Whidbey Island and our neighboring islands and towns rely on tourism to balance town budgets.
Many small businesses of all kinds have emerged to enhance this profitable market sector.
Like most small businesses on Whidbey Island, we have found hiring reliable labor a new challenge.
As a chamber member, I know that this is a shared concern of many other local business owners.
The Navy’s increased personnel at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island have occupied most of the low-cost housing on Whidbey Island.
This leaves fewer viable housing options for wait staff, young farmers, interns and apprentices who work for the many local non-profits, and other entry-level and service personnel.
The other problem for small businesses is the sheer volume and profile of the Growler jet noise.
It’s not only loud but it includes low-level noise that vibrates everything in and under its path.
That’s the part that makes you feel sick to your stomach.
If the Navy’s draft proposal for more jets comes to pass, operations at OLF in Coupeville may increase 6 times beyond the current 6,100 operations.
This means jet noise will take over our soundscape five out of seven days every week, making life and work in Central Whidbey impossible.
Neither our customers nor our workers will tolerate that amount of noise. A recent economic study shows that there is no doubt that more jet noise will mean fewer tourists and fewer dollars for our local businesses on Whidbey.
As most of us are aware, the Growler jets flew both day and night for five days this past week (April 23-27) over the Outlying field in Coupeville.
For a young man we hired to assist us with production this past week, the jets were too loud to sleep to recover from a long day of work.
Additionally, he was just diagnosed with hypertension.
Per his doctor’s instructions, he keeps track of his blood pressure — which fluctuated wildly this under the Growler jet noise. Noise, as confirmed by the Washington State Department of Health, is a public health concern.
And scientific research shows jet noise has negative cardiac impacts. I witnessed first-hand the physical impacts noise had on this young man, and it was frightening.
What this means for our business is that another experienced and skilled worker will not come back to Whidbey Island. It makes non-military businesses harder.
This path leads to the reduction of economic diversity and sustainability.
If you care about the impacts of Navy Growlers on our community and you are ready to take action to protect your soundscape from Growler noise, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
President of COER