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Kurt Batdorf, Editor
Published: Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bothell mayor: Environment, growth can co-exist

Mark Lamb is not your usual mayor. He’s young even by most standards. At age 35, he is one of the youngest mayors of any Puget Sound city. He was just comfortably re-elected. Lamb showed his leadership during Bothell’s last budget by cutting taxes, prioritizing capital investments and doubling the city’s reserves. That fiscally conservative budget gained statewide attention and earned the city a 2007 Governor’s Smart Communities Award.

His colleagues hold him in high regard. Former Bothell Police Chief and current State Rep. Mark Ericks (D-Bothell) said, “I have worked in local, county and state government most of my life. It has been a privilege to work with Mayor Mark Lamb on issues affecting our city. He is a very effective and dedicated elected city official who works hard for the people of our community.”

While many mayors are busy, Mayor Lamb holds two jobs. He’s a practicing lawyer with the North Creek Law Firm when he isn’t running the city. In many ways, he represents a new breed of Republicans in the Dino Rossi mold who were born and bred on Northwest values that include supporting a strong economy, growing good jobs and stewardship of the environment.

Green buildings are part of Mayor Lamb’s plan.

“Our nation and our city are addicted to nonrenewable energy resources that pollute our environment and make us dependent on unstable areas of the world that do not share our values and are hostile to our way of life” says Lamb. “If we enact public policy to reduce our reliance on foreign energy, then we’re being patriotic while protecting the environment.”

In addition to buying hybrid vehicles for the city’s fleet, Lamb and his City Council are considering some creative strategies and rules that would have the effect of allowing a builder to build a bit more structure on a building site in exchange for energy efficiencies in the finished product. Other cities may soon follow Bothell’s lead.

“I’m all for preservation of large, high-quality wetlands,” says Lamb. “But if we preserve a batch of cattails on every site, that usually forces a trade-off of making the building site smaller. Have we really preserved the environment or reduced our reliance on foreign energy when we do this? We’d rather give back some building space to the community through the developer and see a more energy-efficient, ‘green’ building and less sprawl.”

Bothell is home to the University of Washington, Bothell, campus and Cascadia Community College, which are expecting a large bump up in enrollment as a new interchange off Highway 522 makes access much easier. The city’s biotech and medical device employment base is well known. It has plans to build a business district town center on the former Northshore School District Administration site. Bothell, in many ways, is a city on the cusp of change.

But Lamb wants to make sure it’s the right kind of change.

“Bothell is a city of contrasts. We’re still about our Main Street and Friday-night high school football while we’re also about big biotech companies and environmental stewardship,” he suggests with a hint of pride. “I’m actually crazy enough to think you can create jobs, cut taxes, be friendly and inviting to business and families, and take care of the environment all at the same time. The notion that these things oppose each other is one I simply don’t accept.”

Indeed. Lamb, like many young civic leaders of today, was bred on a healthy balance of growth and environmental stewardship.

“The idea that growth advocates and environmental stewardship aren’t compatible is one that my political hero Senator Scoop Jackson rejected as emphatically as I do. He said it best, ‘I say we must have both — a clean environment and a healthy economy.’ Hopefully, we can show how the two work hand in hand right here in Bothell,” Lamb said.

Tom Hoban is CEO of Coast Real Estate Services, a commercial sales, leasing, investment and property management company with offices in Everett, Tacoma, Spokane and Boise, Idaho. He can be reached at 425-339-3638 or send e-mail to

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