Ultimately, my vision for Oak Harbor is
A common sense, all encompassing, 5 to 15 year plan to include:
We need a plan for our community such as this needs to meet the approval of the city government, needs to be supported by the community in its entirety and implemented in phases which may take upwards of 20 years. This vision is necessary to sustain and enhance our well being as a community for us and future generations. Without a plan, I fear we will continue our downward spiral in loss of financial value, goods and services. The time has come to make a positive change!
I speak for the Taxpayers of Oak Harbor, the people who live here, contribute to this community and want to realize all the potential this community has to offer. We have people who love being here as we are, and we have people who want to help us develop to our extraordinary potential. My goals are to help align what we have with what we CAN have and to make that transition with sensitivity and common sense.
We are blessed to exist in a beautiful location, in a beautiful nation. We are protected by the imminent presence of our military guardians. NAS Whidbey makes up a large part of our community, and I fully support them. We have an idyllic lifestyle, different from the hectic activity of the mainland. We want to protect that lifestyle yet develop it so we can accommodate ALL the military who want to live here and ALL the economic prosperity that can benefit our residents.
I am a jewelry retailer. I deal with gems. Gems have many faces – called facets - each with different angles. My multi-faceted approach addresses all the different angles with which we need to approach a plan, to develop the gem that is Oak Harbor.
We have fantastic Police and Fire Departments who are committed to keeping Oak Harbor safe and clean. We need to assist them in multiple areas:
· Transiency: Unfortunately, we have a large transient population who can cause a clear safety concern for our population. The Police Department does an admirable job of maintaining law and order, while looking out for those people who promote drugs, or who are peddlers and dealers. It is always a fluid situation; always a constant battle.
· Litter: The litter and drug paraphernalia related to our transient population is both a safety AND a health concern. I would like to look into starting a campaign to RAISE AWARENESS among our business community to assist our local officials in litter control and disease prevention by committing to maintaining their business locations. I would like to enlist the Chamber of Commerce to include regular reminders of our civic pride and encouragement for all businesses to do their part in making and keeping Oak Harbor safe and clean. I would also like to raise awareness in the community in all age groups through a possible campaign called “Be a Litter Quitter!” I would like to encourage students to submit ideas to help make and keep Oak Harbor clean and commit to civic duty to assist in safe activities to do their part. I’d like to see our local students engage in an educational program on “How to be a Litter Quitter.” I would encourage Seniors to participate in local clean-up efforts and campaigns through several community interest events an volunteer groups during the year.
· Revisions of City Ordinances: Some of our city ordinances are out of date and out of touch. I would like to identify those ordinances that are inconsistent with the vision and growth opportunities for a thriving opportunity and seek to update them through proper protocol. All ordinances should be consistent with a viable growth plan and be enforceable.
· New Fire and Police Dept. Equipment: As our community grows and thrives, our Police and Fire Departments need to be updated regularly with tools and equipment to do their jobs well. I would like to strategize the updates needed both technologically and socially to enable our first responders with the best possible means of keeping us safe.
Property taxes help provide revenue to run a city and sustain its vibrancy. In addition to our first responders, roads, streets, schools, parks, recreation centers all compete for a city’s budget expenditures. We currently have people working in Oak Harbor who cannot live her because there is inadequate housing. We need 3,800 + new homes for just those workers, plus many more for our military and the employees of our community businesses. We urgently need sensible solutions to increase our housing options. Developers are poised to start projects if the city offers vision and pathways.
Oak Harbor needs quality housing with a reasonable and long-term tax basis. Whether a project is intended for low, middle or high income residents, our building codes should enforce building standards that are consistent with long-term viability. We want development that can be proud to pass on to the next generation. We need quality construction – both commercial and residential - that will be maintainable for decades.
· Low-income housing: To meet the needs of current underprivileged population, address homelessness and attract fixed-income retirees, we need low-income housing options. Low-income housing is very important, however it needs to be in a suitable location that benefits both residential living and commercial retail. Space available in a commercial district should be used for commercial applications. There are other available areas in the city that would be better suited for residential living. Some low income housing projects do not pay property taxes. We can’t afford low-income housing without offsetting revenue to subsidize it. Therefore, we need other types of housing in greater numbers to generate tax revenue.
