hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Dock on the Way!

Sending on this good news from Arthur Reber:
Hear ye, hear ye ...
The RCO Grant was funded!
We wil have our dock/pier at Lighthouse Park restored.
The details are buried somewhere in the State and County documents (I'm trying to ferret them out) but here's what I know.
1. The grant is for $240,000.
2. The County is on record providing matching funds at 1 to 3 which means they will put in an additional $80,000.
3. The full $320,000 will be used to replace the wood pilings with steel ones and put in a new pier with the same footprint as the old one.
4. The project is slated to begin in late 2012 and be finished in February of 2013. .
I think we should all give our personal thanks to Mike McFarlane for his efforts in getting the grant and to County Council and Pete Kremen for their support in securing the additional funding.
Arthur Reber
Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee

Friday, June 24, 2011

High Cost Zone

When you head south to cross the border into the U.S. at the Peace Arch crossing, there is a big billboard on the west side of the highway that says, " Now Entering High Cost Medical Zone: Use Caution.". That's where we are now, in the high cost zone that is the University of Washington Medical Center, and we are probably throwing caution to the winds and just using what needs to be used.

In any case, we are in Seattle and not likely to be writing much about Point
Roberts, except to say that when you live in Point Roberts and need some serious medical care, you have to go somewhere else. Sometimes that is Bellingham, and sometimes that is Seattle.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Good Day For Maple Trees

The message following, from a Whatcom County engineer, makes it sound as if the maple canopy is safe, at leat for the moment.

"to all who are concerned:
The Engineering Division will work with the plat applicant to accomplish their impact mitigation improvements to APA Road removing as few trees as possible, if any.  The applicant has proposed the design below for APA Road. They are proposing the APA Road access be 'emergency only' and used for their sales office only.  All plat traffic will use Pauls Road.  Because of this change, the improvements to APA Roadway will be between South Beach Road and Pauls Road.  APA Road will be improved from the existing 20-foot wide roadway with 3-foot gravel shoulders to 22-foot roadway with 4-foot gravel shoulders.  This is a total widening of 4 feet.  The applicant may use curbs, guardrails, turnouts, other methods, or a combination of methods to minimize clear zone and the removal of trees.
Engineering conditions of approval effecting APA Road are:
Off-site improvements to proportionally mitigate the traffic impacts of the development equate to 9,207 square feet of asphalt and 20,790 square feet of gravel shoulder. The result of this is widening of Paul's Road from plat access to APA Rd (widening a total of about 12 feet with asphalt and gravel shoulders) to a minimum of 22 feet wide asphalt with 4-foot gravel shoulders. APA Road shall be widening the same width from Paul's Road intersection to South Beach Road intersection (widening a total width of about 4 feet with asphalt and gravel).
The applicant may use curb and/or guardrail and/or another alternative to meet clear zone requirements while maintaining as many of the trees as feasible. Should any tree have to be taken down, the applicant shall replace it at a ratio of 3 native trees to one tree removed (maximum size commercially available). 
All of the above may be reduced by the County Engineer through an approved traffic report modification.
Take Care,

Mary White
Engineering Division
Whatcom County
(360) 676-6730

Monday, June 20, 2011

Buying Locally

Point Roberts this year has joined in the nationwide movement of buying food produced locally.  In our case, Sagewood Farms (sagewoodfarms.org) has begun its operation on a relatively small scale (planning for 50-75 members in its first summer).  It provides only produce; at least so far, they're not offering eggs or milk or lamb chops, and maybe never.  But produce is a good start, even if it's only for part of the year.

We were a little slow signing up for it largely because I was not sure we could manage that much produce every week.  But, I finally figured out that it was a good idea and on that basis alone, we ought to support it.  And, of course, there was nothing stopping me from sharing this produce with others if it was too much for us.  As it turned out, there was an every-other-week option as well as an every-week one, and every other week is great for us.

