Friday, June 30, 2017

Housing, Again

We should realize that our housing stock is actually three different market forces. 

The first is basic housing-people living in a home where they have a mortgage or have been fortunate enough to pay off. 
One family, one home. 

The second market force is the housing that is second homes. For people affluent enough, they can hold a home off of the rental market for sporadic use, all while being able to deduct the mortgage interest off of their taxes. Let's remove that deduction and allow the free market to determine how many of those homes remain sporadically used. 

The third market force is the rental market. In Washington state, those rentals exist in a realm between commerce and investment.
Even though they are rented, for great income, that income pays NO B&O taxes. Every other business in WA must pay B&O on the gross income. 
How about we establish a registry of these rentals, establish a B&O tax amount and fund homeless/low income housing from the proceeds, recreating the bottom and missing middle homes in the communities.

Trying to tax individuals to pay for schools without looking at the many ways that our tax structure already supports funneling money upwards is like trying to bail out the Titanic.

Gene Hart Jean, for the second housing stock, by what method are you proposing we "remove that deduction"?
Jean M. LaytonIt would have to be removed at the National level since it is Federal tax deduction. Our members of Congress should bring it up. After all the Republicans are eager to make people pay their own way, eliminating a tax deduction is likely in this Congress. 

Oh wait, most members of Congress actually have more than one home.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Cascadia Weekly Interview with Jean Layton for Bellingham City Council at Large


At Large

Jean Layton, candidate for Bellingham City Council
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
“My platform is simple and complex—homes, health and jobs,” Jean Layton admits in her campaign statement. A small business owner, a licensed Naturopathic physician (ND), Layton says she understands obstacles to good health, from economic opportunity, to lack of housing and access to nutritious food.
“Currently, there is no representation of the 54 percent renter-occupied Bellingham housing on Council,” Layton says. Her family rents their home in the York neighborhood and she serves on the neighborhood association board.
Cascadia Weekly: Standard opening question, why are you running for Bellingham City Council?
Jean Layton: Multiple facets to the answer. First, I was activated with the Bernie Sanders campaign last year. I’ve been a lifelong Democrat and have voted since I was 18 years old in every election. I grew up in a family where my dad routinely said, “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.”
Getting involved in Bernie’s campaign made me aware the place to begin to get involved is at the city level, and geography puts me at the city at-large because my ward is not up this year.
The issues to me are clear.
I am a renter; and I serve on the York board. Because you have to fix what you are around, what is around you first. And after you fix what you’re around, you can think about bigger choices.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Climate Action Plan - Questions asked in Endorsements

Q: What is the status of the city’s climate action plan, how could it be improved to better support community resilience, the transition to clean energy, social and environmental justice, and community health? How can the council accelerate implementation?

A: 4-19-07 resolution laid out these milestones.
Milestone 1: Conduct a baseline emissions inventory and forecast
Milestone 2: Adopt an emissions reduction target
Milestone 3: Develop a Climate Action Plan for reducing emissions
Milestone 4: Implement policies and measures
Milestone 5: Monitor and verify results

And so far these milestones have not been met. shows we had 4000 people interested in giving opinions about energy saving, even though we didn’t win the prize.

Solar-47 contracts were completed, over $1,200,000 was invested in solar, and a total of 311.15 kW will be saved every year.

Council actions should include continued renovation and updates to lower energy need lighting, heating and cooling of public buildings.
Increasing the number of electric automobile re-charging stations, and working with designers to create solar panel possibilities for renters that can move with them rather than be maintained by the landlord. There is a couple in Everson who made a presentation at the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship  working on this now.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Port Economic Development - Questions asked in Endorsements

Q: The city and county development plans point to the Port of Bellingham economic plan as their source. Have you read the Port’s plan? How should the city work with the county and the Port to create a thriving economy, including living-wage jobs in industries which will be part of a sustainable future?

A: When I read the City report, I see references to working together but not abnegation of economic planning in all areas of the City to the Port.

