Letters

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City

Affordable housing is off city agenda

As you may know by now, the Quay Apartments deal is history. The City Council did a lot of hard work on that and gave it the best chance it could have had.

It’s not their fault it failed and it’s not LATCH’s fault, either. It was a big, complicated, expensive project that didn’t come together mostly because the appraisal didn’t support the asking price.

What will be the fault of city government, and why I’m writing this letter, is that council considered a 2008 Capital Facilities Plan on May 14 from which the Quay financing has been removed.

Worse yet, there isn’t a dime in it for any kind of affordable housing. This was done at a Finance Committee meeting on May 13, essentially with no public input!

At an upcoming meeting (May 21) council will consider a CFP for 2009-2014 that does nothing for affordable housing, absolutely nothing.

(It does mention the Quay Apartments as “discretionary” for 2010, as if we are to believe the owners are planning to sit around for another few years waiting to see if someone might want to preserve the apartments for affordable housing!)

The message in these actions is clear. The administration is saying, “Sorry about the Quay, but that’s it for affordable housing on Bainbridge Island. Tennis courts, new carpet in city hall, any number of streetscape projects, these are our priorities.

Forget about affordable housing, now and forever. Working people can just commute from Kitsap Peninsula, as far as we’re concerned.”

For the city’s housing trust fund, this CFP means there won’t be any funds for a funding round this year or possibly ever. For the community, it means that there is essentially zero chance that any affordable rental housing will get built for the island’s working people.

While not everyone may agree about the importance of becoming a more diverse and welcoming community, those who can’t afford to live here include most of the essential medical, police, and firefighting personnel.

These are the people – according to our “emergency plan” – who are supposed to be ferried over to the island from the peninsula (with their families!) in the event of a natural catastrophe.

If you consider the reality of life immediately following a major earthquake, that plan alone should be an argument for creating more affordable housing on the island.

If you care about the future of this community, please talk to your council representatives. Come to council meetings and speak up. Write letters to the paper, at least! The public has a right to know about what our local government is doing – and NOT doing – with our money. The community needs to be heard on this critical issue.

If action on affordable housing is postponed for even a couple of years, it will probably be too late to do anything about it.

Every space where affordable rental housing for working people could be built will already be occupied by high-end condos and apartments, built by private developers for profit.

Bainbridge Island will have become a place where only the wealthy live, where working people must commute from elsewhere, and where we are all left vulnerable by our deliberately sought exclusivity.

JOHN deCHANDENDES

North Madison Avenue

Public schools

Thanks Bainbridge School District

Next month our second and last child will graduate from Bainbridge High School and head off, as did our first, to university. This graduation will mark the end for us, of 14 years of continuous involvement with the Bainbridge Island School District.

How common is it, in today’s mobile society, that two siblings have their entire pre-college education in one school district?

Of course, this is an emotional time for us: we rejoice our children’s successes, but at the same time we recognize that big changes lie ahead as our last child leaves home. And for our family there is another profound emotion at play – a heartfelt gratitude to this community and, most especially, to the Bainbridge Island School District, teachers and support staff, who have nurtured our children and us as parents to bring us to this proud moment.

Too many individual teachers and staff to name have played key roles along the way – you know who you are, and we extend to you our deepest thanks. Our children will remember you forever, just as we parents remember with respect and affection the educators who changed our lives. We have nothing but admiration and gratitude for all those involved in the public schools in our community. There can be few better school districts in this country. Thank you.

STEVEN AND KATHRYN HJERRILD

Grow Avenue NW

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