Letters

Posted June 2, 2020 at 8:35 am by

Response by Ron Whalen/Sponsor of San Juan Coun­ty Ini­tia­tive 2020-10

I request the fol­low­ing be post­ed to San Juan Update as a response to the let­ter post­ed by Alice Hurd on June 1st.

Not true…..Neither the ini­tia­tive or the peti­tion says any­thing about end­ing or elim­i­nat­ing the Land Bank (LB) and afford­able hous­ing. THE PROPOSED INITIATIVE WOULD NOT ENDTHE LAND BANK. That’s alto­geth­er con­nect­ed to the fact the LB and Afford­able Hous­ing have mul­ti­ple sources of fund­ing. The pro­posed ini­tia­tive speaks only to the Real Estate Excise Tax por­tion of fund­ing. The ini­tia­tive states Reduce Dura­tion of Con­ser­va­tion Area Real Estate Excise Tax (REET). The LB receives mil­lions of dol­lars in grants and dona­tions aside from REET. As recent­ly as 10 days ago the LB direc­tor announced a 5 mil­lion gift for prop­er­ty acqui­si­tion. That gift is sep­a­rate from the Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) and rep­re­sents a frac­tion of mil­lions the LB has avail­able. The afford­able hous­ing pro­gram also has oth­er sources of fund­ing aside from the Real Estate Excise Tax (REET). The fol­low­ing is tak­en from cor­re­spon­dence with the San Juan Coun­ty Coor­di­na­tor for Afford­able Hous­ing (Ryan Page);

5/26/2020 9:29 AM, Ryan Page wrote:

“Good morn­ing Ron, the Coun­ty has  mul­ti­ple dif­fer­ent fund­ing sources that fund afford­able hous­ing pro­grams in the County”.

Won­der­ing which ver­sion of the above state­ments is cor­rect? Call the Afford­able Hous­ing Coor­di­na­tor (360–370-0590 ). Email him <ryanp@sanjuanco.com>. Ask if the Afford­able Hous­ing pro­gram is entire­ly depen­dent on the Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) or if it has has mul­ti­ple sources of fund­ing. Com­pare these state­ments then ask your­self which is accurate?

All the pro­posed ini­tia­tive is ask­ing is for vot­ers to be able to vote for con­tin­u­ing or end­ing the Real Estate Tax Tax (REET) cur­rent­ly in place. Many believe the cur­rent state of the econ­o­my doesn’t sup­port the extend­ed tax­a­tion the REET rep­re­sents. How about just let­ting vot­ers speak for what they want? Does it get any more demo­c­ra­t­ic than that?

You can support the San Juan Update by doing business with our loyal advertisers, and by making a one-time contribution or a recurring donation.

5 comments...

  1. I appre­ci­ate Ron Whalen’s quick response to Alice Hur­d’s let­ter re. this lat­est ini­tia­tive, 2020-10 for which he is a spon­sor. What would be help­ful to know is who else is spon­sor­ing this. Is Whalen the only spokesper­son for it or are there oth­er peti­tion­ers that we can talk to?

    Comment by Gay Graham on June 2, 2020 at 10:39 am
  2. I would like to respond to Mr. Whelan’s reply. Fund­ing from the REET is the fund­ing source upon which the Land Bank has been cre­at­ed. It has always been the major source of income to sup­port the Land Bank. Over the years there have been some pri­vate con­tri­bu­tions to the Land Bank as well as some grants des­ig­nat­ed to a par­tic­u­lar pur­pose, but they have rep­re­sent­ed a very small por­tion of the Land Bank sup­port. The recent $5.M dona­tion Mr. Whe­lan speaks of is excep­tion­al in Land Bank his­to­ry. It is promised to pur­chase a spe­cif­ic prop­er­ty on the mar­ket that the Land Bank would not have been able to afford at this time, if ever. That dona­tion is as unusu­al as it is gen­er­ous. There is no doubt that with­out con­tin­u­ing sup­port from the REET, the Land Bank would be unable to stay in oper­a­tion in its cur­rent form.

