LETTERS TO THE EDITOR | City’s plans lack ambition
June 29, 2012 · Updated 3:37 PM
To the editor:
How encouraging it was to read, on last Wednesday’s front page, that Langley’s administration and its City Council are now pulling together to bring about a new “street cafe” ordinance that will allow sidewalk dining. Although Councilman Seligson finds the idea “sensational,” and “one of the best ideas to come down in a long time,” I hope that neither side intends to rest on its laurels.
The general economy of South Whidbey (and the Langley economy in particular) suffers from a rather serious structural shortcoming. Our population is gradually growing older and we have trouble keeping what few young families remain. In order to attract young families, it will not suffice to tweak the local retail sector, or encourage more residential construction. To reverse the current trend, we need to think bigger than tall lattes and short plats. Langley needs to attract well-paying jobs, and the families that chase them. Doing so is the key to our long-term economic health.
The city of Langley is remarkably well-positioned to stake out a new, more solid, economic footing. Like a seasoned quarterback, Mayor Kwarsick knows the planning playbook inside out. Our director of Community Planning, Jeff Arango, has the vision, energy and knowledge to bring any plan to fruition. The City Council is energized and well aware of the challenges we face, and the city’s Comprehensive Plan has already set a strong foundation by pointing out our three local strengths: culture, health and education.
It is important that the city’s administration and City Council set their sights higher. South Whidbey needs to pull together to create a new, more dynamic, local economy with well-paying jobs: an economy that can attract and keep young families; an economy that is less dependent on the residential construction and retail sectors.
To date, however, the city’s focus has been trained on assisting these latter two sectors. I hope we can expect even more sensational, and more ambitious, plans in the future.