Vote yes on affordable housing

On Feb. 11, Anacortes voters have a momentous opportunity. Your “yes” vote on the Affordable Housing Sales Tax Measure will bring more funds for affordable housing to the Anacortes community. Voters are being asked to approve an increased local sales tax of one-tenth of 1%, which comes out to just one additional cent on a $10 purchase.

This new measure would return state sales tax revenue to the city. The result would be an additional $653,000 annually for affordable housing in Anacortes per Steve Hoglund, Anacortes City Finance Director (Oct. 30, 2019, Skagit Valley Herald). The state Legislature is offering this voter option to encourage local government investments in affordable resident housing.

Housing is considered “unaffordable” when cost exceeds 30% of monthly personal income (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development). 

A third of Anacortes households spend more than 30% of their income on housing, per the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (2019). This clearly demonstrates the need for more affordable, workforce housing in our community.

Affordable, decent housing helps families to thrive and stay together. Secure housing helps kids to sleep at night and concentrate at school. A stable address helps teens to stay in school and grow into independent adults. Help our neighbors and make Anacortes a stronger and more caring community through your support of the Affordable Housing Sales Tax Measure.

Megan G. Taylor

Anacortes

 

Housing tax will make a difference

The housing vacancy rate of all of Skagit County is .9%. There are years-long waiting lists for low income and/or affordable housing, including in Anacortes.

Our restaurant and hospital workers, caregivers, many seniors, veterans, young people, disabled individuals are being priced out of the Anacortes housing market. 

Affected families with children in school here do not want their children to be displaced.

The City of Anacortes has a one-time opportunity to increase our workforce housing. The City Council recently approved a resolution allowing us to retain .0073% of the sales tax already being sent to Olympia.

If voters approve an additional 0.1% increase in sales tax, we can double this amount to .014%.

The “Yes 4 Housing” campaign is gearing up to educate you about the housing opportunities a yes vote on a Special Election ballot on Feb. 11, will provide, along with the very small cost to your household (one penny of sales tax on a $10 taxable purchase).

Three shovel-ready projects in town (with land already owned outright) will be able to move forward to provide affordable workforce housing units to our neighbors should this tax be approved. The projects include a new 20-unit apartment building with the ground floor to provide child care for about 35 children (sorely needed by working parents); five new townhouses at 18th Street and O Avenue; and the renovation of the historic Olson Building, retaining the ground floor businesses and providing 20 new units on a second floor.

I am a proponent of this one-time effort to bring additional sales tax dollars back to Anacortes in an effort to provide our income-eligible working residents with additional housing and child care options. 

Please talk to your neighbors about housing solutions. I think you will find several who need more secure housing and will agree that this is a no-brainer.

Contact the Anacortes Housing Authority or Anacortes Family Center and ask how you can help to make this effort successful for the benefit of our neighbors in need.

Maureen Mullen

Anacortes

 

Town needs affordable housing

In Anacortes, we have neighbors who sleep under tables in Washington Park, in their cars or on a friend’s couch to escape domestic violence. There are many reasons for homelessness.

One of the major causes in Anacortes is a lack of affordable housing units. Affordable means that one pays less than 1/3 of their income on housing.

We began to increase the number of affordable units of Nov. 25 with the opening of the new, four-story building at the Anacortes Family Center. By voting yes on the .1% tax on Feb. 11, we can add approximately 50 new units to the supply.

This is a one-time offer from the state. The city currently receives $41,655 a year for housing from the state. If we pass the tax the city would receive about $653,934 in funding for affordable housing programs.

There are three projects that are ready to go: a four-story building at the Anacortes Family Center, which will have child care on the ground floor and three upper floors with 20 units; a five-unit town home project on O Avenue and 19th Street, and renovation of the historic Olson building with ground floor commercial use and second and third floor apartments.

By passing this measure, we can make Anacortes more wonderful than it already is.

Please vote yes with me on this ballot measure.

Susan Guterbock

Anacortes

 

Forest lands

a bad fit for

bike park

This morning I walked in the Community Forestlands with my old dog to the old city dump, as we routinely do. Some of you know that I am opposed to the proposed construction of a mountain bike park here in the ACFL.

Returning on trail 114, I saw the coyote – medium-sized and seemingly healthy. When he noticed us, he left the trail and jogged around to our left. 

I wasn’t very surprised. Coyotes live here, and I was glad to spot him. I expected him to continue on his way. Instead, he stopped in the brush, just 20 feet away, and stared, as I stared back. I lifted my arm and spoke to encourage him to move on. He didn’t flinch. Carefully, I picked up a branch, waved it over my head and took a step in his direction, now shouting at him. 

To my surprise, he maintained eye contact and simply continued sizing us up. Now I was surprised and concerned. My old dog was quiet, as he always is, which may have made him appear vulnerable, despite his equivalent size.

I slowly backed away, stick at the ready, and continued toward the street. At the street, we saw a herd of deer that had just crossed A Avenue into the church parking lot. 

I assume that Mr. Coyote had failed to catch any deer for breakfast. I also assume that the rest of his pack was close by.

The forest lands are wild, even near the perimeter. Some people believe that the old city dump should be “mined” as a new park as the city grows. 

Perhaps it could be some kind of park for quiet enjoyment of the forest. But to consider it as a potential play area for small children riding bikes is a poor idea for the community as well as for the forest.

Build childrens’ parks in open areas where they can be monitored and where predators don’t routinely hunt. As the current Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan draft points out, a “pump track” for biking skills could still be added to Storvik Park. Although the Fidalgo Trail Riders deem it “too far,” the city’s land adjoining the ACFL at Sharpes Corner would still be an excellent location for an adult mountain bike park.

Stacey Curtis

Anacortes

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