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Why should I vote for Stephanie?


First and most importantly, I am an islander through and through. I have owned property
here since 1980. I raised my family and have worked passionately as a land use lawyer
in San Juan County for 33 years.
As a long-time Kiwanis member, I was instrumental in creating the Pig War Picnic, helping
with Fish for Teeth as well as many other events benefitting the children of our community.
As a seasoned lawyer and an experienced businesswoman operating within the County,
I am the only candidate with established relationships in nearly every County department.

I have operated both a law practice and rental business. From my practice, I have hands-
on knowledge of the pain experienced by islanders regarding permitting, housing and

daycare.
I don’t believe any other candidate has my inside knowledge of what is nonfunctioning in
our County and how it can be improved. We know there are issues but acknowledging
there is a problem isn’t enough. I will hit the ground running and begin making a difference
for our residents by understanding the innerworkings and utilizing long standing
relationships.


Why are you running for County Council?


Through my legal practice, I have seen the impact on our residents that bureaucracy is
having. The lack of affordable housing, childcare, hiring and keeping employees, and cost
of living are just a few!
It’s time to take a close look at the layers inside our local land use regulations and rectify
the ambiguity so that these regulations can be administered fairly and consistently.
Protection of the environment is very important, but so is the protection of our residents.
We must strive for a balance to allow our residents to live well and our local businesses
to run successfully.

 

How will you balance your day job and the County work?


I am giving up my law practice for this position. I love this County and feel I have the
experience to make this a better place. My time will be dedicated to serving this
community and making changes to protect the islander’s way of life.
Which party do you represent?
Neither! This is a non-partisan election. I am an independent and have no allegiance to
either party. Federal issues, which have divided this Country, have no place in County
government.

What do you see as the biggest issues in the County?


There are three: Permitting/Housing/Daycare:
Permitting: Existing land use regulations have caused massive chaos and must be
overhauled to be less ambiguous and more user friendly. The clear disfunction of DCD
(Department of Construction and Land Use) has caused turmoil, stress and has increased
the costs of construction to the point where it is now impossible for a contractor or property
owner to build an “affordable home”. The current set of regulations require expensive
expert reports in the areas of wetlands, shoreline, geology and archeology. Our housing
shortage is due in large part to regulation overkill. The overriding department goal should
be to take care of islanders while protecting our environment.
Housing: Young people cannot afford to buy a home here. Inflation, interest rates and
the rising costs of construction ($500-$750/foot) has all but forced the middle class off the
island. One path to easing housing costs is to earmark funds to subsidize utility costs for
new affordable housing developments by persuading the County and the Land Bank to
sell surplus properties. Another would be to create land leases on County properties at a
reasonable cost to affordable housing groups to keep ownership costs in line.
Daycare: San Juan Island has a critical daycare shortage. Providers face high rent costs
and are unable to hire adequate staff due to low pay and no available housing. Families
are stressed to the breaking point. Without daycare for a two-parent home one parent
must be home which eliminates any additional household income or savings for a
downpayment for a home. This is a circular issue.


What things would you change if you get elected:


Four primary issues
Structure/Budget: The County needs to become more efficient and increase
cohesiveness between departments. As an example, the Environmental Stewardship
Department does not work with DCD (permitting department). The County has a $141
million dollar budget this year for 18,000 citizens. The County needs to be run like a
business by curbing outside consultant fees, working within the budget, and managing
costs. This would result in no more levies.
Regulation Reform: Work with the new County manager and fellow council members
to propose amending land use regulations to delete ambiguity and provide clarity. I would
promote a policy wherein expert reports prepared for applicants are accepted by the
County and not challenged.


Housing Regulatory Assistance: Relax the ADU rules to allow more ADUs on
properties in the County. I support ADU’s situated more than 100 feet away from the
primary home on 4-acre parcels. The County should approve 5 or more stock building
plans preapproved by DCD, which would eliminate the need for building review, not
including land use review which should be the FIRST step in the approval process. The

County Comprehensive Land Use Plan needs to designate several areas where
increased density is appropriate for middle income developments.
Provide Daycare opportunities for all: Work with the early childhood coalition on San
Juan Island to bring together public and private partnerships. The goal would include
increasing the number of daycare facilities and provide a model wherein all children can
go to a licensed daycare, regardless of household income. The County should fund an
administrative position to organize interested parties in following the Orcas Island
public/private partnership model. More daycare providers allow more citizens to join the
workforce which increases household income for families.


You talk a lot about permitting whose function is to protect our precious
environment. How do you propose maintaining environmental measures if you
change permitting?


