Plan was open for comment
Some folks are upset about a proposed multifamily building at 18th and O, complaining that “the city allowed this huge building to sneak in without public notice.”
That is simply not true. The new zoning code development was an open public process with numerous opportunities to become involved in 2017-2019 including:
• Stakeholder interviews, community open houses and online surveys
• Three complete code drafts published for public review
• Written comments accepted throughout the process
• 18 public Planning Commission review meetings
• 10 City Council meetings
Very few citizens attended these meeting or submitted written comments on the drafts of the code, but it was not a secretive process.
R4 has been a high-density multifamily zone for 40 years, with few changes. Building more multifamily housing in R4 zones will allow more residents to live near schools and city services. Adding one more story if a builder provides small units, or larger “affordable” units could help meet some important housing needs, allowing more workers to live in town. But most buildings won’t be that tall.
Many folks who grew up here think there has already been too much change and wish some of us “newcomers” would go away. Others want some growth, which adds to the vitality of our town – but not too much. What is the right balance?
We can’t shut the door to control how many people move to Anacortes. If there’s a recession, we’d get only a few, or a new business could move to town bringing many more.
Long-time residents, builders, seniors looking for a condo to downsize, someone needing affordable housing, families needing larger houses or apartments – all have different needs and priorities. It’s a delicate balancing act to provide housing for all.
Builders are not the enemy. We live and work in structures built by someone who makes her or his living by constructing buildings. Nor are city planners the enemy. They work hard to craft regulations that balance the needs of a diverse group of citizens and businesses.
No regulations are perfect. They have unanticipated consequences, both positive and negative. As new codes are implemented, some may need to be fine-tuned through a public process. I encourage you to be actively involved in crafting future code changes to make Anacortes an even better place to live and work.
A loss for Anacortes
I was disappointed to read in the Anacortes American last week of the likely sale of Tommy Thompson’s steam train.
For me, the train embodies the creative can-do attitude and imagination of Anacortes’ great characters. In our town, a person can build a magical train and share it with the community. This is uncommon and sets us apart.
This spirit of invention and whimsy is expressed in the likes of Bill Mitchell and his murals and all the other artists, innovators and craftspeople who have shared their ideas and energy with a community that celebrates and supports their efforts. We are blessed with such a creation as a narrow gauge steam train built from scratch by an amazing community member.
When I read it was to become someone’s backyard toy train in California, it made me pause. I would caution exporting our treasures even if we lack vision and imagination as to what we do with them at this moment.
Once the Tommy Thompson train is gone, it’s not coming back. With it goes some of the town’s whimsy and magic, as well.
No doubt navigating the complexities of operating a working steam train in town may seem insurmountable, but we should still slow down what seems like an unstoppable sale and consider what we stand to lose. If the sale goes through, we must all learn to let go. But it’ll be a sad day to see that embodiment of the Anacortes spirit depart.
Don’t protect hate speech
The inclusion resolution approved by the Anacortes City Council should have been approved unanimously. I was disappointed to read that Councilman Matt Miller voted against it, citing our Constitution.
Hate speech is not protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment because it is threatening and provokes violence. Our Constitution does not condone leaving a noose in a tree on Cap Sante and displaying a Nazi swastika during Shipwreck Days.
All Americans should remember our Constitution’s inclusive spirit.