    Afford­able hous­ing (like con­ser­va­tion) is a long­stand­ing con­cern in the islands, and it has been addressed in many ways. There are non­prof­its address­ing com­mu­ni­ty needs on San Juan, Lopez and Orcas Islands. One of the numer­ous ways the com­mu­ni­ty has addressed afford­able hous­ing is the most recent coun­ty­wide vote that approved a .05% REET (one-half per­cent) to ben­e­fit afford­able hous­ing pro­grams. That is one part of the effort, and. los­ing it would be a very sig­nif­i­cant loss to those efforts.

    Comment by alice hurd on June 2, 2020 at 12:01 pm
  3. Yes, afford­able hous­ing devel­op­ment requires cob­bling togeth­er mul­ti­ple fund­ing sources. The afford­able hous­ing REET (the Home Fund) was approved by vot­ers in 2018. In its first year, over one mil­lion in grant fund­ing was dis­trib­uted to local afford­able hous­ing projects. This pro­gram has just begun to ben­e­fit our com­mu­ni­ty and to end it after one year would be wrong. 

    Also, it is wrong to say that the REET for the Land Bank is not its sin­gle most impor­tant fund­ing source. End­ing this fund­ing source would be an unfor­tu­nate loss of future oppor­tu­ni­ties for San Juan Coun­ty citizens.

    Comment by Nancy DeVaux on June 2, 2020 at 5:33 pm
  4. It is very dif­fi­cult to under­stand just who besides Ron Whalen is pro­mot­ing Ini­tia­tive 2020-10 to try to sun­set the REET by bal­lot that has been the pri­ma­ry fund source for the Land Bank since its inception.

    Actu­al­ly that is not very impor­tant for I am sure the core group includes the usu­al sus­pects who have been clam­or­ing to dump the Land Bank and to defeat the Afford­able Hous­ing REET. I do not sup­port all tax­es but weigh each based upon the demon­stra­ble needs of our com­mu­ni­ty. (I vocal­ly opposed the first two levy increas­es for the EMS because of obvi­ous fuzzy think­ing and a lack of trans­paren­cy, but rec­og­nized the essen­tial need for the service).
    Ron Whalen et al alter their decon­struc­tion argu­ments based upon what they think will fly. Pret­ty fuzzy most­ly. No sur­pris­es here. Rea­gan conservative/libertarian Ayne Ran­dish­ness; indi­vid­ual free­dom from con­straints is far more impor­tant than the pub­lic good in a cap­i­tal­ist economy.
    The sim­ple truth is, as oth­ers have point­ed out, the Land Bank rev­enue to cre­ate pub­lic con­ser­va­tion lands for­ev­er and the Afford­able Hous­ing Fund only exist because of the REET that is of min­i­mal neg­a­tive impact to indi­vid­ual buy­ers but max­i­mum ben­e­fi­cial impact for com­mu­ni­ty. The rea­son that gen­er­ous pri­vate donors give and that addi­tion­al govt grants are avail­able is pre­cise­ly because the pro­grams exist, are effec­tive and are build­ing a bet­ter com­mu­ni­ty future every day for the major­i­ty of us who are not wealthy.
    At some point both pro­grams will need to sun­set but we are nowhere near that date as yet.
    Ron Whalen et al speak of tak­ing impor­tant acreage off the Coun­ty tax roles which is most­ly blar­ney as the larg­er parcels were near­ly all in very low tax sta­tus (ag and forestry) before pur­chase. Now the LB locks those lands open to all of us and the Hous­ing Fund pro­vides ade­quate hous­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for the fam­i­lies who work hard here to make our entire econ­o­my tick.

    Good dis­cus­sion!

    Comment by Steve Ulvi on June 3, 2020 at 12:01 pm
  5. My hus­band & I walk on Land Bank trails almost every day all year. We’ve noticed dur­ing the lock­down that a lot more peo­ple are appre­ci­at­ing them now too. Land Bank is vital to the health of our community.

    Comment by Robin Blair on June 4, 2020 at 11:49 am

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By submitting a comment you grant the San Juan Update a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate, irrelevant and contentious comments may not be published at an admin's discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only, it will never be shared.

Receive new post updates: Entries (RSS)
Receive followup comments updates: RSS 2.0