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Old 05-04-2020, 08:55 PM
 
Location: Chi > DC > Reno > SEA
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Vashon is one of the few parts of the Puget Sound region I haven't been to in the year or so I've lived in Seattle, and now that I'm Street-Viewing around it a little, it looks like there's pretty much nothing for visitors. There isn't even really any development around the ferry terminals, and the town center of Vashon is just a couple blocks long. This is despite it being a good-sized island that's fairly close to Seattle proper.

Why hasn't it been developed in the same way as Whidbey Island, the San Juans, Bainbridge Island, and the towns like Gig Harbor (not islands but they are across Puget Sound from the more developed side of the metro)? Has there been local resistance to it, like how Mercer Islanders for a long time didn't want light rail? Is the geography less interesting in a way that I'm not noticing? Is there some kind of environmental regulations going on? What's the deal here?
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Old 05-04-2020, 10:22 PM
 
Location: Seattle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheTimidBlueBars View Post
Vashon is one of the few parts of the Puget Sound region I haven't been to in the year or so I've lived in Seattle, and now that I'm Street-Viewing around it a little, it looks like there's pretty much nothing for visitors. There isn't even really any development around the ferry terminals, and the town center of Vashon is just a couple blocks long. This is despite it being a good-sized island that's fairly close to Seattle proper.

Why hasn't it been developed in the same way as Whidbey Island, the San Juans, Bainbridge Island, and the towns like Gig Harbor (not islands but they are across Puget Sound from the more developed side of the metro)? Has there been local resistance to it, like how Mercer Islanders for a long time didn't want light rail? Is the geography less interesting in a way that I'm not noticing? Is there some kind of environmental regulations going on? What's the deal here?
I lived there 1997-2000 and I’ll venture a few guesses.

-The obvious: there is no way to drive there. Also, (like the OP said), the “main” town isn’t right off the ferry like Bainbridge, you actually have to drive to it. The main ferry to Vashon leaves from West Seattle, not Seattle proper. There is a passenger boat from Downtown Seattle, but then a visitor would revert to the previously discussed problem of the main cafes, bakeries being 5 miles inland from ferry.

-The perhaps not so obvious: Vashon has always had a counterculture vibe to it, to this day that is true. The smart or very protective city council (depending on your perspective) has always severely limited the commercial development that might create a larger tourism infrastructure. Also, it’s a real risk as a business owner to create something new, many cafes and shops have opened and gone out of business over the years. There are some that are long lasting, they tend to be ones that are much loved by the actual islanders.

In short, Vashoners like things exactly the way they are. A lot of the visitors who go over there aren’t really into tourist things. They often are looking for a Bnb, serenity, nature, organic cafes, a little cove to put their kayak in. The beauty of Vashon unfolds in layers and you don’t see it right away, especially if you are buzzing through goal oriented with city energy. I left a long time ago but still visit Vashon periodically. I had gotten divorced and was going through a tough time emotionally when I first moved there, I fully believe that I was helped to heal by the mellow, slow vibe, sense of community. For that, I will always be very grateful.

I’d give you about 15 magical places to go on the island but that’s not the way it works over there . If you really want to get to know it, you have to earn Vashon with intention, positive vibes, time and patience.

Last edited by homesinseattle; 05-04-2020 at 11:51 PM..
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Old 05-04-2020, 11:34 PM
 
Location: Independent Republic of Ballard
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Water is also an issue that limits development.

https://www.vashonbeachcomber.com/ne...could-run-dry/
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Old 05-05-2020, 03:48 AM
 
Location: Outside US
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People in Vashon don't want tourists imo.
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Old 05-05-2020, 09:07 AM
 
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It's a good question why they don't even run a ferry out of downtown. Why they never built a bridge is a little easier to guess. The bridge connecting Bainbridge Island to the peninsula is only about 600-700 feet long where as a theoretical bridge connecting Vashon Island to Southworth would need to be upwards of a mile long and I suspect there never was a business case for such an expensive project and likely never will be.
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Old 05-05-2020, 09:50 AM
 
241 posts, read 208,749 times
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I worked in the San Juans for 2.5 years and lived there for 4. Once you get away from Friday Harbor, Roche Harbor, Eastsound, & Moran/Rosario areas, the San Juans aren’t that touristy either.

One of the things that drove the San Juans to tourism was irrigation improvements shifting agricultural production to the Yakima valley.
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Old 05-05-2020, 12:29 PM
 
Location: Seattle
512 posts, read 335,080 times
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Vashon doesn't want to be developed. It's an enclave of middle class hippies and well to do folks moving in from the city to start their 2nd life as a hobby farmer, craftsperson, etc.

It's a lovely place, of that there is no doubt. Vashon is a bit too precious for my taste, I prefer Kingston. :-)
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Old 05-10-2020, 08:34 AM
 
Location: North Idaho
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A constant herd of tourists is in no way a plus for the local residents. I suspect they are happy to have the tourists stay away.
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Old 05-10-2020, 11:33 AM
 
Location: State of Transition
85,937 posts, read 79,124,938 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beernik View Post
I worked in the San Juans for 2.5 years and lived there for 4. Once you get away from Friday Harbor, Roche Harbor, Eastsound, & Moran/Rosario areas, the San Juans aren’t that touristy either.

One of the things that drove the San Juans to tourism was irrigation improvements shifting agricultural production to the Yakima valley.
The San Juans always were the summer getaway destinations of the Seattle area's rich, though, too. The trend toward owning large estates accelerated in the latter half of the last century, and there were retirement community developments as well. This drove RE prices higher, which in turn drove the tax burden higher. In addition, Orcas residents pay a special local tax to maintain open space around the island. It became impractical to maintain farms.

The old orchards are still there, old turkey farm land has been repurposed as stables and riding concessions for tourists, etc. in a way, it's too bad, because there's productive land all over the islands. They could potentially become completely food-self-sufficient communities. That's some useful potential, in view of climate change, and the eventual collapse of California's agricultural industry. OTOH, how practical could self-sufficiency be, with multiple ferries daily disgorging hordes of tourists onto the islands, especially in the increasingly water-scarce summers?

Just something I"ve been thinking about. Vashon residents probably don't want to suffer a similar fate of becoming a popular destination, then a popular vacation-home location, with all their attendant side-effects.
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Old 07-12-2020, 05:32 AM
 
101 posts, read 9,674 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jakebarnes View Post
Vashon doesn't want to be developed. It's an enclave of middle class hippies and well to do folks moving in from the city to start their 2nd life as a hobby farmer, craftsperson, etc.

It's a lovely place, of that there is no doubt. Vashon is a bit too precious for my taste, I prefer Kingston. :-)
I've been on Vashon about 4 years and generally agree with you. Since I have a decent work and living situation here I won't leave anytime soon, but don't plan to retire here and might leave a little before that.

While Vashon is beautiful, pleasant, and safe, it's too ethnically and socially homogeneous for my tastes. The population is composed mostly of wealthy and middle-class whites and those of us who serve them, with a few vocal minority old hippie, hick and redneck holdouts from when it was more affordable.

Eventually I'll probably move to Shoreline or Edmonds (if I can afford it). I don't want to move back to Seattle, but want to live where's there's more going on than Vashon but where nature is reasonably close. Shoreline or Edmonds affords convenient access to Kingston and the Olympic Peninsula, which is honestly more beautiful, interesting, and less developed than Vashon.
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