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Monday, April 03, 2006

Vashon Island's Affordability Future

A group of developers and community leaders got together last week in Vashon Island to peer into their crystal balls and predict that area's future...

Developer and Vashon Island Chamber of Commerce president Tom Bangasser said at last week's Vashon Maury Island Community Council meeting, "People who buy property (on Vashon) to develop it because they can are going to drive the population."

He was speaking about his interest in analyzing the population capacity of the current Vashon zoning plan.

The comment came in the context of a presentation Bangasser made to VMICC about 45 benchmarks created by King County to trace progress in meeting desired outcomes for the county of the Growth Management Act (GMA) of 1990.
Realtor Emma Amiad, asked to speak about benchmark #21, "Supply and demand for affordable housing," said, listing eight quick points:
  • Supply and demand for affordable housing: lots of demand, no supply.
  • Homelessness: persisting.
  • Apartment vacancy rate: virtually zero.
  • Affordability gap: huge.
  • Home ownership rate: + -80 percent.
  • Trends of costs: up.
  • Public dollars spent: almost none other than Vashon Household.
  • Rental housing units affordable to low income: almost none.
Then, in a satirical turn, she moved from that relatively bleak vision as she told a short fable about Vashon in 2016, in which Dockton became a condo paradise because Vashon town's growth was limited by the lack of water availability.

Also in the fable was a tour, "McMansion Tour," also called "Starter Castle Showdown," conducted by the Chamber to contribute to its income stream, and open only to houses of 10,000 square feet in space.

She also envisioned Burton and Vashon becoming upscale meccas for regional shoppers and tourists, and she included a new bus service to bring the Island's work force into town from Tacoma and Southworth.

By contrast, Amiad offered a second fable, one in which small family businesses thrived and affordable cottage home developments as well as accessory dwelling units were in evidence.

And part of the vision was that all the structures were built "green" and capped at 5,000 square feet for a new or remodeled house.

And finally, power would be generated by wind, solar and wave action with Vashon's power system a model for other Washington rural towns.
I guess I'm just ignorant, because I don't really see how "green" building and wind power are going to keep housing costs under control. Sure, they're both noble goals that are great to strive for, but what do they have to do with the price of homes? The only connections I can imagine would seem to put upward pressure on home prices. But hey, whatever floats your boat, Vashonites.

(Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber, 03.29.2006)

1 comment:

JC Taylor said...

Just a short note --

The idea of the island being energy self-sufficient and 'green', as it were, is actually a fairly attractive one as far as home prices go. There's a lot of press and attention being paid to a probable near-term energy crunch that's going to make things rather uncomfortable for people who have a long commute (ie, lots of money going into the gas tank) or for communities struggling to keep their towns from brownouts.

A community that was walkable, 'green' in housing (ie, the homes are built to a higher conservation standard and use less energy and water), and provided its own renewable energy? Heck. I'd want to live there. :) And to a point, it'd be economically viable for me to do so, compared to living in a McMansion in Puyallup.