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  • August 08, 2017 12:14 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Important Public Hearing in East Wenatchee, Tonight!

    For more than a year, BNCW and our partner NCWAR have been engaged in pushing back against an effort to implement Minimum Density standards within the urban growth area (UGA) in East Wenatchee.

    These requirements would essentially mandate that a property owner seeking to sub-divide their property must do so in a prescribed number of smaller lots, removing that decision from the property owner. 

    Planning staff is justifying the proposed ordinances as being necessary to comply with the state mandated Growth Management Act. Not true! There is nothing in the GMA that requires a city to adopt minimum density standards. 

    It's also being sold as an affordable housing program, when in fact it's not that at all. If that's the argument, then simply allow high-density, but don't mandate it. There is a limited market for high-density housing and once that market is saturated, then what?  Everyone else (not everyone likes gulag-style living) will have to pay more because of artificial restrictions on the supply of housing, that’s what.

    You cannot regulate affordability into existence, but you certainly can regulate unaffordability into existence!

    Last year, a large number of citizens attended the public hearing, expressed their concerns about their property rights being adversely affected, and the City tabled the effort.

    Tonight--Tuesday, August 8, at 5:30pm, there is yet another public hearing to pass the mandated minimum density standards/requirements. We're asking that you consider attending tonight's hearing--even if you simply do so and don't choose to speak, your presence in the audience is KEY! 

    Where:  City Hall, Council Chambers, 271 9th Street NE, E.W.

    When: 5:30pm, August 8

    What: Public Hearing

    Thank you for your involvement!


  • August 01, 2017 4:15 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    TUMWATER With record-setting hot weather expected in much of the state this week, the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) urges employers and workers to take precautions to prevent heat-related illness.

    Workers exposed to extreme heat may experience heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion, fainting, nausea and other symptoms. Heat-related illness can rapidly escalate to heat stroke, which can be fatal.

    Roofing, highway construction and agricultural work are just a few of the jobs across Washington in which workers are particularly vulnerable to heat-related illnesses when temperatures rise.

    People who work outdoors in hot weather should follow these five tips to beat the heat:

    1. Drink a lot of water! Start work well hydrated and try to drink a cup every 15 minutes.
    2. Keep an eye on your co-workers. Watch those working around you for signs of heat-related illness, including headaches, dizziness or nausea.
    3. Don’t overdo it. Pace your work and take scheduled breaks in the shade.
    4. Wear lightweight clothing and remove protective gear when it’s safe to do so.
    5. Limit caffeine and avoid heavy meals.

    Employers with workers who work outdoors must train employees and supervisors to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illness and the steps to take if someone shows symptoms. Employers are also required to provide plenty of water for workers, respond appropriately to any employee with symptoms of illness, and include heat-related-illness hazards in the company’s accident prevention program.

    Along with the direct health effects of working in extreme heat, heat-related illness can contribute to injuries by causing workers to become fatigued, dizzy, confused or disoriented on the job. That can lead to falls, equipment operation accidents and other on-the-job incidents.

    For more information, including tips to assist both workers and employers, visit www.Lni.wa.gov/Safety/Topics/AtoZ/heatstress.


  • July 25, 2017 3:10 PM | Administrator (Administrator)


    Chelan County is in the process of updating what is known as the Shoreline Master Program.  It affects all properties in the unincorporated portions of Chelan County that lie within 200 feet of all major water bodies, including some of the more minor streams.  

    The changes could have significant impacts to Chelan County property owners in areas mentioned above, such as the ability to rebuild after a loss, setbacks from the water body, or ability to use the property in other ways.

    BNCW and NCWAR sought assistance in identifying all unique property owners in the County that would potentially be affected and sent out 4,400 of these post cards (see above) with the intent of notifying them--most of whom likely have no idea that this process is taking place. 

    Property owners can contact the County and see if they will be affected by any of the changes by calling (509) 667-6225.  Be prepared to tell them your Assessor’s parcel number.  A public hearing is scheduled before the Chelan County Commissioners on August 15, at 1:00 p.m, at 400 Douglas Street, Wenatchee.  You can communicate any concerns that you may have to the Commissioners at this meeting.

    For more information, visit Chelan County’s website at www.co.chelan.wa.us. or click this link.

  • July 11, 2017 10:19 AM | Administrator (Administrator)


    July 11, 2017

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact: Steve Maher, Our Valley Our Future project coordinator, info@ourvalleyourfuture.org or (509) 630-2090

    WENATCHEE — With housing prices continuing to rise sharply and housing availability at a premium, Our Valley, Our Future / Nuestro Valle, Nuestro Futuro launched an online survey today to get a better idea of housing challenges residents and businesses are facing — and how the region can shape potential solutions.

    The survey (available in both English and Spanish) can be found at www.ourvalleyourfuture.org. The self-administered survey takes an about 20 minutes to complete on average. Click here to complete the survey!

