Editor’s Note: Courier-Herald reporter Ray Still interviewed Bonney Lake residents David Baus and Justin Evans, who are running for Position 2 on the Bonney Lake City Council.
Ray Still: What do you do for a living and what experience do you have that qualifies you to be a City Council member?
Dave Baus: I am a developer (with Village Concepts). I have been a residential multi-family housing developer for 23 years. I went to school for urban planning and did an internship with an affordable housing developer in Idaho and from there, I lived in five different states. I developed roughly 30 plus communities in five different states.
I understand what makes communities work. I understand what it takes to make it strong. I’m a developer. I’ve seen the future. I’m a visionary. I know that us sitting here, being content in our own neighborhood isn’t going to keep up vibrant and attractive. If you are not growing, you’re dying.
Yes, we are fortunate with our location. How fortunate we are living in a community that is on a Plateau that has a major freeway running through it, that has somewhat been thought out into three different pockets of town.
There has been some good planning. The thing that Bonney Lake needs to do is now fill in the holes. When I say fill in the holes, I mean, where is our Trader Joes? Where is our health stores? Where is our baker? Where’s our farmer’s market? Where is a kid’s fun park?
Realistically, Bonney Lake is an economic highland for all these outlying areas. What I bring is excitement, and what I bring is the understanding that we have to go out and make it happen. The days of us kicking back and people just building are just not there anymore. If you want the business, if you want good, strong companies to come to your town, you have to fight for them.
RS: So what I am hearing is you want to get on the City Council to help expand the city economically.
DB: My big push is to create a more vibrant Bonney Lake. A long lasting Bonney Lake. We are missing a city core. We area missing a downtown. We are fragmented. What Bonney Lake has is the opportunity to create a downtown. Some cities don’t. Look at Enumclaw –they’re pretty well built out. Look at Sumner – they’re built up downtown. We don’t have a downtown. We have a huge opportunity to build a downtown.
To do it right is the key, and that’s who I am, is a person who when projects come, can see where they’re good and where they’re bad. I have the ability to see site plans and see vision in what they are producing and have the ability to tweak it.
RS: Times are better than they were 5 or 6 years ago but cities are still operating on minimal budgets. How are you going to balance building a downtown with a cut and dry budget like what we’ve had over the last several years?
DB: I don’t know the city budget well enough to answer that with any conviction. But I do know that there is money out there. There are developers out there, there are resources out there, and it takes somebody to out and explore and find it and create it.
The key is, to me, is to have a vision and to put a plan in place and go out there and find the dollars. Find a way to make it work. It may be what what they call lost labor. You may not find it for five or six years.
If it’s worth doing, we will figure out how to make it work. Sometimes it’s painful. But in the long run, the returns are there and you hope it’s better for the community.
That’s my approach. I can’t say, cut police, cut fire, cut senior services. One thing I think we do, and wish we would do better, is senior services.
You put them way out in the yonder? It makes no sense. But it is a free building, and they don’t have money to do anything else.
My big thing is, let’s figure it out. Let’s bring them into the community where they should be. They should be downtown. They should be within walking distance to commercial. They should not be way out there. They got a free building and they’re taking advantage of that opportunity, but that’s a little bit of a disservice. They are important. And Bonney Lake will get older. People are getting older. We need to protect that asset.
RS: What about the Bonney Lake Food Bank?
DB: I like it there. It’s next to fire, it’s next to the police, it’s next to the city, it’s next to transit. It’s a great location.
Food banks are immensely important to a community. There are so many people that rely on it, and it’s humane. It’s what we need to do.
We need to get families fed and into clean, secure home for them so they can concentrate on health and moving forward and finding a job and getting stability in their life. It’s a horrible cycle. The food bank has to stay.
RS: The city is outlining two big projects; one is the new Public Works building and the new justice and Municipal Center, and the other is the WSU park. You’re saying you want to bring in a downtown into the area. If you had to organize a list of those three projects, what would you put on top and what would you put down below?
DB: We need to develop more parks. That is part of the core that we need to develop. Allan Yorke park is a great park, but it’s hard to find. It’s a great resource but it would sure be nice if it was in a different location.
There’s a lot of money spent on it. It’s an amenity, I agree. But it would be nice if it was more centrally located in the community.
But I think the downtown is a critical plan. I’d have to put a downtown first, and then put parks second and justice third. I think we have a building now that seems to operate.
I get it. Having the courts and the chambers together is a little hokey, but you know what? It serves it’s purpose. I don’t think we are a city that needs any more of what we’ve got.
The other things will happen. We talk about parks – we need to look at the single family and multi-family housing going in, and when they come in, we need to add to the parks or develop more parks.
There are two things here – key businesses is one thing we need. I’d also love to get a university or a junior college down there. What an awesome idea. That is what we need. Having a higher education source in a community that already has, on average, higher education, but have the ability to do better, expand on it, to keep people there.
Those satellite campuses are a home run. Plus it will keep people downtown.
RS: A marijuana business could be a very interesting addition to your downtown plan. It may bring a lot of business. Where do you stand on allowing a marijuana store into the city?
DB: It’s not a popular view, but I’m for it. I was on the planning commission to approve an ordinance to allow a marijuana store, and we endorsed an ordinance to allow a marijuana store.
Bonney Lake only gets one store. Let’s design it, control it, tell it where it needs to go.
People said that is what they wanted as a state.
And if you go to the meetings, a lot of people talked about the kids. Kids kids kids. I can tell you the kids are into marijuana. I already knew that. But I look at the parents, and they’re not into pot. Parents aren’t into pot, but the kids are.
Anyone who buys from that store, the kids aren’t getting it. It’s the most expensive pot. The kids can’t afford it, it’s so expensive that parents are buying very little of it.
I believe that that pot from that store is not going to kids because that is primo, primo stuff. Kids can buy it cheaper somewhere else.
That’s my view on that. I’m for it, the council voted against it. and I believe we should control it.
RS: Why should Bonney Lake residents vote for you instead of your opponent, and is there anything else you’d like to talk about?
DB: I’m the stronger candidate. I have more experience. I understand what makes cities work and how to create positive environments. I understand how to work with developers, cities and the federal government to make things happen.
The thing that I bring to the table is I know how to go out and get key employers in my city. I have to get key employers, key people, I have to put key resources in all my developments.
People don’t realize this, but my strength is, I know it takes more than us just sitting back and letting things just happen. We have to see it, create it, go out and make it happen.
The fact is, I am a family man. I’ve had a kid go all the way through the school system. I have a kid who is about to graduate from the school system. I have a kid that is starting elementary school. I understand how important communities are, and the benefits of good communities.
I’m also endorsed by the TNT, I’m endorsed by the National Homebuilders Association. I’m the vice chair of the Bonney Lake Planning Commission, and I’m the president of my homeowners association for two plus years.