Feb 252011
 

Whatcom County Executive Pete Kremen

At the Lummi Island Grange this past Wednesday, Whatcom County Executive Pete Kremen opened the meeting with an entertaining impression of Bill Clinton saying that he “felt our pain.” Clearly, if he hasn’t felt it he has at least heard about it, or read about it. He’s a mellifluous reader and read us several letters as part of his thirty minute recap of what has taken place since about 1988 or maybe as early as 1982. The best letter was one he had written just before coming to the island last evening where he asked the BIA to sign the dang lease. Mike S., in the following Q and A complimented the County Executive on the letter but pertinently wondered why he hadn’t written it a year and a half ago when this issue first came up. There were other letters including one the Lummis sent in 1978 theatening to stop the ferry in 60 days. To paraphrase: “We get these all the time,” said the guys from the County. Not to worry.

There was a discussion of the “traffic safety issue” that the Tribe keeps raising but we learned that the documented fact that Lummi Islanders don’t cause any of the accidents is irrelevant because the Lummis believe it is true, leading any objective observer to conclude that the Tribe’s approach to negotiating is faith-based. The faith of our brethren across the Passage is matched by the faith of Islanders who believe that the Feds will ride to the rescue. This is what Mr. Kremen hopes will happen too, as he has met with our Congressman and talked to our Senators (and written to the BIA).

He offered the news flash that it’s kind of frustrating dealing with the Lummi Nation. As evidence he relayed an anecdote about a meeting with the new Business Council Chairman who spent an hour and a half in Mr. Kremen’s office asking for help on social issues without mentioning that that very day he had signed a letter threatening closure of the ferry. I felt Mr. Kremen’s pain on that one.

Since pretty nearly each of the eighty or so Islanders who attended the meeting is an expert on the history of the ferry, the status of ferry negotiations, the traffic safety study, the currents and the tides plus every bump on Haxton Way, there really wasn’t much new to take away from last night.

Mr. Kremen’s pitch to the BIA was good, excellently written (and well-read). The County Attorney seemed to say that the Lummis might try and filter traffic after the April deadline. That is, they might try to limit who can use the ferry, i.e. students, sick or dying people, possibly commuters. But then it sounded like only the BIA has the authority to evict and that process would wind along a pre-described path. Kremen alluded to  the possibility of the Lummis’s marina (and maybe the ferry) being located at Sandy Point. Curiously, no one followed up on this or tried to find out identity of an unnamed, well-connected to the Tribe businessman who Mr. Kremen had offered to “help.”

When asked if there was a “contingency plan” they said there was but didn’t give us the details. When asked about Fairhaven he said that a passenger ferry could make it but the Chief would probably sink—or maybe he said it could not go very often. But we knew all of that.

All in all I would say that Mr. Kremen did a yeoman’s job of recapping where we are today and how we got there and of eating up the clock in doing so. We learned that Dan Gibson is losing sleep over the ferry and that Frank Abart would just as soon sit in the back of the room. Barbara Brenner wisely kept silent because we like her already and there’s no reason in the world to mess that up.

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  17 Responses to “My Take on the Feb. 23 Meeting with Mr. Kremen”

  1. Love it, Randy. Not surprising that Mike’s question “why not a year and a half ago” was left unanswered, rather like the old gem “how come the county legal staff didn’t due do diligence back in 1988.”

    Pete’s county legal opinion (via Dan Gibson a year & a half ago) basically OK’d rolling over on the Lummi Nation claim that just the dock portion of the lease was illegal, due to that missing BIA signature. Dan was not involved with the 1988 negotiations, wasn’t even on civil cases until 1994. McEachran, the County’s Chief Prosecuting Attorney who was in charge then and still is (i.e., Gibson’s boss) was up for re-election in 2010, just as Pete is up for re-election now (with McEachran one of his earliest supporters). I mean, I’d hate to even hint that politics has anything to do with timing of the County OPENLY seeking help from (passing the buck to?) the feds, but such things have happened before.

    I’m posting here rather than the FF because of the Forum rules. Good to get this off my chest. Sort of.

