BirchBay is an unincorporated UGA (urban growth area) in the northwest corner of Whatcom County, WA. It consists of approximately 8,699 acres located 6 miles south of the City of Blaine and the Canadian border on the GeorgiaStrait. The U.S. Census showed BirchBay with 2,656 persons in 1990 and in the year 2000 with 4,961 persons, an increase of 87%. BirchBay in 2007 was estimated to have approximately 5,900 persons (Berk & Assoc.). See the Wikiperia link above for the 2010 census figures. The Birch Bay Subarea Plan calls for a year 2022 population of 9,619 persons.
BirchBay has been a resort destination for over 100 years with 51% of the housing stock in year 2000 being seasonally occupied according to the U. S. Census. The summer population is estimated to double to quadruple (2 to 4 times) in size according to the Birch Bay Water & Sewer District. Also in year 2000, a mailing to property owners showed that approximately 33% of property owners were Canadian. The growth today is probably more in permanent residents but vacation properties are also growing, including the addition of time-shares and hotel properties. Forecasting is further complicated by the fact that vacations homes can be turned into permanent residences without any changes being apparent. The mailing address for BirchBay is Blaine, WA98230.
WhatcomCounty in 1997 made BirchBay an urban growth area where growth is allowed and urbanization is encouraged. The community has seen this growth and has decided, as community, that this growth must occur responsibly with considered deliberation and that the quality of life that has drawn people here in the first place must, at least, be maintained if not improved.
We the People of Birch Bayhereby set forth a vision statement and pledge our commitment to achieve a common vision for the future of the Birch Bay Community. We the people of Birch Bay have identified a set of central values which we as a Community hold in common: • We believe that the essence of a prosperous and vibrant Community is found not in its structures but in the collective spirit of those who live and work within the Community. We hold that the built aspects of a community - its transportation network, utility system, buildings and other facilities - should not be considered ends in themselves, but as means for enhancing the quality of life and enriching the human spirit. • We respect the picturesque setting of Birch Bay and believe that any development along its shores must achieve harmony between this natural and man-made environment.
• We believe that certain controls on the choices of individual action are appropriate to ensure that the community’s best interests are realized.
• We believe that human activities should be considered as one component of a complex system of relationships among living things and their environment and that we have a responsibility to ourselves and to future generations to seek a mutually supportive balance within this system.
From the Birch Bay Community Plan as adopted in 2004.
Building a Better Birch Bay, 2006 article about the Birch Bay Steering Committee
Birch Bay Community Plan Accomplishments 2000-2012
November 20, 2012
To: The Whatcom County Council past and present,
Past County Executive Pete Kremen and
Present County Executive Jack Louws
From: On behalf of the Birch Bay Community by Doralee Booth and Kathy Berg
RE: Thank You for consistent partnering with the Birch Bay Community
As we embark on this new, very significant partnership to restore the shoreline of Birch Bay, we want to recognize and applaud the partnership we have enjoyed for the last 12 years to plan and implement for the benefit and betterment of our local and Whatcom County community.
We took some time to make a list and it is an impressive demonstration of citizen/government cooperation.
Birch Bay Community Plan, subarea plan of the County comprehensive plan
Update of the Transportation chapter of the Community Plan
Birch Bay Shoreline Enhancement Phase 1 and Phase 2A
Birch Bay Comprehensive Stormwater Plan
Birch Bay Design Guidelines and Standards
Birch Bay Incorporation Study
Birch Bay Watershed Characterization and Watershed Planning Pilot Study
Birch Bay Watershed Action Plan and LID Manual
Establishment of BBWARM (Birch Bay Watershed and Aquatic Resources Management) district addressing stormwater and water quality including regular maintenance and improvement projects.
Re-construction of Lincoln Road Phase 1
Established year-round 25 mph speed limit on BB Drive and elsewhere
BB Lynden/Portal Way signalization /improvement project
Neighborhood Deputy assigned to Birch Bay
Partnership with Northwest Park and Rec for a community recreation center and a children’s playground at Bay Horizon Park
Bay Horizon Park improvements including demolition of derelict buildings
New signage for County beaches and parks
The people of Birch Bay prioritized their wishes in 2004 –
Number 1 was restoration of the shoreline and promenade (Birch Bay Drive & Pedestrian Facility Project) and
Number 2 was stormwater management and water quality improvement (BBWARM).
Thank you again!
The Steering Committee and the Implementation Subcommittees
The Birch Bay Steering Committee is Birch Bay’s version of the town hall meeting where we come together as community to discuss concerns, questions and opportunities in an effort to take charge of our own future.
The Steering committee:
Is not empowered by any official authority,
Does not answer to any constituency, and
Does not have any mechanism to enforce its recommendations.
The Steering Committee:
Is only as representative as those who choose to participate.
Is a direct communication from the people but does not claim to represent all the people in the community.
Is a group of the community which works towards education and consensus or, at least, tries to define issues/differences/opportunities.
The job of the chair of the Steering Committee is to facilitate civil, respectful discussion, provide organization and a means of communication and to encourage responsibility and resourcefulness. The chair does not speak for the whole community or for the Steering Committee except when expressly directed to do so by the Committee.
The Steering Committee coordinates the work of the implementation subcommittees. The formal organization of voting representatives exists for those occasions when the community needs to speak as one with a service provider or on a specific issue. The Steering Committee usually meets on the 4th Wednesday of the month when there is a need or desire to do so. The Chair is Kathy Berg, Vice Chair is Doralee Booth. See also the History page.
Implementation subcommittees of the Birch Bay Steering Committee are implementing the Birch Bay Community Plan, the subarea plan of the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan as originally adopted September 28, 2004 and may have been amended since. ALL meetings are open to the public and your participation is encouraged if you are a resident and/or property owner in the Birch Bay area.
Implementation Subcommittees and those working for the betterment of the Birch Bay include:
Incorporation – has studied the feasibility of incorporation as suggested in the Community Plan.
Birch Bay Waterfront Group - working with the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce to restore shoreline natural habitat and processes, modernize infrastructure and build a berm with promenade on top from Terrell Creek north to Roger's Slough (aka Seagull Cove or Stinky Cove). See ShorelineRestoration-Berm page on this site or go to http://www.birchbaywaterfront.org/
Design Guidelines - Has developed, with the community and the aid of a consultant, design standards for the resort, neighborhood and general commercial zones of the Birch Bay UGA, beginning to answer the question, "What do we want Birch Bay to look and feel like?"
Land use/Economic Development/Infrastructure –
Transportation/Public Safety – Co-chaired by Doralee Booth and Claudia Hollod.
Parks, Recreation & Open Space – Actively worked towards the reactivation of the Northwest Parks and Recreation District. http://www.nwparkandrec.org/
BBWARM (Birch Bay Watershed and Aquatic Resource Management District) and the Birch Bay Shellfish Protection District - The combined citizen advisory committees meet on the 3rd Wednesday of each month. http://www.bbwarm.whatcomcounty.org/
Birch Bay School – working with the Blaine School District to establish a school in the Birch Bay UGA. Co-chairs are Doralee & Bill Booth. See the A School for Birch Bay page at this website.
Emergency Preparedness Task Force - Chair is Ruth Higgins. Go to http://www.co.whatcom.wa.us/dem/index.jsp
Chums of Terrell Creek (N-SEA) - salmon habitat restoration. Chair is Elie Friedlob. Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association website http://www.n-sea.org/