to show that there was nothing of substance that opponents of SB 5395 felt they could truthfully persuade people with.
Let’s make sure our youth have all the resources, education and self-determination they need to stay protected and healthy in all of their relationships. Vote to approve Referendum-90!

—Dena Jensen, Birch Bay

End the nuclear threat

August 6 and 9 we will observe the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Recently Pope Francis has declared that it is immoral to possess nuclear weapons.
Our current administration is investing billions in the upgrading of existing weapons, while we are in the midst of a pandemic and there is not enough testing and tracing and American families wait for hours in line to get food to feed their families. All over the world there are more countries that have acquired nuclear capabilities without being signatories to the nonproliferation treaty.
In honor of this anniversary I want to state that I stand in solidarity with the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and with the people of Japan.
I believe that the existence of these weapons pose an unnecessary risk to all life on earth and remain an ongoing theft from those who are poor. I have hope that the UN Treaty to Abolish Nuclear Weapons will be ratified by all nations of the world in an effort to eliminate this frightening threat.
Please join me in this HOPE by visiting

—Annie Welch, Bellingham

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