  2. Last night I posted the following comment on the Northwest Citizen Blog, in an attempt to offer a possible explanation to Tip Johnson as to why, the President, his Federal Agencies, and fellow Democrats, all chose to ignore all attempts by citizens to get answers to this problem. Tips response seemed to try to indicate that I am a bigot, which I certainly hope I am not. It was just a observation, and I will re-post it here, for your readers to observe as they wish:

    I may be way off base with my belief of why the White House, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, The Army Corp of Engineers, Senator Cantwell, Senator Patty Murray, and Congressman Rick Larsen, all either ignore requests for help with this problem, or brush it aside with one brief sentence. I don’t think it truly has to do with accepting politcal campaign cash donations from Indian gambling casinos, but rather with a much higher pressure point. I believe it originates with the Obama Doctrine. Both before and after his Presidential campaign of 2008. Mr. Obama has repeatedly promised to reverse over 200 years of injustice to the American Indian. It is a promise he is keeping. In past days we had Senator Slade Gorton, at one time referrred to as “Indian Fighter Slade” because of his threats to withhold all Federal Indian Funds, due to the Lummi Nation actions against the community of Sandy Point to reach fair agreement over well water rights for their community, and attempts at totally pumping their aquafer dry, by drilling a well next to the Sandy Point well, and flooding the water into their aquaculture site. We now have Senator Cantwell. The days of such confrontation will not happen again. It truly seems unfair to the settlers on Lummi Island, that this is all happening. It is unfair. The price of ending injustice is fairness. The price of reversing injustice is injustice. This is just part of the change we have elected to belive in.

  3. Faith based thinking is no surprise here.

    I see a couple of hang ups here that no one is addressing. For one, the Lummis apparently have issues. I’m sure they don’t mind having money, but money doesn’t necesarily solve issues. The BIAs answers will probably take only two forms, law or money.

    You have 80 people well informed of each other’s historical perspectives, but who is talking with the Lummis? Do any of you even really know what they want? The more each group keeps to themselves, the easier it is to stubbornly refuse each other.

    Try a casual pot-luck dinner with some live music and 40 reps from each side, shaking hands and collecting as many views of vision from the other side as possible.

    Your side is not about money, it’s about living comfortably on the island. Their side is probably not about money either.

    Maybe they want better bus service to Sandy Point, with ferry parking in town instead. Maybe they want to negotiate for an island marina, which would help all of you out, quite frankly, if any old person with a boat could ferry passengers to Sandy Point or Bellingham. Maybe they think a car ferry is stupid. Perhaps they want a well-lit storm-proof highway.

    I don’t know. If you don’t know either, that’s explains your problem.

    Whom ever represents them probably lives on the reservation. Whom ever represents you is probably some government transportation negotiator who does not live on the island. They can deny him, by letter or to his face, without any compassion. A room full of people who would have to leave the lives they know behind is something entirely different to turn down. Explore what negotiating in good faith might mean. Make it personal.

    Even if you take up my suggestions of aiming for a foot bridge and marina, you will still need to be on good terms with the Lummis. You drive through their territory every time you go to town, but how many of them do you know?

    As with the cultural changes peak oil will induce, thinking outside the box is required. Your meeting the other night, and all recent negotiations, are probably identical in quality to those which have preceeded in decades past. If they don’t work anymore, you need to try a new model of solving your concerns.

    All natives I have met have different values and means than the american public. If this were not so, they would have dissolved into society long ago rather than remaining a separate nation, even at the cost of staying relatively impoverished.

    We have our system. Our legal guys will have to seal the deal. But they don’t have to be the ones who forge the deal. You need to find some island elders to have a pow-wow, to spend a good couple of days in communion with each other and each others territories, until a mutual vision of a natural solution presents itself.

    To any extent the deal is about forming a larger us, with integrated futures, rather than an us and them, the more durable treaty you will have. They are trying to keep a tribe alive. That might be tough when all they get from the deal is outsiders invading their diminishing lands, and some non-cultural cash. The ‘traffic safety’ issue might be more than it seems.

