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2016 Comprehensive Plan Update

The City of Bellingham is in the process of updating its 2006 Comprehensive Plan, a 20-year planning document that sets the framework for the physical, social and economic development of the City. The update is not an overhaul of the existing plan; rather, the new plan will reflect new public input, changes in state law, and new population and employment growth forecasts. It will also reflect the City's Legacies and Strategic Commitments, which emphasize a healthy environment, vibrant economy, sense of place, equity and other important goals. The update must be adopted by June 30, 2016, to ensure compliance with the Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA).

Planning Commission / City Council Meetings

Several meetings have been held since October 10, 2013. Click here to view the list of meetings and to view the  presentations made by staff.

Public Participation

Written Public Comment - The public is invited to submit written comment throughout the Comprehensive Plan update process. Written comments may be submitted to: Planning and Community Development Department Attn: Greg Aucutt, Assistant Director - 210 Lottie St., Bellingham, WA 98225     Email:

Open Houses

September 15, 2015 - Approximately 50 people attended an open house at Old City Hall (Whatcom Museum). Participants visited "topic tables" to talk with staff and provide feedback on issues such as urban villages, sustainability, innovation, housing affordability and choices, and healthy communities. Focus group discussions on the topics of land use, transportation, the environment, and economic development were also held with Planning Director, Rick Sepler. The Comprehensive Plan will be reviewed and updated by focusing on key refinements identified by the community, the Planning Commission and City Council, and to meet technical requirements established by the state. Click here for more information on this event.

March 17, 2015 - Over 115 people from neighborhoods throughout Bellingham attended an open house at the Squalicum Boathouse. Following a brief presentation, participants visited "topic tables" to talk with staff and provide feedback on the tradeoffs associated with options for accommodating future growth and development. The input gathered helped to frame recommendations on the City's urban growth area boundaries. Click here for more information on this event.

Engage Bellingham

Earlier this year, the city launched Engage Bellingham, a new community engagement website where citizens can connect, communicate and collaborate with decision makers and other residents on the future of our community. The goal is to involve broad representation of citizens in the planning process. Along the way, Engage Bellingham will be used as an online tool to generate new ideas and feedback from citizens using this interactive and accessible platform.

The discussion started with the following questions and branched off from there based on input:

In August, the site hosting the conversations, MindMixer, received a new look and is now called mySidewalk. The summary report includes input received via the prior site from March through July 2015. Summary statistics and sample ideas with the most interactions are listed for each open-ended question. Full results are also available via a separate report.

The City encourages residents to share their ideas, be heard and build a better community through participation in Engage Bellingham. Go to today and register to provide your feedback.

Public Survey

As part of the public input process for the Comprehensive Plan update, the city asked the community where an additional 36,000 people should live and work over the next 20 years in an online survey from 9/15 - 10/20. The Comprehensive Plan Update Survey received 1202 total responses from neighborhoods throughout Bellingham.


To be notified of up-coming meetings and progress updates, send an email to:


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