No to REET| Letters

We all agree that finding “affordable housing” in San Juan County is difficult. Living in these islands has always come at a high cost. When it comes to housing there are several factors that have added to this challenging problem.

A major factor in the loss of affordable housing is due to the lack of affordable rental units. One cause is the transformation of affordable rental space into VRBOs; after all, renting by the night or week is much more profitable. This is in part caused by subsidized housing itself. Subsidized housing takes away more than the best reasons to own instead of rent property; building equity and the increased value of your private ownership home.

But these subsidized houses have caused a far greater problem: a lack of capital investment in our community. The need for more rental property should be covered by private investment and building of rental units. Government housing has failed miserably all over our country and the world for that matter. From the ghettos of the east coast to the “commie blocks” of Eastern Europe. Government housing creates no increase in personal equity or value increase. In fact, in most cases traps the very people they are designed to help.

Additionally, the land bank and land trust consumes large amounts of land and not only takes these lands off the tax roll but limits the amount of free-market land available. An additional cause to the high cost of housing is that to obtain funding for the land bank a 1 percent surcharge (tax) is assessed to every private land transaction; creating a double whammy! Yes I know — we all love the open land that has been set aside. However, these beautiful open areas could have been preserved by proper zoning in the first place. How is initiating an additional real estate excise tax at 0.5 percent going to “lower” housing costs or encourage developers to create affordable rental units? This seems nuts to me, and I hope everyone will join me in voting no for this ridiculous proposal.

Proposition 1: Affordable Housing Real Estate Excise Tax — The local SJC initiative for “Affordable Housing” by making housing less affordable by tacking on a 0.5 percent excise tax on all real estate transactions. It gets worse, they want this increase to go on for 12 years.

Cal Bucholz

San Juan Island