    Both sides (as I imagine it, anyhow) are concerned with their own preservation.
    If that is what is holding up negotiations (and their existing suggestions imply as much), then solutions they would be happy with would take one of two forms:
    a) Leaving them alone, as much as possible (for instance city parking and busses instead of cars).
    b) Embracing and expanding their culture.

    Transportation lawyers are not qualified to even make these sorts of negotiations. They live in a different domain.

    Do none of you have a rapport with the tribe? If not, that’s a sorrowful but likely explanation for what has occurred. I’d volunteer myself, but I’m not any more a representative of that island than your transportation guy. They won’t care that I honor them, if I represent people who can’t even understand the importance of such a notion. It has to come directly from the islanders.

    One of you has to approach them and say “Help us see through your eyes what could make us all happy”.

    You have been treating this like a business negotiation. The evidence is out there that they are not, and further business negotiating is doomed to failure.

    If I might go on a limb here, might I suggest that any satisfying answer will have eagle and salmon energy, and maybe some crustacean. Negotiations will have to maintain a big-picture all-knowing perspective, and yet still have cyclic physical involvement, and come from defended water-dreaming positions which negotiate under the saturating unifying stillness of moon-light.

    All three positions have their distant, intermittently absent, or reclusive aspects.
    They also have their all-seeing, intermittently engaging, and contemplative aspects.

    I refer to the spirit of negotiations, but the physical answers may share this energy as well. The ferry itself is certainly salmon energy. The reef and dock are the crustacean energy. The roads and landscape are eagle energy. Beaver, crow, and sheep solutions aren’t going to go over as well. If they are coming from salmon, eagle, and crustacean energy, this means invisible and periodic migrations will be the more welcome.

    If they speak of traffic, this may mean they want less road presence. Weekend-only service for cars might satisfy them.

    The bottom line is that if they have refused standing offers, you need to understand what they want. A transportation lawyer is not the guy for that job. I highly recommend breaking bread with them before even attempting to negotiate with them.

  4. I didn’t mean the BIA’s (forgot who they were for a moment) response would be money or law, I meant our solutions.

    Any people who have maintained their identity after all they have been through are worthy of respect as a nation. I would be all for natives having oil and uranium rights to the lands they sit on, especially since some of them wish to invest casino money in a seven-generations renewable energy market.

    Everyone who originally settled on the island was well aware that their primary passage was through a native reservation. This didn’t suddenly happen to you. I must also guess that unless there has been a long history of islanders being harrassed when traveling to town, that you were once on closer terms with these people.

  5. Kristal, you are redefining hutzpah.

    I do appreciate your abiding interest in this blog. In fact, the other day someone asked me who was the “transition team” and I said, “Well, it’s pretty much just Kristal Rose and I.”

    Again, I think it’s time for you to focus on Sudden Valley. God knows they must have problems. Start with the lake.

    FYI, we have lots of people with close relationships with the tribe. We have a number of employees of the Tribe who live on the island.

    The problem is Lummi Islanders are not a party to the negotiations. We occasionally get to have a meeting with the County or the Tribe and they tell us good things.

    And, ixnay on the pedestrian bridge. I’m going to veto that on my own authority as Transition Czar.

  6. Governments are mostly businesses now (desperate failing businesses lately). The island is not. Nor really are the casinos. Casinos can never be more than a voluntary tax on other thriving commerce.

    Don’t idealize our vanishing democracy. It’s mostly paid for these days. Look at what inspired the Wisconsin protests. People have to solve people problems. Businesses only solve business problems.

  7. A pedestrian suspension bridge would have had to slighly break the current worlds record for length anyhow.

    My posts are always long, but today the point is short. It’s aggravating, even as an involved outsider, to watch people try to solve issues at perpendicular angles, probably not aware that they are even doing so.

    You have expressed observation earlier as well, that it’s up to islanders now. I just want to hammer the point that it’s up to islanders and Lummis. If islanders and Lummis aren’t involved, change that. You are the guys making the deal, and having a stake in the outcome. Both parties could possibly work out a deal which ignores the government entirely, but the reverse is not true, even if you aren’t doing your own negotiations.

