‘Don’t Ballardize Bellingham’ becomes rallying cry for neighborhood group

Ballard has become a verb for some residents in Bellingham who are urging their city to take a measured approach to growth.

“Here in Bellingham we want to learn from the Ballard experience,” explains the Bellingham Neighborhood Coalition, a small advocacy group. “We have adopted the slogan, ‘Don’t Ballardize Bellingham’ to create awareness and activate a neighborhood-based movement.”

The group created a 40-minute YouTube documentary of the same name — you can watch an excerpt here — that explores Ballard’s recent growth and urges viewers to “ensure development reflects the needs of our community, not the needs of non-resident property developers.” It opens with scenes from the Disney movie “Up” and Edith Macefield’s home.

The population in Bellingham grew 2.2% from 2015-2016 — the latest available numbers — which made it #26 of the fastest-growing metros in the country, according to the Bellingham Herald.

(Thanks Cris for sharing the link in the My Ballard Facebook Group)

26 comments on “‘Don’t Ballardize Bellingham’ becomes rallying cry for neighborhood group”

  1. Good for Bellingham. Maybe they can prevent the idiocracy from metastasizing there so they don’t end up with a critical mass of crime and gentrification cheerleaders touting neighborhood destruction as “Local Success!”.

  2. Yes to all of the above in the first comment. I agree. They took the only home I know since childhood and stripped it bare. Truly apart from the ridiculous non-resident developers and their building, is the masses of people moving here. I detest it. It has taken such a toll on this neighborhood and not in a great way. I wish people who moved in the last 20-25 years would find another place to land. People can hate on my comment all they want who think differently but at the end of the day, it’s my opinion, asi chupalo.

  3. Those that can adapt to change thrive, those who resist it will suffer.
    -Abraham Lincoln

  4. Maybe we should build a wall to keep people out of Ballard. Make Ballard Great Again! #MAGA

  5. Does “Change” = Trash, Tents, Tarps, RVs, Needles and Junkies? I’m sorry, I’ll do better and try to adapt.

  6. The mission is noble, but like most of these groups they offer no solution other than wishing it wasn’t happening. In 6 years between 2010 to 2016 Seattle gained 100K people, the same number as the previous 60 years. That kind of growth requires immediate action and compromise by everyone, but ultimately the people with the least financial and political stake have the least say. The neighborhood could have obstructed the process to a degree, but the changes in policy were implemented before they could organize and are now permanently in the books for better or worse. I personally see the growth as a benefit holistically. A major problem is the condos and townhomes littering the community today will not last the decades that the homes they are replacing did. The growth will not stop, but the community could at least force developers to design a community that will last and represent the neighborhood history, long term needs, and aesthetic so after the boom stops it leaves a neighborhood people will want to live in rather than are just settling for based on supply. I think Bellingham should learn from Ballard and become a partner rather than an obstructionist. The latter is much easier to steamroll.

  7. @Commoner

    Quoting Abe is only slightly more cringe-inducing than the ironic “MAGA” comments by Dave.
    Really, you think Ballard has improved for anyone other than developers? Pathetic.

  8. I think Decay and Realist have made some important points. Developers have made a ton of money off of Ballard with very poor planning. Over the last few years, I watched a lot of people, especially many former writers for the Stranger, shrilly call anyone or any neighborhood group who called for restraint and neighborhood input on design a “Nimby”. When building height limits were suggested people sniveled that developers can’t make money off of a building less than 6 stories. Oh boo hoo hoo. Now, it is like a dark wind tunnel in between the QFC and the nearby buildings. Seattle is peculiar in that it is very tolerant of public land grabs, builders limiting coastal access, you name it. Anything to benefit developers. This attitude seems to constitute the much touted ‘Seattle tolerance’ – it appears to be toward developers, not citizens. At least this is what I have noticed since moving here 30 years ago. The problem is, I do not see a mechanism by which the community can force developers to do anything (as Realist suggests) let alone design a lasting community. Even the zoning ordinances are mere window dressing until a developer needs the zoning changed. Anyone have any ideas?

  9. People want a neighborhood to stay exactly as it was when they moved in. Do you think the people who lived here 50 years ago were happy with the way Ballard was 25 years ago? And 25 years from now people will bemoan the Lost Ballard of 2018.

  10. I wish Ballard would return to the good ol’ days, when drugs, hobos and prostitutes were aplenty. The streets were paved with mud and Seattle was a day trip away.

    Then these wusses moved in since that can’t even handle a homeless person without whining like a damn fittetryne!

  11. I whined about Ballard for awhile and then realized that the change happening there wasn’t for me. I had to do something about it. Even though I loved Ballard and lived there for over 15 years it wasn’t what I needed anymore. It changed and so did I. So I moved and bought a house. So happy with my decision. Now I can come visit Ballard with nostalgia and excitement and not hate on all the things I didn’t agree with. I love my new home and my new surroundings too. In the end I think change, whether you agree or not, always has a way of cleansing and reimagining life.