All last winter, I was complaining to Ed that I was tired of the very limited supply of vegetables that seemed to be on offer.  The limits were largely that I was tired of six different ways of packaging carrots and iceberg lettuce and, well, I don't know exactly what the problem was.  It just got harder and harder to buy any of it, other than broccoli, of which I am particularly fond.  And now, I find,  thanks to Sagewood that there are new vegetables in the world.  Last delivery, we got Japanese sweet potatoes, which I had never known about; and this delivery, there were French radishes, which are much nicer than the little round red radishes which I wouldn't eat if it was just me and them on earth.  Lovely greens, very nice mushrooms of various kinds, small packets of this and that.  It's a little like Christmas when the shipment box arrives.  So, it's not just a good idea:  it's also attractive, very fresh and tasty produce, an education and a celebration.

If you are interested in joining, you can reach Tom, who makes it possible, here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tentative Good News

There is a preliminary report that Whatcom County Planning is willing to forgo the widening of APA Road in connection with the Lily Point Beach Club. Perhaps they heard our concerted wail? News as it arrives.

And about Vancouver Rioting last night after the last hockey game? I fear that my assessment of the Canadian character will have to become more nuanced. But mostly I'm just shocked. I'm from Los Angeles, so the fact of riots doesn't surprise me, but over an irrelevant game? What will they do when it is something serious?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Community Continues to Be

Last night, the Community Advisory Committee (that's advisory to Whatcom County) met and went through its agenda.  In some ways, the agenda is always the same, although the discussion may differ from time to time.   That's because there's always some kind of development issue that is rubbing lots of people the wrong way; there is always some kind of border concern; there is always something to be said about what is to happen to the gas tax levy money.

The gas tax levy issue produced the news that there is to be installed a streetlight at Johnson and Tyee, and that the gas tax levy moneys will be used to pay the electric bill for that light.  Also that some kind of beautification on Tyee, at the Community Events Sign corner, and at the end of Gulf Road might yet happen with those moneys.  And, finally, that the shoulder of Benson from Tyee to South Beach will have its walking path restored in the near future, assuming we have a summer this year.

And then there's the other things, about which much vaguer things were said, so they shall remain unreported.

The petition to the state and the county about protecting the APA Maple Canopy is being signed by people near and far.  So far, about 370 signators.  We ought to be able to do better than that, but maybe we are yet a community of cranks.  One well known local fellow refused to sign when I offered him an easy access to it at the Saturday Market because 'Maples don't inspire him.'  And, I have to say, he doesn't inspire me, either.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Abandoned House Quilt Reception

 On Wednesday, June 15th from 4 to 7 pm the Point Roberts Historical Society invites the public to visit the new, permanent display "Abandoned Houses of Point Roberts". These 18 beautiful quilts were designed and crafted by local fiber artist Judy Ross and she has generously donated them to the Historical Society and to the people on the Point. Please join us to appreciate the beauty, the artistic detailing and the homage to the rich history of our community.

Well, there's an advertisement for myself. I will be there with the quilts, as will members of the Historicsl Society, many of whom can provide more history about these houses than I can. Please come.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Please to Sign the Petition

Just to the right of this post, you will see in the right hand column, a Notice of a petition to save the maple tree canopy on APA. Click where it says 'here,' read it, and, I hope, sign it, so that we can demonstrate to the state and county the depth of local support for preserving these trees and obtaining Landmark/Heritage status for them.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Gathering Together Information on the Trees

A number of people are writing messages back and forth to one another, but not always fully inclusive, so this is to try to bring together a variety of suggestions and actions.

1.  A number of people have suggested writing to Amy Keenan, both by email and by snail mail, and many such emails and, I hope, snail mails have been sent.  This should continue.

2. Steve Wolff, via Jim Julius, has suggested getting a conservation lien on the part of the land on which the maples grow.  Ed Park thinks that won't work because the maples are largely growing on the County right of way, which is to say that the County already owns that land, so a lien could not be established by the property owners.  Apparently Jim Julius thinks otherwise. Steve also says that the County's easement on the road is sixty feet and that most of the trees are outside that easement.