    I’m actually avoiding SV involvement until I get there, to reduce my further distractions from preparedness. Besides, your problems are both more intriguing and more urgent. I am trying to cut down on involvement, but have to have some token of such thinking until I can afford time to invest in full-throttle pursuits again. Lummi Island concerns are actually a stress relief for me, as I can occupy my faculties without personal obligation or consequence here.

    I’m not sure if chutzpah refers to myself, or my suggestions. Probably I need to take that as a cue to tone down things here. If it refers to my suggestions though, then good. Nothing else was working. Living is always something new.

    It’s a rainy day of cancelled travel plans here, thus posting time.

  8. Ed, I respect your willingness to state your position so clearly. My view, from a personal perspective of being increasingly frustrated and yes angry at pretty much everything related to this process, is that most of what EVERYONE does, says and feels is escalating the problem we say we want to solve. Pretty much human nature, right? Even in our most sincere efforts to fix or even ‘understand’ the problem, it seems that we just keep tangling things up more and more, rather than unravelling even the slightest thread of suffering and confusion.

  9. Wynne, I think your observation is correct, and I need to be more successful at not publicly doing, saying or feeling thoughts about all this. I will try my best! 🙂

  10. Indeed. Solving brings about a spirit of increased complexity. Egos thrive on desperation. This is why I suggest getting together first without attempting or even desiring solution, to see if any answers naturally suggest themselves. One doesn’t have clarity when operating from bias.

    I just read recent Lummi letters.
    Either they really want traffic problems solved, or they want to own a fancy $10M avenue.

    If we take them at face value, as one should until proven otherwise, someone needs to be negotiating traffic solutions. I’m guessing a $10M project, jumping the lease from $200k/yr to $600k/yr over the next 25 years is not realistic.

    There are other ways to solve traffic problems though.
    If the ferry were to go from the N. point of LI to their marina, traffic would hardly go through the reservation at all.
    Reduced car service, i.e. weekends only would reduce traffic too. A bus can hardly be called a traffic problem.
    Improved bus service, of a type to support grocery carts (single folding seats) on both the island and mainland has got to cost a lot less than $10M.

    Cars, new or ancient, cost about $3k/yr to operate, all told. 200 cars for 25 years will cost $15M to operate on top of traffic safety costs.
    Unless the tribe is lying about their motive, it’s cars which are the problem, not the ferry.

    If it is just about the cars, a pedestrian ferry to Fairhaven is no improvement anyhow.

    I noticed that the ferry surcharges were $3 tacked on to both cars and pedestrians.
    One alternative is to keep the ferry service as it was, but tack on just toll road fees for vehicles.
    This would encourage people to switch to using busses, until the problem is finally over with.

    If this is acceptable to everyone, then all you need to negotiate is getting WTA to expand bus service, and perhaps offering downtown reserved parking.

    If you can make the switch, you would all actually be saving money as an outcome.

    My ideas mean nothing though if there is no one negotiating traffic alternatives to the $10M with the Lummis.

  11. I love this report. Accurate, to the point, and even made a sad, sad situation at least a little humorous. Great job, Randy!

  12. Maybe the LIBC can start issuing their own version of ‘needs based’ punch cards on 4/11.
    I’m paint my covered wagon, “Reefnet Casino, or Bust”

  13. Maybe it should be a covered canoe, MIke. Heh.

  14. I would like to complement you, Randy, on a well written, informative report.

    Here are some of my own thoughts on the situation.
    1. The County and the County Executive and their legal advice has been inept and inadequate. It is because the county refused to take a firm and principled stand in the first place that we are in this situation.
    2. Just about everyone on the island, whatever their political leanings may be, is angry about the ferry problem. There is agreement (with a few exceptions) that the Lummi Tribe has been unreasonable and that island traffic is not responsible for accidents on the reservation.
    3. I have spoken to several islanders who work on the reservation and have knowledge of what the average Lummi Tribe member thinks about the ferry problem. There is general agreement that the Lummis just are not interested. They don’t care what happens to the ferry or the residents of Lummi Island. They don’t care about the “traffic”. It doesn’t affect them and for them the whole thing is a non-issue.
    4. My guess is that the probable outcome of this situation, if it ever gets resolved, will be more fare hikes making it difficult, if not impossible, for ordinary working people to live on the island. That makes me sad. I am sad to think that this lovely place will become a gated community for the very rich.

