What affordable housing action?
If the citizens of this island really want to address the issue of affordable housing to support our quality of life, we need to get serious about it. I came here to live 10 years ago, and this subject was being “discussed” then. Unfortunately, it is still just being discussed, and not really being addressed by our city government. The result has been that we get offers to purchase existing facilities. What we need is a plan to build our own needed housing on donated land, or that we purchase – or a combination thereof – and create what we need. I see this as a process problem.
Our city administration hasn’t really made affordable housing a priority. It is listed as one of “our eight strategic goals” on page 1-1 of the mayor’s new 2008 Budget, stated as “Diversity: Promote a diversity of housing options.” It’s also amplified on page 1-6 as to “Focus the community’s support of affordable housing by creating a housing program within the city’s Department of Planning and Community Development, and to pass legislation to encourage the development of affordable housing.” That means the function is to respond to outside forces with a three-quarter FTE – not to take the bull by the horns and be pro-active in getting such units made available to address the biggest economic infrastructure problem we have.
It is time for the administration to show some real leadership and call a spade a spade by acknowledging the need to have at least a full-time FTE devoted to this need and to be pro-active regarding an affordable housing generation while we still have a chance to do so, not just being a responder to outside forces. We talked about this subject during the Winslow Tomorrow Congress, but that’s all we did – talk. The window is closing on our ability to properly address this need. So, everyone in City Hall should decide what they want their legacy to be: “I helped Bainbridge get its needed affordable housing”; or, “I was part of the ostrich flock with our heads in the sand and we missed the boat.” So, let’s all be agents of change regarding affordable housing before it is too late to make a permanent difference in the quality of life for us all on Bainbridge Island in the next decade – and beyond.
Flower baskets go away… what’s next?
Kudos to the Bainbridge City Council! You’ve finally made me angry enough to write my first-ever letter to the editor. What prompted this?
Imagine my shock and disappointment when I phoned City Hall to inquire about the hanging flower baskets that usually appear on Memorial Day weekend, only to be informed that they had been “cut” from the budget by the City Council.
I have been a resident of Bainbridge Island for 10 years and I have always felt privileged to live here. I love not only the natural beauty but also the little benefits and bonuses that enhance my sense of well-being. One of these is the hanging flower baskets that come into bloom along Winslow Way every summer. They add seasonal beauty to our downtown area that we, as residents, can all enjoy during the months of summer.
With all the money routinely wasted by the council on expensive consultants and studies that are rarely implemented – this budget “cut” is a very bitter pill to swallow. What’s to be “cut” next? The Fourth of July parade? Christmas decorations along Winslow Way?
While a good rant can be very cathartic, it isn’t very constructive. Therefore, I’ve decided to initiate my own plan of action.
First: I’ve just purchased two beautiful hanging geraniums to put in front of my office on Wallace Way. Second: I’m gathering a large bouquet of skunk cabbage to send to the City Council.
City needs an escape plan
After reading the mayor’s editorial it is easy to see how the city has gotten into its current financial mess. The mayor confuses sound financial management with filing a report with the state once a year.
The Quay Apartments saga is a good example of what is wrong with the city. With the best of intentions and only a “hope and a prayer” for financial abilities, the city moved forward with no chance to meet its obligations.
The city did not know if it could afford the initial purchase price, had no idea as to the magnitude of deferred maintenance for an aging building, no idea of the cost to bring the building up to current city codes, no analysis of future cash flows, and no cost-benefit analysis to determine if this was the best use of taxpayer funds in providing affordable housing.
The city can create its own destiny with a thoughtful, long-range strategic plan tied into its budget and coupled with constant monitoring of its current financial position. Until they do that, they will continue to lurch from one lost opportunity to the next.
My hope is that council members Knobloch, Vancil and Brackett will continue their financial common sense at the city and maybe one of the other council members will cease their reckless behavior and follow their statutory responsibilities as an elected official.
State Route 305
Hang on to the land we can call our own
In a couple of recent letters to the community, former City Council member Bob Scales has argued that the city should sell “surplus” property to help alleviate some of the current financial pressure on the city. The Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park and Recreation District has gone on record with the city that we believe it to be extremely short sighted on the part of the city to sell any property.
As an island community with a finite land base, we do not know now when any particular property might be needed to be developed for such public purposes as affordable housing, parks, community cultural or recreation facilities, or for any other community benefit.
While the potential benefits may not be apparent now, as the island continues to grow and develop the demand for public use or development of public property will become apparent.
We know it is a tough decision to make, but we believe that keeping surplus properties in public ownership will provide the community with options that would otherwise be foregone by their sale. If nothing else, the properties provide additional open space on the island for the near term and possibly longer if any of the properties are formally dedicated as park or open space. This benefits us all.
Board of Commissioners, Position 5
Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park and Recreation District