Family Definition: Accommodating Today's Families

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Picture of scrabble letters spelling out the word "family"

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PROJECT SUMMARY

Over the past several years, both City Council and residents have identified the current Family definition (as used in Bellingham Municipal Code Chapter 20.08) as one area that should be reviewed to reflect changed demographics and address housing inequities. The project also has the potential to implement many of the Comprehensive Plan's goals and policies, including those related to housing, equity and compact growth.

After reviewing the history of Family definitions, litigation around this issue, and examples from other communities, the following principles were developed to guide the discussion on potential changes to the Family definition:

  • Protect health and safety;
  • Accommodate the very changed reality of “family”;
  • Provide housing choice that is responsive to the new reality of family while considering neighborhood character. Character is not defined by ownership; rather, construction type and building form help shape it;
  • Respect the privacy of residents; and
  • Consider legal and enforcement issues associated with the City's existing and possible future Family definition.

For more information on this project, go to cob.org/familydefinition.

We want your input!

  • Ask us a question by clicking on the "Ask A Question" tab!
  • View recent survey results by clicking on the “Tell Us What You Think” tab.


PROJECT SUMMARY

Over the past several years, both City Council and residents have identified the current Family definition (as used in Bellingham Municipal Code Chapter 20.08) as one area that should be reviewed to reflect changed demographics and address housing inequities. The project also has the potential to implement many of the Comprehensive Plan's goals and policies, including those related to housing, equity and compact growth.

After reviewing the history of Family definitions, litigation around this issue, and examples from other communities, the following principles were developed to guide the discussion on potential changes to the Family definition:

  • Protect health and safety;
  • Accommodate the very changed reality of “family”;
  • Provide housing choice that is responsive to the new reality of family while considering neighborhood character. Character is not defined by ownership; rather, construction type and building form help shape it;
  • Respect the privacy of residents; and
  • Consider legal and enforcement issues associated with the City's existing and possible future Family definition.

For more information on this project, go to cob.org/familydefinition.

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Please submit a question about this project and a staff member will respond to you soon.

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    We're definitely in Spring 2021 at this point, is this matter on the schedule / agenda for the planning commission yet?

    JusticeIsWhatLoveLooksLikeInPublic asked 4 months ago

    The Washington State Legislature is establishing statewide occupancy standards (HB 5235). Should the Governor sign this legislation, the City will bring its codes into conformity with state law.

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    Dick Conoboy mentioned a e-mail he provided to the Planning Commission during last night's work session. Can we have a copy of that e-mail? R. Perry Eskridge, Whatcom REALTORS®

    Whatcom County REALTORS® asked 10 months ago

    Thank you for your question. All written public comments that are submitted for Planning Commission and City Council meetings, and aren't submitted via Engage Bellingham, are posted on the City's webpage at cob.org/familydefinition.