  15. ..or very poor homesteaders with canoes. (Unless you start commuting by sea planes).

    Unlike the island populace, which is united in it’s concern, the vision of the lummis may indeed come down to the vision of only it’s leadership. Entities like Disney wouldn’t have existed without their leadership though. It’s not like the american public cared about inventing the internet either.

    While being ‘firm’ might have helped, I think that’s a case of what Wynne was saying, where things get worse the more varieties of effort get put into the mix. The Lummis never said ‘Our demands aren’t being met’, they said ‘We aren’t being negotiated with’.

    If it’s about cars, and only cars get fare hikes, well, working people don’t need cars. I gave up on them 19 years ago after having a career building show cars and owning all sorts of rare european models. My family in SV has recently switched to bus service for work commuting except for weekend shopping, and one of them is a mechanic too. Cars are outdated.

    One problem with these ‘negotiations’, unless I’m missing something, is that they take the form ‘letter of the week’ if even that. I can’t imagine any sort of engineering or art project getting created collaboratively with a letter of the week between planners.

    The reservation is their land. If Fairhaven wasn’t an option, they could be asking you to tunnel a highway beneath it. Logistically, it might have made more sense for them to joint the Alcatraz/Catalina movement of the 70’s, and traded the island for Sandy Point, where they could do whatever they wanted, and not have to worry about traffic. You folks would probably also complain if you had to commute through a grizzly and cougar preserve.

    One thing I am not is a highway accounting engineer. I can’t say if $10M is too much to ask for highway improvements. I do know though that the reason my family would not support my move to the island is the driving conditions through the reservation. Current ferry fares are about the reef. If through traffic is due to the island, they deserve a road comparable to Chuckanut or Alabama. Maybe that does cost $10M. Maybe you need to negotiate for road specs, not road costs, and build their road yourselves (city/state).

    This is a transition forum, and I’m a rarity having partially converted long ago. I expect the ferry forum has no interest in transitioning to bicycles and busses. The timing is right to do this though, and renewing the lease may be just the incentive required fora change.

    When gas costs $40/gal, if the only simple access to the island is a car ferry, the island will become a gated community for the rich. – Take advantage of this opportunity to be prepared for the decades to come.

  16. I’d like to add a small thought here. I realize relations with the Lummis are already strained, and not without cause. I’ve heard about the net fishing and salmon farming issue, a clear case where compromising negotiating did not occur, at a cost to everyone.

    Do not confuse though unaffordable with unreasonable. An offer that the Lummis might make might be both fair and reasonable, and unaffordably out of the question at the same time, particularly $10M in street improvements.

    Many economic entities are trying to make a last grab before the economy dies entirely. I see no reason that the Lummis should be an exception. How well do you think the casino industry will do when people are struggling to buy food and gas? They stand to be in deep dodo guano no less than the island.

    Keeping in mind that our context perspective here is to transition the island towards sustainability, if we are to discuss negotiations with the Lummis, and not just repeat ferry dialogue found elsewhere, it could serve to frame negotiations from a transition perspective as well. Lummis probably need to transition as well.

    If you ask me, they will need a marina a decade from now more than they will need street improvements.
    Likewise, the island will need a marina a decade from now more than you will need a ferry, or no less, at least.

    You can’t beat sailing from LI to Goose Point as far as green futures go. With marinas at both ends, your travel options are diverse.

    Rather than put $10M into road improvements, put it into marina development, 50/50 on both sides of the channel. So long as both marinas support a dock for a cable-barge-ferry, you’ll do fine. Possibly the Sandy Point side can have two ports, just a ferry and canoe launch at Goose Point, and a full marina further north where most island traffic occurs, which also reduces their street traffic. A northern marina may also be an acceptable site for island resident parking.

    On both sides, a future thriving survival is the concern. Unless one side is suicidal, all you have to do is come up with a win-win proposal which is affordable, or can be developed incrementally.