  12. I just love all the talk of nonresident developers and masses of people moving here. Maybe you guys should build. That. Wall?

    Some of the comments above make “neighborhood” the swear word that it has become.

  13. The problem isn’t change or “growth” – it’s that many people CANNOT AFFORD to move to the burbs and buy a $300 – $500k house because it’s “time for a change!”. Those us who live in Ballard and work blue collar or service jobs (cue demeaning, passive aggressive dismissals) are stuck having to watch the neighborhood become not just gentrified, but also scuzzier and more dangerous in places: QFC on 24th after dark, anyone?

    Yeah, it’s cool and all to offer smug advice but it’s but ironic considering Seattleites rant and protest about any and all things intersectional, prgressive, etc but then heckle those of us who see the land grabs and big city giveaways to developers as part of the declining quality of life here – a life we work very very hard to afford and taxed dearly for it. For the 500th time, the “urban density” cheerleaders were foolish, and now Seattle resembles bland places in California where everyone seems to have fled from to move here.

    Yeah, in an age where cans of soup and disposable junk on Amazon has 1000 detailed reviews, “whining” about the neighborhood being ruined isn’t out of order, and it isn’t some “failure of personal growth” to criticize the new, hastily constructed, “upzoned” Ballard. Lord knows we hear enough about Trump from the local “progressives”, so maybe it’s time we pushed back. To make things even funnier, the more affluent Seattleites love to talk about all things European, but oddly, many “crown jewel” cities on the Continent have all sorts restrictions on developers to prevent the staggering increase in traffic and destruction of the cities’ character and aesthetic. I’m sure you enjoy your latte “exactly” how you like, so maybe some of us just want a neighborhood that isn’t bulldozed and replaced with giant Lego monstrosities or corny early 90’s postmodern eyesore construction.

  14. I was born and grew up in King County. I’m proud to say that I’m now a Ballard resident. My wife and I chose to move here to start our family; our boy was born in Swedish Ballard in 2016 and our little girl will be born there in about a week or so.

    I’ve worked at a local architecture firm for some 12 years now, we designed one of the major new condo complexes near market street, with a local developer – so no, not all up-zone projects are work of “outsiders.”

    Just now, I can listen to the hammers and compressors of workcrews across the street, as they build two new homes where one once stood. While the previous owner had lived there since the 1950’s, it was pretty run down. Now, they’re building two new efficient homes its place. If the neighborhood demographics hold, these structures will likely become two homes to two more families in the neighborhood.

    Yes, neighborhoods change – and many people don’t like change. Me? I love seeing vibrant storefronts, families moving in, schools bursting with kids and a thriving local economy with more restaurants and grocery stores than you could ever name.

    Are there negatives involved? For sure. But I believe the benefits far outweigh them.

  15. We need transit and society oriented development, not profit oriented development. We have an entire light rail line with tumbleweeds around some stations.

  16. “the masses of people moving here. I detest it.”

    Are you Native American then?

  17. @Smug:

    “…but also scuzzier and more dangerous in places.”

    Whatever you do, young whippersnapper, don’t go in a time machine back to Ballard, crica 1890 to 1980. You’ll wring your poor, snowflake hands to the bone and won’t be able to press the button to return to the “terrible” present!

  18. Change is an essential truth of life and I’d prefer to increase density in areas where existing infrastructure exists, and where future transit is planned, than to have to build on greenfield development and/or push the urban growth boundary outward into the Cascade foothills. Ballard, and Seattle, will never again be as some nostalgic people want it to return to. This is the new Ballard and Seattle and the sooner you adapt to this new reality the easier it will be for you to stomach all the additional change that will continue as our region adds another million people over the next 20 years. We can do our best to guide change, but resisting will only be futile.

  19. We can do better here in Ballard. The worst problem is self inflicted by our government, the massive influx of criminals that are physically destroying the neighborhood, brought by outrageous policies that treat everyone on the street with the same cookie cutter approach to the euphemism “homeless.” That is easy to fix with the right people in government. Requiring appropriate infrastructure for development isn’t that hard either. Going back and creating infrastructure for too much built without it will be a little harder, but certainly achievable. Change is here and we either learn and adapt or…. leave.

  20. @Steve A
    Thanks for the overpriced, unaffordable eyesores and the endless construction noise. Is your entire arch firm blind or do they just slap the ugliest ideas together as some kind of inside joke?
    Yeah change happens but so does cancer.
    Glad it made you and whomever you golf with wealthier. Huzzah. Trump isn’t the only greedy, tasteless developer out there it seems.

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