About the York Neighborhood Association
Revised 2019-02-17 1907
Features and Accomplishments of the York Neighborhood Association (YNA)
Environment & Community Pride
Quality of Life & Aesthetics
YNA provides forums for those living in the York Addition or Neighborhood to improve security and quality of life in a number of ways. Foremost in security is getting to know your neighbors. So YNA sponsors a number of social events including the Annual Picnic and the Annual Caroling Wagon Ride. We also help foster or encourage Neighborhood Watch. We have hosted and promoted a number of neighborhood-wide events such as celebrating the 100-year anniversary of Nelsons Market with a parade, skateboard/bike ramps, live music, and a huge barbeque and afternoon social.
We invite the city officials to attend many of our meetings and events to get better acquainted and to learn how to better assist them with their jobs toward our security needs and to better communicate our needs and concerns. Bellingham Police Department assigns officers to their neighborhood program and it is typical for a "Neighborhood Officer" or "Neighborhood Sergeant" to attend.
We meet with police and others well versed, or at least experienced, in how to deal appropriately with problem residences and businesses.
As noted, YNA sponsors a number of general socials for all neighbors and the broader Bellingham community, including special activities for youth.
In partnership with the City, YNA hosts a number of targeted clean-ups of the two parks in York, Harriet Spanel (formerly Franklin) and Rock Hill, as well as private lots that have become too attractive to substance abusers and/or were dangerous to our youth and other vulnerable neighbors.
YNA successfully drove to create Rock Hill Park from abandoned lots next to Interstate 5 (I-5) which had become an eyesore as well as a location for substance abuse and a staging site for other criminal activity. We cleared the underbrush and, with the help of the City Parks Department, bordered off the parking lot. We have since added a basketball half-court, play-equipment area, and picnic bench with a grant from a memorial fund.
Three outdoor sites had become shooting galleries. All three have been cleared of underbrush and have ceased to be consistently utilized in that manner as long as volunteers continue to manage the vegetation and refuse. The latter is an ongoing task led by YNAs Park Stewards coordinating volunteers and working with the Citys Parks Department.
Environment & Community Pride
We host an annual neighborhood clean-up, coordinated with the Citys litter control officer and Sanitary Service Company (SSC). This is held in the spring on or near Earth Day and includes a dumpster sponsored by SSC and Republic Services and YNA where neighbors can dispose of large refuse items without expense. Said large refuse includes items such as the odd appliances or chairs that appear in the allies or yards.
As noted above under Security, YNAs Park Stewards coordinate cleaning, planting, and many maintenance tasks at our two parks.
YNA provides a number of forums regarding homelessness, zoning, including parking and density levels, a high-voltage-line issue, traffic management, sound barriers between York and I-5, development issues and issues dealing with changes in property usages that impact localized and generalized areas of York as well as surrounding areas and districts, and more.
Quality of Life & Aesthetics
With a combination of ad hoc and loosely organized committees, YNA has provided forums and leadership regarding the interests of maintaining a quality of life, property values, character of neighborhood properties, and play areas for our youth.
YNA is incorporated as a not-for-profit organization with the State of Washington. YNA has bylaws and an elected Board of Directors, including a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and other appointed positions. Appointed positions include representatives to the Mayors Neighborhood Advisory Commission. Other positions are appointed as needed or if a person demonstrates a desire to serve in a manner beneficial to the organization and the neighborhood.
Dues are collected on a strictly voluntary donation basis. However, all York residents, businesses, and landowners are considered members of the association with full voting rights and included in YNA activities as long as they so desire. As noted, dues have no relationship to voting status.
The Yorker is published as needed or roughly on a quarterly basis and ranges from simple announcements of calendar items to feature articles in many issues.
The YNA was founded sometime before 1977.
Some issues that YNA has shouldered include:
- Block Grants for:
- 2008: $2,500Franklin Street Island (new trail, improved path, replaced invasive non-native plants, stone benches)
- 20052009: Multiple grants and funding sources totaling more than $450KHarriet Spanel Park (then Franklin Park) renovation (see below)
- 199X: $2,500Neighborhood sign on Magnolia and Ellis streets
- 1994: $10,093Rock Hill Park improvements (landscaping, lights, picnic table, pathway, basketball court)
- 1990: $11,502Harriet Spanel Park (then Franklin Park) playground equipment, turf restoration
- 1989: $4,920Rock Hill improvements (signage, trees, lamppost, table tree planting, parking area repair - upper level)
- 1982: $13,000500-foot sidewalk repair
- 1982: $33,000Rock Hill land acquisition
- Harriet Spanel Park renovation (then Franklin Park). YNA and the City started planning in 2005 or earlier. YNA and the City were successful in acquiring grants and other funding in excess of $450 thousand to replace aging playground equipment, create a new peripheral walk, new picnic tables, new pavilion, new basketball hoop and partial court, and other new play apparatus. Drainage was improved for the sports area. Existing trees were addressed by an arborist, and new trees and other landscaping were added or improved. Work started in fall 2005 and continued through 2009. The park grand opening was on November 14, 2009.
- Communications with the City
- Neighborhood security
- Lighting the neighborhood, one house at a time
- Block Watch
- Partnering with police
- Getting to know your neighbor
- And more
- Neighborhood quality of life
- Positive ways to deal with problem neighbors
- Positive ways to deal with party houses
- Positive ways to deal with inattentive landlords
- Greenways improvements (the tree project, etc.)
- Neighborhood Plan amendments and updates
- One of the driving forces behind the Samish Way Urban Village initiative and resulting plans.
