How do we retain our quality of life and protect the rural environment we all love and still ensure that everyone has a place to live and a place to work and a way to get back and forth? How do we wisely balance those often competing needs?
Two Guiding Principles of the County are:
- “Provide for the long term health and safety of the people, the economy and our natural resources”
- “Maintain agricultural & recreational opportunities while strengthening our economic vitality.”
We must be clear about what those principles actually mean.
I believe we need to strengthen those statements to make it clear that it is our rural character and natural resources that create the recreational opportunities we and our visitors enjoy, and any economic growth we encourage must align with protection of that rural and natural environment.
I fully support the approach the Island County Planning Department and Planning Commission is taking with regards to updating the housing element of our comprehensive plan, and I will take whatever action possible to both maintain and enhance the effort. This approach focuses on small housing initiatives: encouraging homeowners to build accessory dwelling units—both attached and detached--that they can rent out; permitting the creation of small boarding houses; simplifying the regulations on duplexes, triplexes and 4-plexes. It also focuses on the importance of protecting existing trees and nature.
I do not support the development of new large neighborhoods.
Any economic growth we encourage must also align with our mission to protect our rural character. This means very selective zoning. I believe the best way we can protect our rural character while encouraging economic growth in Island County is to establish ourselves as a hub for telework. In order for that to be successful, we need better phone and internet access throughout the county, starting with broadband.