Wally Wonders Why No editor, no publisher, you get what you get

July 6, 2011

Signs and Taxes in Ferndale

I had a chance to drop in on last night’s Ferndale City Council meeting. I was an hour late, but enough in time to hear a little public as well as council opinion on a couple of the latest news items: the proposal for an add on gas tax and political signs.

In my opinion the thought of boosting the retail price of gas in Ferndale by even 1 penny, is ludicrous. We already buy gas only as needed in Ferndale, trying to save fill ups for trips we are already making to Costco or Fred Meyers. The bigger the price difference, the more we’ll avoid Ferndale.

I’ve also thought it pretty chump of the council to consider this tax at all, because it is authorized as a way to fund road repairs from all the Canadian traffic. Well the Canadians are wearing out the roads around Costco and Bellis Fair, not here in Ferndale. Councilman Malpezzi was the only one I heard make reference to this fact, while the dishonest nature of considering this didn’t seem to bother others.

In the end the council tied on whether to propose this to the voters and then failed the measure after Mayor Jensen cast the tie breaker vote.

I found it a bit surprising coming from a mayor that has headed so much spending, but I guess that’s why Ferndale has so much debt. Politically it was probably a good move from a man who is campaigning to keep his seat as Mayor of Ferndale; nothing will kill a campaign quicker than stomping on small businesses and telling voters that they need to pay higher taxes.

On the other interesting topic in Ferndale, the Council voted unanimously to firm up campaign/political sign rules and allow 4′ x 8′ signs in areas other than residential. Since everyone there readily admitted that they never enforced the existing rules, ya gotta’ wonder why they are making a change at all?   And today in a FB post about the newly annexed areas, City of Ferndale made a special note that,

The City also will enforce the City’s sign code in this area. Offsite signs that were not permitted by Whatcom County are to be removed.

You wonder where all this is coming from and with the little tiff over Norbert Rojsza display, are they planning on starting signage enforcement now, and if so on who will the enforcement fall?

And did I mention also that at the Ferndale Council Meeting there was a point made that the fine for violating the sign code was not just $500, but $500 per day and penalty could include jail time?   And did I mention that this discussion brought a lot of smiles and a chuckle or two from the Council, City employees and Mayor?  Check it out Audio Clip

Where were the Ferndale Sign Police when the mondo casino sign went up off Slater?   Oh, that’s right the City worked with the Tribes to put up that sign which advertises gambling and smoking, yet they seem poised to come down hard on anyone seeking office in Ferndale.  What the heck?

January 27, 2010

Welcome to Ferndale

Filed under: Local Issue — Tags: , , , — wally @ 9:25 pm


As a follow up to yesterday’s post Redefining Ferndale I drove by the now erected sign.  I did email Ferndale’s  Mayor Jensen, but noticed he was involved in a little restructuring so I don’t expect any sort of timely response. (oops, my bad see comments)

Anyway, quite a sight to behold now towering 80 feet above I-5 and the surrounding areas.  I can hardly wait to see it all lit up like the Skagit and Tulalip Casinos.  Really, I’ve grown tired of an orange glowing harvest mood hanging low and alone in the evening sky.  I think we’re all ready to put that boredom behind us and let some blindingly bright animations takeover our quiet October sky.  Of course I’m joking about this 80 foot eyesore.

Yes, I know that this is on tribal trust land so without regards for local rules and regulation they can invoke there sacred aboriginal Lummi right to glow at night.  I get it.  But what they can do and could do are two entirely different things.  They can put up this eyesore and they did, but they could have respected the concerns of the rest of us in Ferndale and surrounding areas by tempering what they want with what others want.  That’d be the neighborly thing to do, even if just a little bit.

The people of Ferndale have defined in the Ferndale Municipal Code 18.80 how they’d like signs to look in our area of Whatcom County.  If you’re insane, you might want to read the whole 50 pages, otherwise here’s a taste.

Off-premises signs are prohibited.

