Business and Neighborhood Temporary Uses of City Streets and Rights of Way

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​​The City is exploring enhanced connections between arterial trails, sidewalks and bicycle corridors.

​The City has received requests from several people and organizations to re-purpose streets and rights of way in various ways. We are considering those proposals and studying the actions of other similar-sized cities. Our primary goals as we evaluate these proposals are:

In light of those goals, we are exploring options for City streets and rights of way that are:

  • Low cost to implement, in terms of staff time, equipment, and funding.
  • Durable and lasting, for the months ahead and possibly ​beyond our COVID-19 response.
  • Consistent with existing City plans and policies, particularly our bike and ped plans.

With economic recovery a top priority, we are working with businesses and other stakeholders to consider street and rights of way changes that are supportive of business activities resuming. We want to take steps that are welcome and supportive at a time when our businesses are experiencing extreme financial stress.

Steps Being Explored

Business use of rights of way: Businesses interested in using public rights of way and underutilized parking spaces to support alternate service delivery, such as take-out pick-up or drop-off, are encouraged to contact the permit center for a temporary right of way use permit.  We are looking at ways to simplify the approval process for requests for temporary use of rights of way for these types of purposes.

Enhanced connections and wayfinding: The City also is looking at opportunities to enhance connections and improve wayfinding between existing arterial trails and existing sidewalks and bicycle corridors.  Examples we are considering include:

  • Changes to the sidewalk on King Street at the end of the Railroad Trail terminus;
  • A protected crossing on Cornwall at the Whatcom Creek trail;
  • Improvements on the Whatcom Creek Trail behind Habitat for Humanity ;
  • Increased wayfinding connecting the South Bay Trail to Railroad Avenue from Laurel and north connecting to the Railroad Trail;
  • Increased wayfinding between Ellis and the Whatcom Creek Trail along Kansas to Meador.

Neighborhood street closures: In response to requests that the City consider neighborhood street closures, we are developing a process for neighborhood-empowered local access closures specifically during COVID-19. Such temporary closures would be initiated and sponsored by a neighborhood association or by residents on a street. The City would create guidelines, specify streets that are eligible, accept and review applications, and provide and deliver signage and barricades for approved local-access-only street closures. Street residents or neighborhood association representatives would submit applications and obtain approval from directly affected adjacent residents.

Again, we are considering the proposals we have received and appreciate the ideas people are bringing forward.  We welcome those ideas and others. We are thoughtfully considering a range of ideas that are responsive to the needs of all residents and businesses. We anticipate making decisions in the next week or so, and will announce any street and right-of-way changes on our website and via City of Bellingham news and social media.​

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