Many intersections in our district have become¬¬–or are fast becoming–congested and less safe due to non-conforming construction and increasing traffic pressure from development. Development is flourishing throughout our county with housing, new parks and potential attractions, like Camp Bonneville, but increase the burden on these intersections. From my own experiences with such infrastructure and concerns brought to my attention by concerned neighborhood associations, we must address them now with the same priority as in the urban areas.
I have already begun to work with the county staff to bring more attention to these intersections previously given less priority than the more urban intersections for remediation. As the District 4 Councilor, I will make sure that traffic safety becomes a higher priority for the county and that our district road issues are addressed.
Columbia River Crossings
As a Clark County Councilor, I am on the Regional Transportation Committee (RTC) and have been disappointed in the lack of strategic and comprehensive capital improvement planning. A holistic strategy is crucial to addressing current maintenance of existing infrastructure, in addition to the construction of much needed transportation corridors.
The CRC process must not be repeated, and light rail must be removed as a prerequisite to an I-5 replacement. Bus transportation is the near-term future for mass transit needs. Light rail could be considered and planned as part of a comprehensive, long-term strategic plan, but the focus today should be on current needs.
In 2008, the RTC looked at commonly accepted projections for regional growth and foresaw the need for both an additional eastern and additional western corridor to meet the capacity needs for southwest Washington and the greater Portland metropolitan area. Instead, we remained focused on replacing the I5 Bridge and potentially adding light rail to it. The previous political process has not succeeded in meeting the region’s transportation needs.
I have urged the Clark County Council to take a public position on supporting the planning process for another corridor. Our transportation needs would have been better served by having an additional corridor in place prior to any I-5 replacement, and action is well past due.
I have begun the public process on the RTC to address and focus on additional corridor planning.
I support mass transit needs as part of an overarching transportation capital improvement plan. A ferry system is currently supported by the RTC and will undoubtedly make an impact in supporting our transportation demand but not to the extent of an additional corridor.
A fixed light rail line is not an appropriate solution to our current transportation problems. It will be too costly, lack flexibility in its service, and–simply stated–does not have projected ridership sufficient to justify its construction costs. Bus service is the go-to present day solution.
My intent is to reintroduce the idea of additional corridors—tunnels and bridges, while separating the notion of a dependent light rail crossing in the RTC. The goal is to attract bi-partisan and bi-state support of our legislatures and Governors to begin the long-term planning and funding process. Our Vancouver and greater Portland metropolitan area is home to some of the worst congestion in the United States and, with proper lobbying and good timing perhaps Congress will come forward with a national infrastructure infusion of grant money to build an additional corridor.
I will work towards building the political will and vision between the RTC and Clark County Council. Capital investment, plans, funding, and sustainability of additional corridors can be realized and achieved with determination and increased cooperation.
As a member of the Clark County Council, I sit on the Council for the Homeless. We are working with the City of Vancouver to address the immediate needs of homelessness. Despite our efforts, more needs to be done to ensure public safety and provide the conditions that reduce homelessness.
Homelessness is among the most challenging work local government faces. Two new facilities will soon be constructed to help alleviate capacity restraints and assist those in need. Mental health and addiction issues are catalysts to homelessness and appropriate services must be brought to bear concurrently. I have begun the process of working with developers to provide more behavioral health supported housing in Clark County by seeking grants, local code changes, and appropriate locations for this housing.
The high cost of housing, the shortage of low-cost housing, the impacts from urban holding, and the Growth Management Act have disrupted housing markets, falsely decreased the availability of land to develop, and raised housing costs. Urban holding additionally impacts the property rights of owners, infringing on their ability to subdivide and develop. Addressing these concerns, in addition to attracting family wage job investment and releasing urban areas for appropriate development, will all be part of the homeless solution.
These significant factors towards housing availability demand attention and immediate solutions. I already work these issues on a daily basis and will continue to craft sustainable solutions.
Economic Development of Rail Dependent Use and Discovery Corridor
Our quality of life depends on effective economic development in the right place at the right time. Thoughtful development is an important cornerstone to maintaining our high quality of life.
Clark county must remain an attractive investment for capital venture, providing good family wage jobs to our residents. We don’t want our workforce to have to commute out of the county for good salaries when such jobs can be located in our communities. We need affordable housing and good jobs–which increase a broader tax base and revenue stream to support infrastructure– but without raising taxes.
At the same time, we need to retain our rural heritage by focusing on maintaining the natural beauty of our surroundings. We live in God’s country and we want to preserve the best of what we have for future generations. I have no intention to industrialize our rural areas.
We are moving towards removing the urban holding area by 179th Street, the Discovery corridor, after over ten years of planning and deliberation. This development will be a huge contribution to our economic health and quality of life in Clark County.
The last challenge is funding for this development. The project must be fully funded before construction begins, and developers must shoulder their fair share to ensure our infrastructure, roads, and schools are enhanced. I have come out against raising taxes to support this private-public development.
The executive branch has provided seven funding options but only one of them will not raise taxes on households in Clark County. I continue to ask for other options and to fight against increasing taxes on our residents.
It is unfair to place the burden of such a tax on those in our district who have suffered cumulative tax increases on their fixed salaries. They should not have to bear the burden of helping fund this development by a general tax increase. These taxes are proposed in addition to bonds, direct developer capital construction of improvements, and surcharges on development paid also by developers. An additional general tax burden on every household is just not right.