August 28, 2018
Meeting was called to order by Matthew Rainwater at 7:30am.
Kevin H moved to accept August 21st meeting minutes, seconded by Jack G. Motion passed.
Program: Director of Community Development Candidates
Incumbent Mary Ellen Winborn (MEW) stated it’s all about what she’s done and can do for you. Since 1992 she has been helping the county realize its dreams and has kept her word as DCD. She has worked on both sides of the counter, as building official, fire marshall, etc., all at the same time. Now questions are better answered and permitting occurs within 2 weeks and they employ a hydro-geologist to help with water issues. They also have a code enforcement team and have established a marijuana ordinance while protecting rural residential neighborhoods.
Julie Gardiner (JG) has seen an impact on zoning and land use. She has lived here for 32 years observing how issues are handled. She sees a higher level of consistency needed. She has a Masters in planning and has spent 10 years providing land use advice in a law firm. There should be balance between development and quality of life. Land development is essential with less regulation and better enforcement. The county has taken an adversarial posture and the current system is unable to process environmentally sensitive projects. Building is only one element, Atterbury Estates took 3 years to get through permitting and it needed to be done in one year.
Kai asked how candidates would balance private property rights with government regulations.
JG: Planners like to create rules and things are getting more complex and not getting ahead. There is too much regulation. Shared assets must be protected.
MEW: Flawed and limited codes and they need to listen to the development community to learn how to adjust them. They don’t have too many, but just need to learn how to make them work. Property rights should be respected.
JG: Land use planning is about law, property rights. The current enforcement program reads like a social service program. It’s a money and rights activity as DCD.
MEW: Politics involved has been a shock to her. Code enforcement is different from law enforcement and is usually a complaint issue.
George B asked about a projection of county population 10 years.
MEW: It is growing steadily with 10K in the last 20 years but doesn’t know the projection.
JG: A housing study indicated a 10% increase in 10 years, she’d vote for flat growth. The county is not having babies.
MEW: Permits are up from 400 a year to about 700 today in the county and sees the trend continuing. She continues to meet new people.
Jon F asked what their decision-making process is.
JG: uses inductive reasoning and is skilled at looking at complex situations and breaking them down. It’s about categories, facts, and science. She talks to the engineers and techs and has completed projects from conception to build out.
MEW: Takes each situation as it comes and works through scenarios, starting with the end in mind. It takes all types of reasoning and listening skills.
Richard asked how often they go to court.
MEW: They must treat everyone fairly, it’s not all about making everyone happy. A case was wrapped up by producing an ordinance, sometimes that can offset a lawsuit. She’s only had one claim since she’s been in office and can divert a lot. In her 18 years as an architect, she never had one claim.
JG: They have a Prosecuting Attorney for that. She is concerned with rights and land use. It is essential to stay out of court. Taxes are already paid for these service and they need to work with other parts of the government.
Howard S. asked how they feel about urban growth zones.
MEW: Sees a lot of opportunity, but they need infrastructure planning which is in the budget for the west side of Port Angeles. When developers and industry look at the area they will need to have it together. There is opportunity for affordable housing in Gales Addition and Carlsborg if sewer and water can be developed.
JG: The vision is the big picture and the comprehensive plan doesn’t get the attention it needs. They should work to make the west end stable and there has to be a feature in the codes that allows for a relaxation.
MEW: We need jobs and housing. That is looking at the big picture.
Steve B stated part of the county mistrusts development. How do they address gentrification?
JG: That means there is a lack of affordable housing which prices out the working class. Gentrification is not a problem if the economy is complex enough with a variety of options.
MEW: Gentrification has a bad connotation. When people clean up their homes, lift themselves up, banks will loan, and neighbors will improve properties, too. It’s not one size fits all.
JG: Code enforcement is misunderstood and has nothing to do with neighborhoods being cleaned up and raising property values.
MEW: Disagrees. Stated that is not true, it does help.
JG: A community should be diverse and gentrification is a symptom of what’s not working.
MEW: It’s the community who decides where and how to move forward. Growth management is public input.
JG: Comprehensive plan is a social values plan, not an economic plan.
Andrew M asks if we are very visionary here, or are we an outlier? Should the DCD be an elected position?
MEW: She believes it should be an appointed position, a tool of county commissioners. She works hard in that relationship.
JG: We are an outlier. The problem is we get an irregular range of skills. Building inspectors don’t have the education to oversee planners. It should be elected otherwise it wouldn’t guarantee consistency.
MEW: She’s not a building inspector but has planning background, and as an architect it gives her a broad range of knowledge.
John B asked if the county is taking proper action with the Sequim B&B?
JG: They didn’t do it right, the project is a monolith and the county got caught with no code. Not looking to the future is a chronic failure in the system. Planners are making more regulation instead of being visionary and not reactionary.
MEW: The codes are clear: hotels are prohibited in that area. When lawyers got involved it got confusing. They need more community input on 5 versus 8 rooms. it takes time.
JG: B&Bs are all about experiences / themes. The owners live there, that’s the defining feature. Tara, The Alamo, etc., would be fun concepts. If land rights were violated, it’s illegal.
MEW: We aren’t Disneyland and should keep rural, rural per the comprehensive plan. We also need to be careful when it comes to the shoreline.
Dick P. moved to extend the meeting up to 15 minutes. Andrew seconded. Motion passed.
Bill Feeley asked what each candidate thinks affordable housing is.
MEW: What the main population can afford, which is about $40k a year salary.
JG: Stick built homes averaging $125k with rentals well under $1k a month. We need not only single family housing but collective units.
MEW: It doesn’t pay for a contractor to build a house that size, that’s a problem. Gales Addition sewer addition would be economical for development but it doesn’t make sense for builders.
JG: Builders have to get plans through the county and it is increasingly hard.
Deb F. asked how the county works with the city when it comes to addressing issues like wetlands, water, sewer and the new RV ordinance.
JG: Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin has done lots of research and reality is that nice RVs are desirable living quarters. However, if they are allowed to be parked at houses, it’s a camel in the tent. The resounding public opinion was no. New types of subdivisions, septic systems, better technology, new models of living are needed.
MEW: RVs are recreational vehicles and are not permitted at the DCD. Their hydro-geologist works east of Port Angeles on storm water issues. If homes are hooked up to sewer, it mitigates that. It’s possible to share taxes with the city for bringing sewer to Gales. She wants permanent community, people are more invested when you own your own home.
JG: RVs can be very nice. She was endorsed by local Realtor Associations.
MEW: Who says they are suitable for full time living by building standards? DCD only regulates buildings.
Julie Gardiner stated in closing that a balance of development and quality of life is at the core. Less regulation and better enforcement is needed. She will work with citizens and bring a voice of reason.
Mary Ellen Winborn stated she has spent 30+ years dealing with the complexities of development and would like to continue serving, asking for our vote.
No meeting next week due to the Labor Day holiday
Meeting adjourned at 8:45am.