    Besides a series of multiple choice questions, the survey has a place where respondents can tell their own personal stories when it comes to housing.

    The survey was developed by Our Valley, Our Future with input from people involved in all aspects of housing. “There are a lot of perceptions in the community regarding housing right now,” said Steve Maher, project coordinator of Our Valley, Our Future. “The availability and affordability of housing affects nearly everyone, regardless of their background, employment, age or income. We want to tap into what the community is thinking and what is really happening on the ground. It’s important to know what residents really need. What do they see as the critical issues? What housing options would they support? The same goes for businesses. What are they willing to support to ensure there is sufficient housing to recruit and retain employees?“

    The housing survey is part of a broader Regional Housing Approach “game-changer” initiative, one of seven major projects in the Our Valley Action Plan. The housing game-changer calls for a broad stakeholders group to utilize the survey results and other information to recommend innovative solutions and fixes to the system. The stakeholders group is to be made up of citizens, realtors, developers, builders, government planners, low-income and middle-income housing experts, lenders, renters, and major employers.

    “Our Valley wants everyone in the community to have a voice in making housing more available and affordable,” Maher said. “We know housing is impacting the region’s livability and economic growth, and not always in a good way. It’s important for the community to come together to determine what can be done in a collaborative, non-partisan manner.”

    In addition to the survey, the Our Valley, Our Future organization is paying for research into why housing costs in Chelan and Douglas counties are so much higher than other locales in Eastern Washington, including Spokane, Tri-Cities and Yakima. A community forum will be held in September to release the survey and research findings and to gather additional public input. Following the forum, Our Valley intends to hand the game-changer project off to the broad- based coalition of citizens and housing interests.

    The coalition's charge will be to take the survey and research, along with input generated at the forum, and develop short-term and long-term recommendations for solutions to the region's growing housing challenges.

    Similar collaborative efforts in small- to medium-sized metropolitan areas around the country have led to improved housing affordability and availability in those communities. A Greater Wenatchee Urban Housing Study, conducted in 2016 by the cities of Wenatchee and East Wenatchee, found housing affordability to be a major issue in the community, along with the lack of market-rate housing and multifamily housing. The multifamily market in particular had been exacerbated by low vacancy rates and overcrowding.

    This year, several major employers in the region have reported they have been unable to fill positions due to the lack of available and affordable housing in the community, including housing for professionals.

    Last week, Pacific Appraisal Associates reported the median price for a single-family home in Wenatchee hit an all-time high of $280,500 in June.

    Besides the seven major game-changer projects, the Our Valley Action Plan includes 149 action items, divided into six focus areas. All the grassroots projects were identified by residents as ones that will improve their quality of life, build resiliency in the face of change, and shape the community’s future.

    Our Valley, Our Future is overseen by a 15-member team of community leaders. Its fiscal sponsor is the United Way of Chelan and Douglas Counties.

    For more information on Our Valley Our Future / Nuestro Valle Nuestro Futuro, including a downloadable copy of its Action Plan, please visit www.ourvalleyourfuture.org.

    ###


  • June 29, 2017 9:16 AM | Administrator (Administrator)


    Over the last few years, Chelan County has been working to complete a required update to its Shoreline Master Program (SMP). BNCW has attempted to stay as engaged in this process as has been possible. Members should care about the SMP because it comprises a set of regulations that affect all property uses and development occurring within the shoreline jurisdiction.

    The county’s current SMP was developed and adopted over 40-years ago, in 1975. Over the last year, the Chelan County Planning Commission has worked very diligently to put together a draft proposal that seeks to meet the needs of the citizens of the county. However, the SMP is one of the only local regulatory plans that requires the Department of Ecology’s stamp of approval. Whatever the final update to the SMP ends up being adopted and approved, it will have impacts for property owners throughout Chelan County.

    The Chelan County Board of Commissioners has set the Shoreline Master Program Hearing for July 11, 2017 at 1 pm at 400 Douglas Street, Wenatchee. This hearing provides the public with what will likely be a final opportunity to share with the county commissioners their comments, concerns, and feedback specific to the proposed draft update.

    To view the Planning Commission’s recommended draft, as well as other support documents, simply click on this link. Please mark your calendars for the date and time noted above and share your comments. If you are unable to attend, comments may be emailed to Chelan County senior planner, Lilith Vespier, at Lilith.vespier@co.chelan.wa.us prior to the hearing or submitted at the hearing.


  • June 12, 2017 2:15 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Attention Employers!

    Employers must provide training to workers so they understand what heat stress is, how it affects their health and safety, and how it can be prevented. The Outdoor Heat Exposure Rule WAC 296-62-095 (app.leg.wa.gov) applies from May 1 through September 30, every year, when exposures are at or above a specific temperature (see Table 1 of the rule (app.leg.wa.gov)).

    For further information about the outdoor heat exposure rule requirements, click here to visit L & I’s website, or click here to visit the Members’ Only Resources area of BNCW’s website.