3.  Jollena Tylor has proposed seeking historic/preservation/heritage status for the entire maple canopy.  Judy Ross will try to get a petition up on line as soon as possible so that we can demonstrate community support on this measure to Planning, recognizing that planning has no role in such designation.  Jollena's husband is looking into whether the County has any office to whom such a request could appropriately be addressed.  It may involve the state.  Judy has asked Pauli DeHaan to help her with the historical approach. Information about the petition, when available, will be sent out on Point Interface and on Judy's blog and on the electronic All Point Bulletin if we can make its deadline (probably not for this thursday).

4.  Mark Robbins believes that the County can issue a variance on the widening the road.

5.  Arthur Reber thinks the County will issue a variance not requiring a road expansion.  Further, he urges the Planning Office not require the developer to provide an entrance to the project on APA but limit the entry road requirement to Paul's Road, thus eliminating the need to do anything to the APA maple trees.

6.  Ed Park counters that the widening of the road (and thus the cutting of the maples) is only peripherally connected to the development permit, in that the County's concern relates to the fact that APA at that point is a substandard road in terms of County standards and, if the development is permitted, the developer can be required to bring the road up to standards; otherwise, the county would have to pay to do that if it wanted that done.  You can read Park's suggestions here: http://getthewholepicture.blogspot.com/2011/06/we-could-do-what_03.html

7.  Many people have offered to chain themselves to the trees for photo purposes and publicity.  Some have offered a 'clothing optional' possibility.

8.  Carol Woodman has offered a connection to TV news.

9.  The All Point Bulletin has been copied on most of the communications.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Lighter Side

We're off to Seattle for a couple of days, so I thought I would send this photo to the County Planning Office with a cheerful "You really don't want to get a lot of old people angry, do you?  That's not going to be a pretty sight."

In fact, now that we have all written serious emails, maybe it would be a good idea to send Amy and her colleagues postcards or notecards that show our more cheerful side, that convey the sense that our objections about this are not personal (i.e., we don't object to her; she after all has a job to do), but that we want to work with her, not against her, all things being equa, to save that maple canopy on APA.  Maybe local kids could send her drawings of how sad they would be if the trees were not there, or what it would look like without trees, or whatever their fertile little imaginations come up with.

And the older kids and the very old kids, too.  Right on up to the old people like us.  We care, we really do!

(Amy Keenan, Whatcom County Planning Services, 5280 Northwest Drive 
Bellingham, Washington 98226 
Telephone: (360) 676-6907))

Friday, June 3, 2011

We Could Do What?

Photographer Ed, temporarily working under the aegis of The Office of Incisive Analysis, has looked at the problems faced by the Whatcom County Planning Office with respect to Saving the APA Maple Canopy project and found some options in potential actions.  He provides them here for your consideration:

There seem to be three general approaches to APA
road widening:

1. DO NOTHING, just leave the current pavement,
   ditch, shoulder, and trees as they are.

   Likely positions on this are:

      Residents: Great, we like it the way it is
      and strongly oppose harming those big maples

      Developer: Great, we like the trees too.
      Besides, this saves us the road widening

      County. Bad; we would have to give up this
      golden chance to bring APA up to current
      standards (22 feet of pavement with 4 foot
      gravel shoulders) at no cost to the county.

   I think we should ask for this, but I don't
   think the county will bite.  A truly
   enlightened county government might, but I bet
   that's more enlightenment than we've got here.

   That would require putting a culvert in the
   ditch, filling the ditch in, and adding 3 feet
   or so of pavement and some gravel on top of the
   culvert.  Four feet of gravel shoulder could go
   on the south side without much harm to the big
   maples.  To alleviate any concern about
   inadequate pedestrian and bike ways, a nice
   gravel path could wind through the trees south
   of the big roadside maples.

   Likely positions:

      Residents: Pretty good! Doesn't change much
      and saves all of the trees.

