April 24, 2024: Balancing Policy, Population and Preservation


Bellingham faces a critical moment as state legislation demands more housing here, yet prohibits single-family-only neighborhoods. Where will this housing be, does the City have a plan, and how will our concerns for respecting neighborhood character be honored? Don’t miss this program that will inform us about what’s in store for the future shape of our city!


Garrett O’Brien is owner and President of Volonta Corp., which designs and builds single and multi-family housing here and throughout Northwest Washington. A former Bellingham Planning Commissioner, he also served as a board member of the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County and on the City Loan Review Board, considering applications for funds from the Home Fund Levy. Garrett often is invited to meetings of the Whatcom Housing Alliance, professionals in construction, planning and local government that focus on housing demand, supply and policy. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in construction management from Central Washington University.

Blake Lyon has been Bellingham’s Director of Planning & Community Development since March 1, 2022. Very familiar with neighborhood character, he had more than 20 years extensive experience in local governments dealing with zoning, planning, and permitting in Florida and California. As Redwood City’s Planning and Housing Manager, he was responsible for downtown redevelopment and implementing the city’s Comprehensive Plan. Lyon holds a Bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Principia College and a Master’s degree from Notre Dame de Namur University in San Mateo, CA.

Chris Behee is City of Bellingham Senior GIS Analyst and Long-Range Planning Manager. He tracks data about density, development, the Urban Growth Area, housing supply & demand, and transportation infrastructure.