Support the REET initiative | Letters

What are the reasons to vote against the REET?

• REET will only benefit community land trusts.

Probably true but who else can collect the necessary finances to build affordable rental housing? This is a function of the enabling legislation, RCW 82.46.075.

• REET does not support rental assistance.

Correct. That is not an allowable activity under the enabling state legislation.

• REET requires developers pay prevailing (union) wage rates.

Right, but it is part of the package before us presently. It is no reason to not approve.

• REET requires endless red tape to apply.

That is right but public money must be spent carefully or they will probably be misspent. It is an unavoidable cost of public subsidies.

• REET development proposals must meet Evergreen Sustainability Standards, adding cost.

Right again, but that is little more than is present energy efficiency required for any building permit. It is not a material issue.

• REET will not benefit Homes for Islanders.

Right, but another non-issue. HFI builds only single-family ownership homes, not rentals, the primary goal of the REET. HFI does not need additional funding as they use homeowner labor.

• Before taxing us, the county should reduce permit and utility fees.

Reducing permit fees simply tosses the cost of permitting and inspections onto the property taxpayers. Asking independent town utility associations to pay for the county responsibilities is similarly just passing the buck. The cost of affordable housing is a county responsibility, not simply the residents of Friday Harbor or Eastsound.

• Affordable housing is not a public responsibility.

What is our responsibility as a community for affordable housing in San Juan County? Are we the generous, welcoming community we like to imagine or is this an “I’ve got mine, pull up the ladder” community? Growth Management, RCW 36.70A.070.2 (d) requires local communities to “make adequate provision for existing and projected needs of all economic segments of the community.” Now is the opportunity to DO something. It is a very modest proposal that should be approved.

John M. Campbell