There are numerous local regulations as well as Federal and State laws to protect our
environment. SJC has a very extensive Critical Area Ordinance, which needs to be
modified to be less ambiguous as certain sections are capable of multiple interpretations.
SJC has development and use regulations, as well as clearing and grading standards
and building restrictions. When the regulations imposed by the State Department of
Fisheries, the State Department of Natural Resources, the State Department of Ecology,
and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are added it is clear our environment is well
protected.


How does the permitting issue affect me, I'm just renting?


Property taxes are soaring, mortgage interest rates are high, and a landowner or
developer pays $50-$80 thousand dollars in upfront costs before a shovel hits the ground.
Construction costs continue to rise. A landlord must pay property insurance premiums
which are at an all-time high. To be balanced these costs are passed on to the renters.
Not good for anyone.

What do you think of the four-day week? People are not able to utilize government
services on a Friday. Would you address this?


It seems clear that the County employees like it. Their work week is reduced by 20% at
the same pay. The problem is that some departments are 20% less efficient. All
departments must be open to the public five days a week. The financial departments at
the courthouse are all closed on Fridays. This is not fair to the public and must be
changed. Something must change to provide a five-day service for our islanders.


It feels as though the County rules vary from person-to-person, would you consider
an Ombudsman type role to ensure 'fairness'?

I believe after County regulations are made more accessible and fairer that the need for
this type of role will be obsolete. That said, the idea of an Ombudsman sounds great on
paper, but the chosen individual must have no biases or preconceived positions. It is the
Councils’ role to appoint such an individual to ensure fairness. I will happily advocate for
this role if there continues to be a need after the regulations are reformed.


What have you done to help the housing crisis?


I developed Argyle Gardens which is a five one-bedroom cottage rental project. The
cottages are park model homes, located across from the fairgrounds and house single
individuals over the age of 55. My husband and I also developed a single five-acre
property with two manufactured home rentals. With the cost of construction and
permitting these days, I believe the answer is more modular and manufactured home
communities. I pledge to keep these rentals affordable.
I'm a working parent who rents, what can you do for me that will make a difference?
I commit to work with the San Juan County early childhood education coalition to bring
together groups such as the Family Resource Center, Family Umbrella group, SJC
Community Foundation, SJC Health Department, ECEI, ECEAP, Opportunity Council and
employer partners to enhance our San Juan Island daycare system and provide all
islanders the opportunity to place their young ones in a viable educating daycare, no
matter what their income level.


Where do you stand on the Land Bank?


The Landbank was a great idea in 1990. Sam Buck, Sr. was instrumental in creating a
plan wherein the County would buy land, record a conservation easement, and resell it
with lesser density. In my opinion and that of many others, the land bank has veered
from its mission. Throughout the County the Land Bank owns 39 preserves, of which 30
are open to the public. Most of us love to hike and enjoy these outdoor opportunities. It’s
time to reimagine the Land Bank. The Land Bank needs to stop purchasing land,
removing it from the tax rolls and manage the existing portfolio. Unused properties need
to be protected and sold with a single density. This is going to require a reboot and likely
a revised State enabling law.


There are currently 93 properties owned by San Juan County not owned by the Land
Bank. Some of these are unused, sitting fallow and could be sold. The proceeds could
be used towards affordable housing.

What about the proposed bike trail through the valley?

The County obtained a $5 million dollar grant to run a bike trail from Friday Harbor to
Zylstra Lake. Regulations require the trail be at least ten feet from the County road, which
led to an uproar by property owners who do not want their properties disturbed. For the
County to take these private lands by “eminent domain” there must be proof of a
“Necessary Public Use”. Perhaps the County should request a modification of the grant
to allow a bike path to be built IN the existing County right-of-way to avoid possible
litigation from property owners along the proposed trail.


How do you feel about tourism?


Our economy largely depends on tourism. As an undergrad communications major, I am
aware of the benefits of advertising, which must continue, perhaps on a smaller scale.
The LTAC (Lodging Tax Advisory Committee) has a funding source - a tax on hotels and
vacation rentals in town. These funds are used to promote tourism or “tourism related
facilities”. A portion could be used towards assisting tourist businesses with providing
seasonal housing. The County needs to revise the budget to protect our island way of
life. One idea would be to originate a tourist tax on the 932 Vacation Rentals in the county.


What do you see the role of the County in the ferry crisis?


The ferry advisory committee must keep the pressure on Olympia. Governor Inslee is
requiring electric ferries in response to climate change, which will not be available for 4-
6 years as the Federally enacted Jones Act requires the boats to be built in the US. We
have several County lobbyists in Olympia and the Council needs to be vocal in Olympia
as well.

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