I do see partnerships to attract new industries

I have read this

2013 The average annual wage for direct job holders is $42,120. Hourly wage $20.25
2013 U.S. median household income was $52,250.
So even in 2013, our port jobs were not living wages.
The report shows wages ranging from 9.94 to 14.52 in direct and indirect jobs.

This report brings glimpses of other Ports in WA

City Economic Development

Policy ED-45 Support the Port of Bellingham's efforts to attract private investment to the Waterfront District, delivering a mix of land uses at a pace that supports redevelopment of the Downtown and Old Town Districts.

Thriving Economy with  Living wage jobs is best attracted by
1. increasing Fiber optic internet to attract internet dependent and higher salary internet dependent businesses.
2. Growing the solar panel industry further.  We already have the biggest solar panel company in the State, let’s lead the nation.
3. Lead the nation in growing Hemp in the county, a lower water use crop with high profit margins and a multitude of uses and industrial jobs processing the fiber into rope, clothes. Oil and feed products etc.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Affordable Housing - Questions asked in Endorsements

Q. What should the city do to assist in the development of affordable housing?

A: The City should directly subsidize housing using the funds collected for that purpose. The city should be accessing the complete amount possible through taxation of 1% per year increases in taxes.
Right now that amount is 2 million dollars.
If a community partner is needed, Kulshan Land Trust or Habitat for Humanities are fabulous choices.

Page 3 of

We also need to see where our past planning has completed its goals and where we fell short
So far, our urban villages are just ideas, without buildings.
That Walgreen was permitted to build that giant drug store on Samish (in the Samish Urban Village) without housing above is a permanent embarrassment

New follower, new question.

I have a new follower who asked this question as a message.
I feel it is important enough to answer publicly.

What do you hope to accomplish if you are elected into City Counsel?

 As a renter, I'd like to create a new requirement for landlords to provide a set of documents to new tenants:

1. a listing of Washington State tenant rights with a phone number for questions.

2. a copy of the rental inspection for the unit (if completed).  If the unit has not yet been inspected, then as soon as it is, the rental inspection should be given to the tenant.

3. a move in checklist to make sure both parties are fully aware of condition of the unit on move in.

 4. a listing of the basics of household management tasks: like when the garbage is picked up, mowing requirements, when noises have to cease or begin and simple things like how to start the mower.

5. a move out checklist of items essential to a clean move out including where furniture could be donated and pickup services for large items.

6. a voters registration form.
 As well as a copy of their lease.This packet would be a benefit to all in the community.

I want to see housing for the homeless be exactly that, housing not shelters.
Short term, we could house people in portable tiny homes on any city property with FEMA (emergency agency) wet trailers complete with bathroom, showers, kitchen and laundry.

Long term, I'd like to see Single Room Occupancy (SRO) facilities in each neighborhood, providing a private bedroom, shared bath and kitchen facilities at a reasonable rent for low to moderate incomes. By providing actual homes, we can stop the $30,000 per cleanup fees for homeless camps.

We need to enforce our current laws preventing short term rentals inside of Bellingham, perhaps with an update to allow for minimal numbers of days for individuals to rent out their own home. Too many rental units are off of the long term market as investors choose to pursue the higher short term rents in houses bought for this purpose. If investors want to run a business like this, we need new guidelines including whether these units should be in residential neighborhoods, health inspection requirements, and B&O tax rate paid to the City.

We need to protect our reservoir, Lake Whatcom from more surrounding development. Holding firm on the decision to not provide water outside our urban growth boundary is critically important to this goal. I'd like to see the City and the County councils work together to eliminate motor boat traffic on the lake, preserving our clean water source for future generations.

We need to set up both triage and treatment facilities for those citizens of Bellingham who have those needs. Our police officers and emergency departmetn end up as the default providers of care when a person is in crisis. A triage unit would provide a higher standard of care without taking a police officer off of the street while waiting at the ER. We need treatment facilities for both drugs and alcohol withdrawal and a secondary level of care as those citizens return to the community,
The currently vacant St. Luke's facility would be an ideal place for these triage and treatment beds.