Electronic signs which include animations are prohibited

Electronic signs shall be no greater than 25 feet in height

Lighting for signs shall be held to the minimum needed to convey the sign’s message.

Sign lighting shall not be so bright and distracting as to be a traffic hazard.

Lighting of signs shall be in character with the building/development and surrounding area.

So using what I’ve seen and extrapolating from the Skagit and Tulalip casino signs it looks like the Silver Reef sign will be off-premise, animated, 3 times higher than 25 feet, more than minimally lighted, distracting, and quite out of character with surrounding areas.  The Silver Reef sign appears, in these major aspects, to be the exact opposite of what we’d like to see in our town.   This and cutting access to Lummi Island  just gives me a warm fuzzy feeling; how ‘bout you?

OK, that was part one.  Part two/too is “what the heck was the City of Ferndale thinking about during their involvement with this project?”   The Bellingham Herald reported that “the tribe has worked with the city on its design.”   And they also reported Ferndale City Administrator Greg Young as saying “We figured it was better to work cooperatively with the Lummis rather than try to oppose it,” What?  Was it going to be even bigger and brighter and you worked with them to keep it just under 80 feet?  And by working cooperatively I’m seeing that you cooperated with whatever they wanted and in return they gave you the fing… well you get what I mean and I’m pretty sure that’s all we got.

Oh, yes, I forgot the “Welcome to Ferndale” sign.  We got that and wow is it a double blessing.  First we will no longer be known for the Nooksack River, Hovander Park, Pioneer Park, Ferndale football, etc.  I was getting as tired of that as I was the harvest moon.  We’ll soon be known for our hotel, casino, spa and yes, our tobacco shop.   And second, that new 80 foot brightly lit Silver Reef/Welcome to Ferndale” sign will now direct  I-5 traffic to Exit 260 and away from Exit 262 and all of the downtown businesses.   That’d be the other fing…again I’m sure you got it.

3-7-10 update

After reviewing Ferndale City Council meeting minutes I find it quite evident that the city council both approved of and assisted the Lummi Nation in erecting the sign.  In 2005, while working on an Economic Development Accord with the Lummi Nation, the city council reviewed the land purchase noting that signage for the Silver Reef would be placed there.  They also noted that the Lummi Nation had applied to convert the land to trust.

In August of 2008 the council had a chance to appeal the conversion of the land to trust, but instead they unanimously agreed to support the conversion.

I feel more than ever that the City of Ferndale put the wants of the Lummi Nation ahead of the people of Ferndale that they were elected to represent.

April 24, 2008

Hope & Change in Ferndale

cf Gotcha!  Did you think that mister hope and change himself, Barack Obama, was coming for a visit?

Sorry, the hope and change I’m speaking of is a bit more tangible.  It is the hope that the already great city of Ferndale, can be a much better place to live.  Change Ferndale, is new organization with that goal.

The mission of Change Ferndale is to enact positive change and improve the city of Ferndale, WA We will do so by 1) Improving communications between residents and city officials 2) Improving communication between residents and the School District 3) Offer an open forum for discussion of the issues facing the city of Ferndale 4) Endorse policy that the organization approves of, and React to policy that offends the organization and its participants

While I think this is a worthy cause for an organization, I have to admit that I have a concern about an organization to improve communication, not listing it’s membership.  A blog writer with a semi-secret nom de plume is quite a bit different than a political action group with undisclosed membership.  Especially a group who states that their first move involves gathering “a small amount of money so that we may get signs posted around Ferndale stating our position.”   Money and secrecy don’t mix well.

However, I agree with their first project, confronting Ferndale School District’s seeming obsession with putting us taxpayers $21,000,000 dollars more in debt.  I hope Change Ferndale will soon reconsider their secrecy.  It will make it easier to support their efforts on this issue and perhaps others in the future. 

Please don’t let my concern stop you from going over to Change Ferndale and learning more about them and this $21 million dollar bill that FSD is trying to serve to us.  I’ll be check in NO during the second vote on this issue and I hope you will too.

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