Opinion

'Friday Harbor residents should not be further burdened with more infrastructure costs associated with annexation' | Ron Warden

Dear Town of Friday Harbor,

It is interesting to read the various letters, editorials, pro and con, concerning the annexation of the Buck property, as well as the expenses associated with same.

Having been a developer, and currently an owner of rental property in the city limits, I am personally tired of having no choice but to raise rents on the residents of our building due to the ongoing spending by the Town of Friday Harbor. I have lost only one tenant in 10 years to low-cost housing.

However, I will concede the millions of dollars being spent to update an antiquated infrastructure system is needed to service the existing properties contained within the city's urban growth boundary lines. The reality is, the current costs of updating the infrastructure contained within, are breaking the backs of our residents and small businesses inside the Town of Friday Harbor.

The people of Friday Harbor should not be further burdened with more infrastructure costs associated with annexation and development. As we all know, NOTHING IS FREE!

In the real world, the developer bears all development costs. If all the hard costs are factored into the San Juan Community Home Trust proposed development, the houses would not be affordable, even at current subsidized levels. Successful development builds from the core outward. The Town of Friday Harbor only needs to look to the private sector, such as Roche Harbor. The plan to build from the core outward is essential to control infrastructure and development costs. When core density is reached, only then does expansion occur. Common business sense.

With only 45 to 50 percent of density achieved in the Town of Friday Harbor over the last 100 years, annexation of new property is not reasonable due to all costs associated with the proposed development, including long-term maintenance costs.

Have all the proposed, completed improvements and modifications to the city's existing sewage treatment plant, storm drains, water distribution lines, and raising of the dam taken into consideration the 300+ residential lots that will be created through annexation?

Will the streets of Friday Harbor be torn up again?

The acquisition of current property inventory contained within the city limits by the San Juan Community Home Trust would have a beneficial effect to the existing residents and future residents of the Town of Friday Harbor. The infrastructure and available land are currently in place. The capitalization of this project would have less of a financial impact on the residents of Friday Harbor than the current proposal to annex more land.

Finally, in the interest of accuracy of content, it is public record that Mr. Mayes' apartment buildings have been listed for sale in the last six months. Ms. Pigman's statement, “Maybe he fears losing tenants for his rental units,” is not relative, and how is the number of purported properties that Mr. Mayes owns outside the city limits relevant?

The subdivision currently under construction by Mr. Mayes is aimed at unsubsidized, affordable housing for islanders. His homes will sell for $190,000 plus under the current median price ($492,500) home in San Juan County. This appears to be very reasonable considering there are no public or private subsidies involved, and Mr. Mayes is willing to finance qualified individuals who purchase his homes. No banks involved.

The real issues are not how much property Mr. Mayes purportedly owns inside or outside the city. The real issue is, how much is the annexation of free land going to cost the residents of Friday Harbor? Annexation does not make sense. I hope the Town of Friday Harbor seriously considers its actions. Unfortunately, the word I hear on the street, talking to locals and local businesses, is that the deal is already done. I sincerely hope not.

Regards,

Ron Warden
Cape San Juan

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