I'd like to work with the Port to assure our community that the brown field left behind by GP is actually mitigated. The idea of building out that area through the current barrier is problematic. We need to make sure that our Salish Sea is safe for generations.

Lake Whatcom Development - Questions asked in Endorsements

Q: Would you continue to allow residential development in the Lake Whatcom Watershed? If no, how would you restrict development? If yes, would you put constraints on the way new development proceeds and if so, what would they be?

A: Most of the Lake Whatcom waterfront is in the County, not the City, so any development restrictions need to be a joint process.
Right now, Sudden Valley is almost completely built out with a limited number of ULID (Utility Local Improvement District) permits required to get a water hookup.
The area surrounding Lake Whatcom that is under City control is already built out with minimal land available for further development.
All future development must include rainwater processing on site and requirements that no phosphorus fertilizers are used.
We have much of the joint process already determined in this

Monday, June 19, 2017

Food Desert: Questions asked in Endorsements

Abandoned Albertson's
2. How can the city address the Birchwood food desert and vacant Albertson's building problems, and proactively prevent similar problems in the future?

Support the neighborhood group (Birchwood Food Desert Fighters) that has formed with any gardening support for the future community garden at the Kulshan Community Land Trust site: wood chips, dirt etc.
Provide a mobile trailer in the parking lot of Albertson's or Shuksan Middle School for fresh food deliveries in combination with the Food Bank.

Put a restriction on any leases in the city that there cannot be non-compete clauses longer than 3 years. This won’t change the Albertson’s situation, but will prevent similar future problems.

Create a maximum amount of time a business can stand empty before a monthly fee is paid to the City. I’d like to see that time be  no more than 3 years.  The fee can apply to the increased patrols needed to protect those properties and to funding solutions like the food trailer.
This fee for standing empty should be City wide, we would see a reduction of commercial rents and more opportunities for small businesses to move into storefront downtown and throughout the City.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Lummi Water Development-Questions asked in Endorsements

3. The Lummi Nation is preparing to develop a portion of its tribal land and has requested that the city of Bellingham sell water to them for the site. Would you vote in favor of the city selling water to Lummi Nation and what information did you use to make your decision?

Lots more questions than answers in this question. What Lummi land is being developed and for what purpose? Where is it located? Does that land currently have any water connections to Bellingham?
I’m finding this reference in the Comprehensive water plan of 2009 “1.17.1 Wholesale water that states the City does not intend to expand its Wholesale Service area
Based on this information, and the fact that the Lummi Reservation is outside of the Urban Growth Boundary, I would need answers to the questions above before expressing any considered opinion.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Safety: Questions asked in Endorsements

1. In the 2016 City of Bellingham Residential Survey Report, respondents reported feeling less safe downtown day or night than in any previous survey. What factors contribute to this problem?
Happy Children play downtown Bellingham
Happy Children play downtown 

Factors contributing to a Perception of Safety :

A. increase in number of homelessness, creating more situations of trash and urine on streets B. more conversations with friends about scary situations, reinforcing the belief that downtown is unsafe. C. More vacant storefronts downtown add to the dark and scary perception
What are three specific remedies you suggest to deal with the complex issues involved? Solutions:1. Better communication with citizens about actual crime rates. Monthly reports to the neighborhood associations for dissemination in area newsletters 2. A crew of people who do nothing but clean the streets downtown, perhaps a crew of formerly homeless similar to the South Dallas solution.
3.  Provide public restrooms and housing for the homeless similar to the Tacoma Solution.

Thursday, June 15, 2017


Bow and Arrow target
Running for office is like painting a target on your chest and pinning a kick me sign on your back.

Everyone scrutinizes each syllable you utter, looking for places of agreement or controversy.