- Successfully proposed the concept transitional height limits on the border of tall sub areas directly next to shorter residential sub areas. In in the transition, the height limitations were graduated in 10 foot increments to avoid loss of sunlight, disproportion, privacy, and other issues.
- Identified and championed an unused area for considerable infill opportunity (as much as 800 additional housing units).
- Negotiated mixed-use and parking modifications in an area close to down town that has since been utilized in new development resulting in additional housing units not previously available.
Geography & Demographics
The York Addition or York Neighborhood
Part of the original York Addition, the York Neighborhood is divided into three sub-neighborhoods.
This section is bounded by Whatcom Creek to the north, I-5 to the east, Lakeway Drive to the south, and Ellis Street to the west. The North section is the largest geographically and demographically (residents). The North section includes the Bellingham Grocery Outlet, Nelsons Market, a hearing center, medical practices, realtors (on Lakeway), and a number of home office businesses.
South is the next-largest section, bounded to the north by Lakeway Drive, to the east by I-5, on the south by Maple Street and Samish Way, and on the west by Ellis Street. The South section has a number of businesses at its south end on or near Samish Way, including a motel, three restaurants, and an auto-wash and automotive lubrication business. The businesses are, for the most part, segregated from the greater part of the South section by Edwards Street. The cul-de-sacs of the cross streets of Edwards help to segregate the north side (the greater part) of the South section from the retail businesses in the southern end. However, realty companies on Lakeway and a number of home-office-based businesses do reside in the north side of this section as well.
The West section is roughly triangular and is bordered by State Street to the northwest, Ellis Street to the east, and Holly Street to the southwest. The West has the most businesses and is a transition from residential to downtown business in nature as well as in zoning. The businesses range from professional to retail. The largest church in the neighborhood, the Garden Street United Methodist Church, is located here as well. Most of the residences are constructed as single-family, this section is home to the wood-frame apartment building Magnolia Court, with a new multi-unit building built in 2017.
As implied above, York is a mix of residences and small businesses. Of the residences roughly half are owner-occupied and half are rented. In the late 80s, owner occupancy grew over 50% and has hovered around there since. However, there are a number of apartment buildings scattered throughout as well as a number of single-family-residence rental properties, some of which have been remodeled to accommodate multiple renters. Many of the latter are rented by students attending Western Washington University (WWU), Whatcom Community College (WCC), Bellingham Technical College (BTC), and Northwest Indian College (NIC); other renters include some of the universitys professors and staff as well as residents just getting started in life.
The demographics described here is by no means the result of scientific study.
Surrounding Neighborhoods, Districts, and Areas
North of York
To the north is a relatively medium-density business area with small to medium businesses, in one- or two-story structures, including car dealerships, automotive shops, a restaurant, small retail businesses, and others. This is the south edge of the Sunnyland neighborhood, as well as the southwestern corner of the Roosevelt neighborhood.
Also, the Whatcom Creek Trail runs along Yorks northern edge, mostly along Meador Avenue. This trail connects Bellingham Bay with Lake Whatcom and includes a marvelous stretch along the creek starting at Yorks northeast corner, just west of the I-5 underpass near Meador Avenue and King Street a treat for pedestrians and cyclists alike alongside reconstructed meanders created to mitigate this hitherto flood-prone stretch of Whatcom Creek.
East of York
East of York and I-5 is the Puget neighborhood, a residential area with some homes and a number of apartments. Its a lower-density business area including two of Bellinghams largest hotels to smaller strip malls with larger grocery and hardware stores as well as small retail and restaurant storefronts, realtors, and other restaurants and small businesses.
Not far from I-5 and York is the location of the Bellingham sports complex, including Arne Hanna Aquatic Center, Civic Stadium (football, soccer, lacrosse, track and field), the Bellingham Sportsplex (indoor soccer, hockey, ice skating, indoor pole vaulting), the skate park, Frank Geri softball fields (amateur baseball/softball), and Joe Martin baseball stadium (semi-pro and amateur). The complex is the home field for a number of semi-pro teams playing football, baseball, and soccer and for Bellinghams high schools for most of the sports noted before. These are reached from York either via Lakeway at the midpoint or by passing under I-5 via Meador Avenue, along the north edge of York.
This is also the location of the closest elementary school, Carl Cozier Elementary. However, York has been districted or gerrymandered out of Carl Coziers coverage area, and York students are bused to other schools farther away. This situation is also true at the middle-school and high-school levels. Not that anyone minds. Its a long story.
A little past the business area and sports complex is one of the largest residential areas geographically and by population in city limits.
South/Southeast of York
The Samish Strip includes a number of small to almost medium size motels/hotels as well as gas stations, a small strip mall, and a large strip mall with a large grocery store. A number of other restaurants and small businesses are located here as well. This is the southeast corner of the Sehome neighborhood, where it adjoins with both York and the more southeastern and extensive Samish neighborhood.
South/Southwest of York
The Sehome (pronounced SEE-home) Neighborhood. Aside from the parts of Sehome that merge into or border on Samish (pronounced SAM-ish), this is principally a residential neighborhood with a mix of owner-occupied residences and the largest number of student-occupied houses as well as the northern portion of the university.
West of York
City Center (part of which used be referenced as the Bellinghams Central Business District). The City Center is where nearly all the tallest buildings are located in Bellingham and Whatcom County. This includes the Bellingham Towers (although really just one tower). The Center has the largest concentration of Bellingham businesses including restaurants, small to medium retail storefronts, professional offices, banks, and more. Some buildings are multi-use including businesses on lower floors with apartments on upper floors. The City and County governments are located at the north end of this neighborhood.