February 5, 2019
Meeting was called to order by Carol Johnson at 7:30am.
Jack moved to accept January 29 meeting minutes, seconded by Julie H. Motion carried.
Debbie showed an article in Realtor Magazine about the peninsula and a flyer for the 2019 Leadership Conference in March at Vern Burton.
Jim M. and Carol talked about the letter PABA would like to mail to senators and representatives regarding Dept. of Natural Resources long term conservation strategy. Samples were on the tables. Jack asked if Jim would testify and he agreed.
Sam moved to approve the letter being mailed, seconded by Andrew. Motion passed.
Program: Kevin Russell, Building Industry
Andrew announced Kevin Russell to talk about the building industry.
He said the younger generation should be more engaged. He also talked to contractors before coming and their comments were: problems of lack of employees, challenging getting materials to the peninsula, and they are seeing an influx of bad contractors and subcontractors. Sewer needs to be more affordable; it costs $12-$15K just in hookups and permits, not including physical labor to install. Septic ‘reserve’ areas mean lot sizes are shrinking. RJ said septic systems have a 20yr life span. Kevin stated city meetings are open to the public. People want to come here and open businesses but stormwater issues, etc., need to be addressed. He talked about the Growth Management Act from 1990 which is to effect fast growing densely populated counties and help them to develop a comprehensive plan. Affordability is down, homelessness is up and there is low housing inventory.
Rob asked why there aren’t duplexes, etc., being built. Kevin said they are working hard to change regulations. Insurance and stormwater costs are so high it doesn’t pencil out. The city is providing incentives but the risk to the builder is huge, and HOA boards can be personally liable.
Lindsey said duplexes are available to build in single family zones, on 2 lots. Resistance is that the public doesn’t want more duplexes because it will hurt property values, but he has not found proof of that. Kevin added the perception is multi-family housing is lower income and relates to a bad idea. He said banks are starting to loosen requirements, but each lender is different.
Rob O. said many duplexes would be owner occupied. He said to renovate costs more than building new due to asbestos and lead based paint abatement. Homeowners can do it for less cost. State energy code is also costly.
Carol asked about insulation subsidies what has the most benefit. Lindsey said the city has free insulation for low income threshold that is easy to meet, a $500 credit for heat pumps and a window credit for energy efficiency. The real savings is in insulation, but Kevin added you need air circulation. With ductless heat pumps there needs to be alternative heat in bedrooms. The material cost is $200 – $225 per sf to build new. He said we are governed by people who don’t live here. The perception is that builders want to clear cut everything, but they want to protect habitat. Kevin said let the I-5 corridor be their own state, it’s his personal opinion, but he is concerned about the extremes in legislation.
Jon asked what we can do. Kevin always says get more people involved, we need more voices. Be educated and learn all the facts, don’t only use social media and only read headlines. For the Future Builders program, students were told “you don’t need to be a builder” and the program went away. His board can’t afford to bring that program back. They don’t have the lots anymore, and it became a scholastic program instead. Habitat for Humanity is partnering with Peninsula College to have students come out, but Kevin said there is legal exposure. He wants to work with Luke on an emerging builder program to teach how to become a good business person in construction. They need to change the old curriculum and introduce insurance, L&I, etc. The number of permits issued is on the county website. There are non-licensed builders around, but he can’t tell how many.
The cost of the green home standard build is in response to the governor. Kevin provided all of the information needed to build green and now all of it is mandated. The standard now exceeds what they said would be appropriate. Now young kids can’t afford a home.
Andrew moved to extend the meeting by up to 15 minutes, second by Brando. Motion passed.
Jim M. asked what Kevin would do with a magic wand. He’d have the city deal with stormwater, the county with water, and the state with growth management.
There was discussion about sharing the risk of building and can there be a limit for the index of building cost. Kevin asked how you determine who gets those tax dollars. The tariff issue needs to be taken care of, companies took advantage of the rising prices.
Lindsey said the tax benefit for multi-family housing is state law with an 8 or 12 year property tax exemption by the city. It’s only for 4 units or more, apartments, etc.
Randy estimated $600K to build a 4-plex and commented on the rate of return. Jim H. said housing study results should be back in the next couple of months. At most they’ll have an understanding from those who responded. The survey didn’t reach as far as it needs to go per Lindsey. Sequim is getting more active with demo projects as an example for building apartments, but where does the revenue come from to do that. The college educated people that mostly fill out the survey prefer single family housing. Kevin said any group needs to have the proper amount of experts. It should have been done here by locals.
Julie H. said community banks are different from large banks and should be contacted.
RJ Wheeler said the Wilder family deserves kudos for expanding.
Feb 26: Linty Hopie, Frances Charles & Michael Peters: Development Plans for Lower Elwha Downtown Project
Meeting adjourned at 8:46am.