· Military-focused housing: Apartments, town homes, single family structures. If we don’t build adequate housing for the various needs of our military, we will lose property tax dollars in addition to sales tax dollars to communities off the island.
The military requires 45-minute readiness when called. We must be able to provide housing for military readiness here on the island.
· Middle-income housing: For the families of business owners, business employees, contractors, teachers, first responders, military officers, etc. New neighborhoods attract people looking to put down roots in our community. There are builders ready to develop new neighborhoods in a development-friendly environment. Our community must consider current obstructions to development and whether or not they are harming us in the long run and how can we address them to encourage development.
Oak Harbor needs a solid, sensible development plan for this category of housing as it is the broadest category of tax basis for any community.
· High-end housing: For affluent retirees and luxury travelers. Oak Harbor is an attractive community with similar pleasant weather to other island communities that provide luxury retreat and housing options for the world’s rich and famous. There is no reason we cannot offer similar attractions as Friday Harbor or Roche Harbor if our long term vision can encompass this potential.
We must all be aware of and accountable for city spending. Currently, our City is headed in a downward spiral. In my opinion, our city cannot afford to go down the "tax and spend" road. There have been overruns of budgeted projects (sewage plant), indiscriminate and unnecessary spending, and little oversight of resource allocation. We may have a good credit rating for the city, but anything that you borrow and budget will eventually have to be repaid. We need to run this city like we would run a business. Simply, there are revenues, there are expenses and there is profit. Responsible communities figure out how to generate revenue, manage expenses and channel profits into city growth, repeating the cycle.
· Transparency: Citizens deserve to know what it costs to run the city. There must be public disclosure of the city’s short term and long term budgets as well as the current plans for the city’s future.
· Accountability and Responsibility: As there have been overruns on city spending, the citizens deserve to know how and why those overruns occurred, who was responsible, how they were resolved and how we can avoid them in future projects.
· Better Communication Between Citizens and City Government: Although many citizens may not remain vigilant about city expenditures, they are ultimately disgruntled by wasteful actions and carelessness on the part of their elected officials. It is the duty of elected officials to keep a community honestly informed regarding revenues, expenses, projects, timelines and other issues. I will make every effort to release periodic information to Oak Harbor taxpayers to assure them our goals, revenues, expenses and projects are in line with our promises. In my opinion, our city departments and employees need to take a professional, more business like approach when dealing with local and out of town people that want to do business with the city of Oak Harbor whether it be on the phone or in person, obtaining information on codes, paying fees or any other related city business.
General funding for the City of Oak Harbor can and does come from different areas. I have a few ideas for different funding options, as opposed to raising taxes and utility rates.
· Managed Growth: With private capital investment in new housing and commercial developments within the City, not only can we receive sustainable impact fees from community builders, you also broaden the tax base which in turn will put money back into the City.
· Sales Tax Revenue: By encouraging the local consumer to shop for goods and services here in Oak Harbor through better awareness, promoting local businesses and by possibly adding an additional large box store, we can avoid raising sales taxes. We would just be increasing gross sales tax revenue. By doing this, we can bring a steady inflow of money into the city. Remember more people who live in the city, more revenue the city receives.
· Services: Perhaps, we should reconsider our billing process for the new waste-water treatment facility. A more proportionate billing system for services would make more sense. As an example, why should a homeowner with 1 toilet pay the same amount as a homeowner with several toilets?
· Events: By hosting different events whether it be at our new park or at our high school stadium or on private property, the revenue can be earmarked for certain projects to be done in the city. Events such as sporting/tournaments, auctions, concerts and general fundraising celebratory parties can not only bring in new tourism and sales tax revenue, it can also pay for any maintenance and new projects that need extra funding.
To be a safe, thriving and beautiful community, Oak Harbor officials must maintain constant awareness of the conditions and the potential of our community assets. · Repairs-Maintenance and Upgrades
· Parks: Continuously be aware, schedule and upgrade the quality of turf, tree replacement, equipment, lighting and safety in our community parks.