  • June 02, 2017 9:28 AM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Douglas County commissioners are seeking county residents to apply for a vacant position on the Douglas County Planning Commission.

    The Planning Commission is a seven-member volunteer panel of citizens appointed by the commissioners to develop recommendations on planning matters in the county.

    Planning Commission members are appointed from each of the three commissioner districts and one at-large member. One vacancy will be open July 1 for District 3, and one term will be expiring July 1 for District 2.

    To be eligible, those interested must reside in and be a registered voter of Douglas County in the district of the vacancy.

    Applications are available online at www.douglascountywa.net, then click on the “Volunteer Commission and Board Application” link. Applications are due June 5.

    For more information, call 745-8537.


  • April 25, 2017 2:26 PM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Two new commissioners, Dan Sutton and Kyle Steinburg took office at the beginning of the year and the progress they have made with respect to improving regulatory processes has been remarkable.  One of the biggest obstacles to economic development and affordable housing is the ever-increasing regulatory burden and even more importantly, how the regulations are administered.

    In all land improvement and investments there are essentially three types of risk.  The market risk, of course – that is, the dangers of market forces changing so that when a project comes on line the market fails to respond.  There is what is known as the “development risk” and that is the worry that the project won’t “pencil” due to any number of factors, such as increasing costs, errors in estimating costs, etc.  But the biggest and most unpredictable risk is the regulatory risk.  Market risk and development risk can somewhat be managed, but the threat of regulatory changes, changes in policy, or just plain unpredictability is beyond the landowners’ control, and often cannot be managed at all.

    Of course, more risk, particularly regulatory risk, drives up prices as project proponents become less and less willing to take on a given project without a higher and higher rate of return required to take on that additional risk.  Simple and persistent economic realities.  The effect of regulatory burden is to add artificial constraints to supply and the unrelenting hand of economic reality means prices increase.

    The new commissioners, both small businessmen, have a deep and abiding understanding of how this works, and have taken steps already (they’ve only been on the job for 4 months) that are helping to mitigate some of that regulatory risk.

    Here are some of the things they have already done:

    • Changed the requirements for neighborhood meetings on land projects to make them make more sense;
    • Reassigned staff to make problematic plan reviews go more smoothly;
    • Holding staff accountable for onerous off-site improvement requirements;
    • Working with the City of East Wenatchee to make “open space” requirements more palatable and thus, avoiding another housing cost increase factor;
    • Taking a strong stand on proposed mandatory minimum-density standards that have been sold as a way to provide affordability when in actuality they do the opposite;
    • Streamlined the bonding process for subdivision development, once again providing a tool to make lots more affordable; and,
    • Changing the timing on submittals of rezone requests.

    These are just a few things.  None of these things by themselves make huge differences, but taken together, they can.  That’s how this regulatory risk (shall we say regulatory creep) – one little regulation at a time -- has evolved and thus has increased housing prices.  It needs to be unwound and these guys are doing that.  We expect many more good things to come.

    Thank you Dan, Kyle, and Steve for working in the best interests of the citizens of Douglas County.

     


  • April 12, 2017 11:34 AM | Administrator (Administrator)


  • March 27, 2017 11:32 AM | Administrator (Administrator)

    Building North Central Washington is very pleased to announce that our Association will now be offering our qualified member companies access to a few high-quality, proven workers, compensation retro programs!

    The SMART A-TEAM group retro program is designed for general contractors and sub-contractors who want to take advantage of a group retro program consisting of a large premium group.

    A-Team participants are committed to accident prevention and keeping injured workers on salary for no less than 30 days. In addition, by returning injured workers to light duty as soon as possible, they are able to keep their costs low. In the past, some of the firms in this group may have had challenges with safety and/or claims, resulting in higher costs. With the support from SMART A-Team and Approach, they are improving their safety record by lowering their experience factor.

    The SMART A-Team has averaged between 25 and 35 percent group refunds since its inception in 1996. The refund is distributed 75 percent based on performance (premium vs. losses) and 25 percent premium. Even if a participant's losses exceed their premium, they can still get some refund monies depending on the amount of premium paid into the group's premium pool. While the SMART A-Team enjoys high refunds, it is their goal to lower each participant's experience factor and prevent accidents so that all workers can return home safe to their families every day.

    BNCW will also be offering our qualified member companies access to participation in the SMART Advantage Retro program. The goal of the SMART Advantage retro group is to provide proactive workers’ compensation claim management for companies in retail, wholesale, and professional service industries, while lowering the amount of premium paid to the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). 
    SMART Advantage has averaged between 30 and 38 percent group refunds since its inception in 2004.

    Also, BNCW now has access to a Retro program for qualified members in the transportation, manufacturing and food processing industries through the PITB Association (Pacific Inland Tariff Bureau).

    For more information about these quality workers' comp retro programs and to see if your company may qualify to get some of your hard-earned dollars back, please contact BNCW at (509) 293-5840, or click here for more information.


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