Letters to the Editor

Taxi service is a valued Bainbridge business | Letters | March 6

This is in response to a story (“Rolling Bay parking causes neighborhood friction,” Feb. 27) in the Review.

Bainbridge Island Taxi has been on Bainbridge since 1935. It began on Ericksen Avenue and is the only locally owned taxi company. We provide a vital service to Bainbridge. When relocating we searched hard and thoughtfully for a place zoned for business.

Contrary to what the story said, we are not leasing land. We rented 1,600-square-feet of office space to administer the company. Any business with that amount of space would require parking.

The purpose of the Neighborhood Service Center is to provide island-wide commercial and service activity outside Winslow, which is compatible with the scale, character, and intensity of the surrounding residential neighborhood. Our taxi company provides a valuable service within this description. We are compatible with the scale, character and intensity of the surrounding residential area.

Our business actually minimizes traffic impact. Our trips are less compared to any business that would depend on a steady flow of customers to operate and are primarily outside of peak business hours.

We are a vital economic asset to the community. We employ 15 drivers, most of whom have families on Bainbridge. We transport non-emergency medical patients and serve disabled wheelchair patients as well as ferry riders.

Our carbon footprint is smaller than most businesses in our carpooling practice. During the December snow our call center handled over 3,000 requests from Islanders in a one-week period.

We service Bainbridge Island and our immediate neighborhood. We transport from Messenger House, customers of Rolling Bay Automotive and clients of the city’s Municipal Court. Just yesterday we picked up at Bay Hay and Feed.

The space we rent was vacant for years and was a mess. We completely transformed the space, put in Que’ Sarah Boutique in part of it and have immensely improved the vitality of Rolling Bay center.

Tim and I are real estate agents on Bainbridge Island, where property values island-wide are down 15 to 20 percent since 2006. This is the same for all neighborhoods, and to blame our business for bringing down property values is ludicrous and discriminatory.

At the first community meeting a citizen said, “Take your #*@ cabs to Suquamish.” Another citizen said she saw our drivers in the parking lot and didn’t “want their kind in her neighborhood.” We are appalled at this attitude. Actually, according to the county assessor, Mr. Hong (owner of the Jiffy Mart building) had his property value increase 29 percent in one year.

The city has ruled in our favor numerous times and yet this neighborhood group continues to fight to kick us out.

In summary, we want to keep peace in the neighborhood. We have attended two community meetings and personally met with Jim Kennedy twice to discuss how to enhance the aesthetics of the parking area. The city has asked us to screen with trees and shrubbery, and we would like to plant flowers and improve the overall look.

We have put a lot of time and effort into finding commercial space, improving it and now a considerable expense in legal fees to fight for our right to remain on Bainbridge Island. We welcome any support Friday, March 13 at City Hall at 9 a.m. in front of the hearing examiner.

Many thanks to our thousands of Bainbridge Island customers for your continued support.

Tim and Jana Wilkins

Bainbridge Island Taxi LLC

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