· Walking and Biking Paths: Maintain, improve, paving existing bike and walking paths and develop the interconnections of neighborhoods and healthy living through a continuously growing network of safe "health pathways".
·Streets, Water and Sewer distribution, Storm-Water, and Telecommunications: Create short-, mid-, and long-term plans for water, sewer and roads. Our storm water system is in need of updating. Without an updated storm water plan, which restricts our future growth.
Have you been on the internet lately? No business is going to reside here without upgrading our internet. We need to attract telecommunications companies to invest here.
·Highway 20: Lobby the state to upgrade SR 20 from north Oak Harbor to the South. Our entire highway core through the city needs to be upgraded. New lanes need to be added in critical areas. Traffic Circles could replace the traffic signals.
I envision that Oak Harbor can be a haven for new economic growth. Many Americans are looking for quality of life in a vibrant community apart from but near to a major population center.
Oak Harbor could be a population center for workers commuting to jobs on the mainland, choosing to live and pay property taxes here while enjoying quality of life, rather than commuting to here from hectic population centers on the mainland
Oak Harbor could be a location for businesses seeking a better quality of life for their employees. With that, there could be an increase in the number and quality of jobs available on the island.
Oak Harbor could become a mecca for visitors, a place filled with lovely shops, local shopkeepers, quality restaurants, and varied activities.
Oak Harbor could become a place with major and minor hospitality venues, eclipsing our current options and attracting a much broader and diverse clientele of visitors, homeowners and businesses.
The reality is that Oak Harbor should be among the Islands Best Places to sail and moor. At present, our harbor hardly lives up to its name and we cannot accommodate the large, affluent visitors we might have by water.
The re-development of our marina is a long-term and costly project that involves hundreds of millions of dollars in re-dredging and upgrading our piers and docks.
However, it is part of a long-term vision that must be implemented now and engaged in phases with specific timelines.
Is this perhaps the time for the city to bring in an outside marina operator/investor rather then exhausting our tax base on things most people don't use in the community.
Part of our plan should be an attractive walkways and trails joining our marina, parks, shopping and destination areas.
Oak Harbor currently lacks a multi-purpose community center.
A community center could serve as a Convention Center, drawing convention and meetings groups from around the northwest. In that capacity, it could be a huge revenue generator assuming we had the hospitality resources to support such draws.
A community center could also serve as a gathering place for community events and community fund-raising, whether they be educational, athletic, military, business or family-based.
Properly built, a community center could further serve as an Emergency Center for weather, war, or any other call to shelter.
A harbor front location, centrally located, funded or supported by a major hotel investor (water-front hotel) would be a benefit the entire community.
I envision that in the near future, our city should begin negotiating some type of arrangement between the current owner and assistance of a investor to get an airport plan into application with the Federal Aviation Administration application process. Congress considers funding these endeavors every year on a rotation cycle . Once achieved the city, county or both would be the caretakers of the FAA asset. The city would have little or no money into this investment, while benefiting from millions of dollars of commerce that an airport would generate for the community.
I would like to encourage a living sense of community awareness by identifying the elements that make shopping areas, restaurant areas, residential areas, commercial buildings, streets, parks, and all other areas attractive and appealing which is an investment that benefits all.
· Identify the city’s role in improving and maintaining attractiveness throughout the city.
· Identify business’s role in improving and maintaining attractiveness within the business community.
· Identify homeowner’s role in improving and maintaining personal property, attractiveness and pride.
· Identify and support community events that make Oak Harbor attractive and inviting to local citizens, visiting tourists and shoppers all year long, such as Christmas Lighting, Holland Happenings, Summer Festivities in our new park, Car show, Oak Harbor Music Festival, etc. We have recently lost some of these events, such as Race Week. With these positive changes, perhaps we can re-acquire them in addition to adding more for the community. Perhaps we can cultivate better relations and cooperation with the Navy to create new local events which will benefit all.
By doing these types of things, you will attract and cultivate a better atmosphere for the community, which will add to the city revenue.