When I read about Wright’s Crossing I am concerned that greed and secrecy is going on rather than truly dealing with affordable housing. Greed and secrecy are some of the reasons that we have an affordable housing crisis.
We are fortunate that there are guidelines provided by the City of Oak Harbor, Island County and the state that look into the future for our wellbeing. There may be a time at a much later date where the farm that Wright’s Crossing is looking at will be included in Oak Harbor’s Urban Growth Area expansion.
The number one issue is affordability, not to be mistaken for available housing because just building housing, doesn’t make it affordable. A house is only worth what a person is able to pay. When you look at incomes in this area you see that there is a significant number of folks that need truly affordable housing not what is being proposed at Wright’s Crossing.
Another crucial issue is leapfrogging Oak Harbor’s Urban Growth Area. This is not good planning or following the guidelines that are in place. It is not just small groups of people that have voiced opposition to leapfrogging into farm land. The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) has stated that productive agricultural land and open space are needed and their loss comes at the expense of extensive infrastructure development such as increased storm water runoff management, overhead utility lines, water and sewer.
A developer must provide traffic and water studies; these are not a gift to the city from the Wright’s Crossing developers as stated in a recent news article.
So, what is the solution and next action required to create affordable housing? We could start by learning from other towns and thinking out of the box.
How about doubling the density? Cut a $300,000 unit in half and put those $150,000 units within the city limits/UGA. I applaud the City of Oak Harbor for laying the groundwork for allowing accessory dwelling units that can be built in people’s backyards if all requirements are met.
Are there any landowners in the current UGA willing to sell their land for a reasonable cost to support affordable housing? Are there loan institutions willing to step up with new options that would support affordable housing?
The cost of affordable housing starts with thinking in new ways.