An oft-used newsroom proverb is that nothing much happens in the summer. Not so this season. It has been a busy couple of months with the controversy over Tent City, increasing road work on neighborhood thoroughfares and freeways, possible tolling ahead and astronomical gas prices. Each of these changes has touched something that Islanders hold dear: their ability to drive wherever and whenever they want to go, their concept of neighborhood and community, their sense of safety and perhaps most importantly — their feeling of control.
No one is going to offer much sympathy to Islanders — but the events of the last several months represents a sea change in the life that Islanders revere.
People here are accustomed to not having to think about what they consider as basic rights and necessities. They don’t want to worry about safety, the cost (both financial and global) of getting in their car to run an errand or lose sleep over paying taxes or selling their home.
But not now.
Island homeowners received their notices of the 2009 property valuations from the King County Assessor’s office. For many, land values skyrocketed while home and building values fell — very strange in light of a faltering real estate market. Outraged taxpayers now have to set about understanding the changes and navigating their way through the bureaucracy in order to change and/or correct their assessed values. Some wonder if they can afford to pay higher taxes and stay in their homes.
Lately some Islanders feel that they don’t have a say in what happens in their neighborhood, such as with PEAK or Tent City, despite efforts (good, bad or inadequate based on your point of view) to keep citizens in the loop.
So the decision by the City Council to revisit the changes to Island Crest Way is a welcome one. Obviously, there has been a lot of angst over this one, and rightly so. For the thousands of Islanders who drive ICW several times each day, it is an important issue; one that requires as much input and thought as plans for the leash law or reducing the carbon footprint.
Yes, the proposed changes to the roadway might make sense and it is likely we will all get used to it. But more conversation is a good thing in this case.
As August rolls on, there is much to feel good about. The farmers market is sweet. There are still many reasons to meet neighbors in the park for live music, swimming or a bit of Shakespeare.
Islanders have jumped to help our visitors from Tent City. Island teens pull weeds and travel to Seattle through the city’s volunteer program to help at food banks and senior citizen centers. For the first time in many, many years, Island children can sail off the docks at Luther Burbank. Flowers bloom along Island streets, vegetables grow in backyards and, oh yes, the City Council is on television.