Archive for November, 2007

Today the legislature considers whether to re-instate the property tax limits set by I-747, which was recently found to be unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court. For the moment, it looks as if electeds, led by Governor Gregoire, will bow to the Grover Norquist “shrink the beast to the size you can drown in the bathtub” crowd.

But even I can do the math. I-747 has put us on an unsustainable path. Five years in, local governments have little fat left to trim and are starting to consider cuts that will hurt.

A few Kitsap County numbers illustrate the problem. Population growth in the county has hovered around 1% for the past several years. Depending on the index you use, inflation rates are between 2.084% (the state’s “Implicit Price Deflator“) and 3.5% (the national CPI). Some finance directors say the real increase in cost of doing business, with soaring health care and energy costs, is more like 5-8%. (more…)

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As if there’s not enough on this lame duck Council’s plate (overloaded Capital Facilities Plan, urgent needs like the Quay apartments), they’re also looking at the Ferry Gateway plans that could include as much as 78,000 square feet of new retail and office space, a hotel and a freeway overpass, all in the neigborhood surrounding the ferry terminal. 

Around town there’ve been more than a few questions about the need for all that commercial space, given the challenges already facing the business community with upwardly mobile lease rates and a challenging retail environment. Coffee shop speculation is that the intention is to turn Bainbridge into a high-powered tourist destination and shore excursion for the cruise ship crowd. Our current tourist scene attracts people who love the natural beauty and low-key downtown. Do islanders really want our “gateway” to become one more tchotchka heaven?   (more…)

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Dave Henry is putting the finishing touches on his completely revamped his 15-year-old Bainbridge Island Community Network. It’s now an island directory of links to dining spots, government agencies, community and visitor info, lodging, calendar items, news and blogs, and other useful, unusual and downright strange tidbits. His “Pizza Model of Community Structure” alone is worth the click to his site. He also has a lot of interesting info on Net Neutrality, and an outline for future articles on how the battles to keep the Internet free and publicly accessible have shaped up right here on Bainbridge. (more…)

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Ads will cost you extra

From the newspaper freakout front:

We’ve seen ample evidence that the terrors of migration from circulation-based newsprint to the free-wheeling, free-to-readers Internet make publishers periodically lose their minds in the search for some cold, hard revenue. Case in point: the Review’s Sneller ads.

Today, Crosscut reports another spasm, this one from the Tucson Citizen.

The Citizen upped the price of their Thanksgiving edition which, in news industry tradition, softens up consumer wallets for Black Friday (a bizarre retailing spasm all its own) by packing in so many advertising inserts, most papers don’t have enough news to wrap around them. (Assuring that on Thanksgiving, at least, my husband can speed to the sports section in record time after his ritual ad insert purge.) (more…)

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sign.jpgOver the long weekend, I received three emails about Gazzam Lake, where neighbors are spreading the word about a proposed road at Gazzam Lake Park. Seven private landowners are discussing plans with City planners to obtain access to their as-yet undeveloped parcels of property by extending Springridge Road. The extension would divide the Gazzam Lake preserve and the adjacent Close Property, currently linked by a forest trail. (more…)

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redcap.jpgWe discovered these mushrooms under a tree in our neighborhood over the weekend and recognized them from a favorite childhood picture book. The little forest kids in Elsa Beskow’s Children of  the Forest wear mushroomy red and white caps to help them hide from predators.   (more…)

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To feed and be fed

thanks.jpgA Thanksgiving reflection, from “Still the Eating,” a longer essay of mine published by Under the Sun Magazine. Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving!

It’s late afternoon on Thanksgiving Day. November darkness hangs in window frames on the wall, and our family and dinner guests keep to the interior of the house, in the kitchen or by the fire in the living room.

My mother is here from Montana. She’s a widow and lives alone, which she insists suits her just fine. “I answer to no one,” she says.

John has arrived with his signature squash soup, small gifts for the kids, and several bottles of excellent wine. He’s single, and hasn’t missed a Thanksgiving dinner with us in all the years we’ve been hosting them. (more…)

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In the aftermath of Kitsap Regional Library’s levy lid lift failure in May, the Board of Trustees last night approved a preliminary 2008 budget that’s almost 9% lower than the 2007 budget. Library hours at all branches will be cut, and fines will increase to $.25 cents a day for overdue books (with a maximum of $5.00 an item). The proposed capital expenditure budget was slashed by 62% over 2007. The budget also contains a reduction of employee positions, which will be made through staff attrition. No layoffs are being considered for 2008. (more…)

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Now that Bainbridge Review editor Douglas Crist has decided to hang up his keyboard at Sound Publishing, let me be the first to publicly wish him well.  As much as I’ve criticized the Review for the past couple of years, I’ve always admired Crist’s skill as a writer. I hope he moves to a daily somewhere, with a bigger opportunity to strut his stuff.  (more…)

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Real estate Tuesday

madisonlane1.jpgReal estate may be a bad subject for some people around here, but the real estate agents I know are huge proponents of sustainable growth, civic involvement and environmental sensitivity. Many of them volunteer large chunks of time to serve the community (and other communities in need, like New Orleans after Katrina). I’m not naming names (wouldn’t want to embarrass anyone or insult by omission). But if you’re looking for an agent, talk to some of the women at Windermere or Prudential (sorry, I don’t know any of the guys).

Speaking of real estate, Yahoo’s real estate page (based on MLS data) says that as of October 29, the median price of an island home was $699,000, up 0.6% from September. That puts a sharper point on the question of housing affordability on the island. (more…)

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