    The Whatcom chief can be phased out as marina stalls are added to both shores, and parking stalls and improved shopping busses added to the mainland. (Either way you will need island shuttles.) Parking does not have to be on the reservation. It can be either in town, or the marina bus can connect to something even further north.

    In short, phase out the ferry to incrementally build up marinas on both shores.
    It will cost more because it’s a new infrastructure investment (so would a Fairhaven ferry), but should keep the Lummis happy about their traffic and infrastructure, and provide post-oil security to the island.

    You might also find new home-buyers attracted to LI if you had a marina.

    If not marinas, then it’s phase out the Chief in favor of a Fairhaven ferry.
    I’m guessing though, that if you did that, the Lummis will not want to reduce the cost to use Goose Point, so you will be paying for two ferries at once, and never end up with a practical long term port for your heavy hauling. – As long as the Lummis see an improvement on their side though (the marina), they can afford to let GP revenue decline while allowing the occasional service to remain available indefinitely.

    The one thing which is clear is that the Lummis no longer plan to have island traffic drive through the reservation unless you pay through the nose for it.

    That said, no matter which option you select, it will likely cost more than you have been paying, even if it reduces or eradicates your car hauling.

    That being the case, put that extra expense to whatever is the wisest long term investment. I think it’s marinas. That way you can keep some Chief service while you transition.

    **

    God knows where the funding for this might come from, if it ever will, thus marina development commitment should be isolated from ferry revenues. I would suggest a contract in which:

    A) Per passenger fares cover the original $200M/25yr Lummi access.
    B) Additional car fares are divided 50/50 for development of marinas.
    C) City/state/fed commits to annual marina development benchmarks, independent of ferry fares.
    D) Lummis are required to provide a minimum of four insured leased parking garage stalls per boat slip, which they may lease at any rate they feel competitive with busses and city parking.
    E) Ferried car count equivalencies between LI and GP/SP are not to be reduced.
    F) Commercial hauling on the Chief or a replacement is not to be restricted. Revenues from that also go to the marina fund.
    G) No restrictions are placed on mass transit to any site involved.
    H) Lummis agree to any road safety upgrades that are paid for by non-Lummi agencies.
    I) The Chief can be replaced by any vessel or combination of vessels of equal or lessor combined tonnage serving similar capacities.
    J) Lummis agree to, but are not responsible for any ferry or ferry port upgrade costs.
    K) The Lummi marina must make up for any reductions in current ferry traffic.
    L) The Lummi marina must support all LI marina traffic, and conversely.
    M) Neither marina may charge more than the other for services, excepting leased car garaging.
    N) Lummis are responsible for maintaining as many slips devoted to ferry service as LI provides.
    O) If LI provides sea-plane hosting, so must the Lummi marina.
    P) Lummi marina must provide matching sizes of both permanent and transient slips at LI marina.
    Q) Slips at either marina must be given priority to any provider of regular ferry services.

    Now’s your opportunity to get a marina. It wouldn’t be surprising if that manifests itself as a property tax, probably in some matching contribution form. At least such taxes would directly support local property values which are currently at risk.

    An airstrip is another alternative. Possibly WTA can provide a commuter plane, otherwise that choice also dooms you to becoming a rich gated community. It doesn’t answer your heavy hauling needs either. Nothing beats reaching a realistic compromise with the Lummis. In this economy you wont find a win-win solution. Strive for a realistic best-best solution instead.

    The Lummis demand an infrastructure change, which is their right. No matter what you choose, their infrastructure change forces one upon you as well. You can cooperate, or go separate ways. Either way it will cost you. Cooperating should cost less.

    I spoke a few posts ago that the island itself needed new infrastructure which could sustain new green commerce, and attract new residents. Improvements at the reservation will indirectly improve your own viability for small sustainable retail and cottage industries.

    Become kayaking homesteaders, or pay to remain connected in some appropriate fashion. Other islands usually are homes for the more wealthy. It’s what natural logistics dictate. Car hopping can only continue if the island has the sort of wealth to support that, either rich residents or a thriving tourist industry. A marina sounds (to me, anyhow) like an ideal compromise between B&B/day-hike tourism, some limited commuting, and homesteading. Driving cars off and on an island all the time is increasingly a rich person’s sort of thing to do.