Even in a simple question like, Are you from Bellingham? as you table at the Farmer's Market can elicit a response based on the listener's personal experience. I hadn't realized that this simple question might be taken as a challenge by a person as to their right to be here, but I do now.  So I reframed my question into, Are you a Bellingham Voter? and now do not reach those eligible to vote but unregistered to provide those with registration information.

The Endorsement process is all of this, on steroids.
Each candidate is given 2 or maybe 3 minutes to make a statement, then is asked a series of questions from the attendees.
Imagine having a random group of people with their own agendas, asking you personal questions about your viewpoint on a politically loaded issue, then only giving you 1 minute to respond.

Issues like Homelessness, Affordable housing, living wage jobs, the lack of support for renters, and an occasionally random provocative question that includes the phrase, "Bellingham Police officers shoot to kill first" before deescalating a situation.

Can the complexity of these issues truly be expressed in under 1 minute?
Nope, this is a gotcha question, an expression of anger that needs to be accepted as a personal truth.
Analysis for the commonality of that anger in the community, will create a basis for discussion, but that cannot possibly happen in a 1 minute answer.

No, this kind of event is a performance.
Rehearsed answers to rehearsed questions with a limited number of people in the room to hear the answers.

Tonight 6/15 is the next event in this mode, the endorsement meeting of the Whatcom Democratic Party, 7pm at the Whatcom Middle School.

If you are a party member, I hope to see you there.
If not, please feel free to come and watch our somewhat messy process of declaring a candidate as endorsed.

The total number of eligible voting people in the room last night was 260 and they endorsed my opponent.

I've heard two descriptions of the Democratic Party, that they utilize circular firing squads and that they eat their young.
I'm beginning to think that both are true.

My campaign continues.

If you would like to join a public conversation about this topic:

And FYI, All endorsements ask for questions to be answered before the interviews. The number of people making the interview decisions in other organizations are sometimes smaller.

Riveters Collective - 12 people
42nd District Democrats - 60 people
SEIU - 3 people
Whatcom Firefighters - 2 people
National Women's Political Caucus - 2 people
Sierra Club- 4 people for the interview and voting by approx 35
Whatcom Young Democrats - 15 people

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Campaign Statement

The Voter's pamphlet Candidate Statements are now available. Here's mine.

Elected Experience:
 None yet, but I’m eagerly looking forward to serving the citizens of Bellingham.

Other Professional Experience:
licensed Naturopathic Physician (ND),
co-author - Gluten Free Baking for Dummies,
author of online,
WCC Instructor of social media and gluten-free thriving, international lecturer and chef

Doctorate - National University of Naturopathic Medicine
Bachelors of Arts - Economics CUNY- City College of New York
Associates Applied Science - Bergen Community College

Community Service:
Board Member- York Neighborhood Association 2016-present
Precinct Captain - Whatcom Democratic party  2016-present
Bellingham Troop Leader- Girl Scouts troops 230, 5008 for 7 years

Statement: The City Council represents our voice. I want to hear your voice. learn from you. I’m Jean Layton, Naturopathic Physician, educator, and progressive. I’m an educated, analytic researcher, seeking to be the direct conduit of conversation between citizens and council. Listen, Assess, Research, Create a plan, Implement, Reassess, my medical training applies to all situations.
My platform is simple and complex, Homes, Health and Jobs. As a small business owner, I provide care to a broad spectrum of people in Bellingham. I directly assess their needs and I understand obstacles to good health, from economic opportunity, to lack of housing and access to nutritious food. Our Council will be a better representation of our community with me on it.
Currently, there is no representation of the 54% renter occupied Bellingham housing on Council. My family rents our home in the York neighborhood. I serve on the neighborhood association board.
My personal history of being widowed at 30, orphaned at 35, remarried at 35, mother at 39, doctor at 41, teacher/lecturer at 45, co-author at 52; these experiences refined my empathy and understanding of how fast life can change. Nevertheless, I persisted. I'm a communicator, collaborator and connector.
(360) 807-5162