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Economic Effects of Hosting the Naval Base


The presence of the Navy means lost revenue for Island County and increased demand for county services in the following ways:

  • Although Navy children attend district schools, the school system is reimbursed only 25 percent of the cost of educating them.

  • Sailors often use local support services funded by sales and property taxes paid by civilians.

  • The military brings in people who are given a “market rate” housing allowance that has driven up rent prices, forcing out those who can no longer afford higher rents.

  • A workforce housing crisis exists on Whidbey Island. Local businesses cannot keep up with demand for housing or expand because employees cannot find affordable places to rent.

  • Although only 109 new housing units are created annually in Island County, the Growler squadron expansion will import an estimated 634 personnel and their families. The Navy has no plans to expand housing on the base. Why not? Housing additional Navy personnel off base creates more hardship for working-class community members.

  • The external costs of living with jet noise is imposed without warning or recourse on citizens across the region: in San Juan, Skagit, Jefferson, Clallam, and even Snohomish and Okanagan Counties. The proposed expansion will likely increase these costs.

  • The effects of inflated housing markets and increased traffic congestion in Island County are also felt by residents of Island County’s neighbor, Skagit County. The proposed expansion will likely magnify these effects.

Read more about the history of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (Basewatch, The Evergreen State College)

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