    **

    Off on a different tangent, a replacement ferry doesn’t have to burn fossil fuel. It could be electric, but even better, it could be powered by mechanical/electrical windmills and tidal turbines which lift a weight or fill a sea water resevoir which powers a winch ferry.

    If the cable is submerged on the floor, with a tether, instead of taut to the vessel, it doesn’t even have to impede other crossing boat traffic. This will also save fuel because you wont ever be fighting side currents. I wouldn’t be surprised if such side currents currently account for half of your fuel costs.

    On the other hand, if you’re going to have a green-powered cable-winch crossing the channel, you could just as well invest in a tram with a one vehicle carrying capacity. I know there was a huge fiasco about such an investment in Seattle, but that thing was way over any reasonable budget.

    What did that thing cost anyhow, $58M for one university tram? That puts the Lummi request for $10M in some perspective.

    If you do the math from a per island household perspective, you will likely conclude that you can’t afford any replacement ferry service except kayaks.

    It suddenly dawns on me that no one is tackling this issue from the perspective any other business would, by starting with your potential project budget. Will you have $100M over the next decade, or only $2M? If the latter, it looks like service reduction is all you can afford. If you surrender to the $11M over a decade which the Lummis request, then you can examine what other alternatives are also available at that price. Is it realistic to begin work on small marinas for that price? I don’t know yet. It’s the kind of question you need to be asking yourselves though. If you surrender to a Fairhaven passenger-only ferry, what’s that going to cost per resident? Can you even really afford that?

    The Lummis have their budget figured out. You need to catch up.

    I suggest you calculate it in terms of property values. The average property will be worth 25% if there is no travel to the island. Let’s say an average home is worth $250k now, selling every 20 years. You stand to lose 250k*.75/20*700homes. That puts your combined property value recovery budget at $6.5M over 20 years.

    Ignoring for the moment that none of you wish to pay 75% of your property values just to have ferry service, that still puts the $11M Lummi offer entirely off the table as any sort of reasonable investment to make.

    Motor boats simply aren’t efficient. Your problem is actually shared by every american who now commutes long distance, and is finding they can no longer afford to. If your budget really is only say $3M, you can spend $1M for a pedestrian bridge, $1M for improved bus service, and $1M for reservation passage, and be done with the matter for good. If someone wants to build a new home, let them fork out the $60k to hire a barge.

    You have a boat ramp at Scenic Estates. Until you have something better, I would see about at least setting up an emergency amphibious sea-plane ambulance service there. I used to travel to Catalina Island in such fashion.

    You should find out what minimal marinas will cost. Islanders need to think long and hard about what their maximum budget is, or start abandoning ship. It would be kind and sensible of you to operate as a community in this, and stick together until either you are unanimous on a budget, or agree to abandon ship together.

    As I see it though, you are stuck. None of you can afford to lose 75% of your property values, and yet if you all now abandon ship, there will never again be any passage to the island, which guarantees such losses become immediate. At the very minimum you need to stick together to afford and make a reality some sort of lasting band-aid answer which at least keeps values to 50%, by which I mean some sort of pedestrian ferry service. You can only pull that off while their is still demand. If you don’t stick together and fix this, everyone left will pay the cost.

    Perhaps I can look forward to affording a $40k island vacation kayak homestead next year. That’s what you will have if you don’t get realistic about determining your budget and having heart to heart realistic negotiations with the Lummis. Perhaps Obama will ride down on his unicorn and save you, but I wouldn’t count on it.

  17. Kristal, I’ve tried to politely encourage you to move on to your next project. I believe you’ve helped us quite enough. Your multiple, stream of conscious comments are rising to the level of spam. You’re hijacking the comments thread and discouraging people who actually have some knowledge of Lummi Island and the Lummi Nation from adding to the discussion. So, I’m putting you on “moderation” and will review your comments. If you have something remarkably prescient to add I may post it up.

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