      Developer: Well, we do like those trees, but
      culverts would add to our design and
      construction costs.  On the other hand, this
      plan would greatly reduce community
      opposition to our project, and that's got to
      be a good thing for us.  On balance?  Gotta
      think about it.

      County: I think they'd go for it.  My quick
      reading of the standards
      [http://tinyurl.com/44d7zbl] makes me think
      this gives them most or all of what they
      need for a standards-compliant APA.  (To
      head off any misunderstanding, these are
      minimum standards for this type of road, and
      do not result from projections of increased

   Three feet of additional pavement and four feet
   of shoulder would require cutting down some of
   the big roadside maples and would gradually
   kill the others through traffic damage to their
   roots.  (Just to be clear, there's really no
   room for compromise between hard paving only on
   the north side (2) or only on the south side
   (3).  That's because the pavement is already
   very close to the edge of the ditch -- no room
   to do anything without filling in that ditch.)

   Likely positions:

      Residents: No, no, no!  To the barricades!  

      Developer: Hate to lose those nice trees,
      but it does save us the culvert costs.  Too
      bad, but whadaya gonna do?

      County: Happy as a clam, even without much
      of a shoulder on the north side of the road.
      That is, unless they worry about fire bombs
      hurled through their office windows by
      disgruntaled Point Roberts residents.
As things stand, the decision is pretty much up to
the developers.  They could have their engineers
draw up either plan (2) or plan (3), with a very
good chance of getting county approval for either

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Do We Want to See This?

Point Interface circulated yesterday's post on saving the maple tree canopy on APA Road and there was a lot of enthusiastic response to it.  It appears that I can buy chains for many and they will join me in front of the bulldozers, or whatever.  I appreciate the company.

One person offered to get a TV camera to come and take pictures of us in chains.  Another suggested that we do it in the nude.  I'm up for either, but perhaps not for both.  Although, if that's what it takes, then that's what it takes.  Consider the possibility.  It's supposed to be 72 degrees here on Saturday so that at least suggests we could pick a sunny day for the clothing optional activities.  Hats, however, would be appropriate.

In the meantime, what you, dear readers, can do while staying in your living room and keeping your warm jackets on is write to Amy Keenan at


Ms. Keenan is in the County Planning Department.

If you've written before, write again, remind her you're still here and getting ever more concerned.  Mention the nude chains (no, maybe don't do that; maintain some decorum, I suppose).  There may well be a hearing later in the month where we can all traipse down to Bellingham to whine and complain in responsible citizen mode before we get into major activist mode.  Also, now you can nag your friends and neighbors to write.  Do the nagging gently; the writing they can do however they want.

More news at 11 p.m., or whenever we get any.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Aux Barricades!

Apparently, the County Planning Department is still feeling some compulsion to follow some rules about widening APA Road where the great cathedral ceiling of maples inspires everyone who has ever been near to it.

The developer doesn't want it to happen (although he wants to build a bunch of homes that triggers its happening), the future home owners will not wish it had happened, nobody who currently lives in Point Roberts wants it to happen, and I suppose the maples themselves, if they were given a voice, would say, "Oh, No, Please!"

But County Planning has rules and if you want to develop that area, you have to widen the road because the road is already substandard.  By having the widening take place upon a development application, the county makes the developer pay to get the road up to standards.  And to widen the road you have to cut down the maples.  And even if, in my lifetime, nobody is going to sell and then build 50 homes in that area, in order to sell ANY homes, the developer will need a construction permit, and to get that, the developer will have to cut down the maples.  And then we can all agree that that was a real shame, given that there are not enough people or houses actually to justify this wider road and these no trees.

We had to destroy the village in order to save it?  Are we going to have to end up lying down in the road in front of the bulldozers as they come down APA Road to do their dirty work?  (Or whatever machines they use; I doubt if axes are on the agenda, so if they send a crew of folks with chain saws, will we have to chain ourselves to the trees? I'm up for it.  I'm mad as hell, etc., etc.).  Perhaps it's time to think of ourselves as about to become part of The Arab Spring, demanding a little democracy for Point Roberts.  To the barricades!