Saturday, August 8, 2015

This is Revitalized?!? - or - Please Stop, You're Helping Me to Death! (Updated!)

Thanks once again to Tyler, who took these hot-off-the-presses photos of the newly waterfronted and revitalized Port Angeles, just after the ferry docked and disgorged its passengers...

A million dollars and no sense spent to create a
lengthy and lonely waterfront skate ramp.
Summertime, peak tourism time...
and the parking is easy.
Note the new pedestrian-friendly sidewalks
and curbs...
...But where are the pedestrians?
Ah, but there's more to Tyler's pictorial panorama...Now let's fly out to that hub of commerce and so much more, the Fairchild International Airport...

If each log had to buy a plane ticket,
Kenmore would still be serving Port Angeles.
And finally...Leaving planes behind, we see the plain, simple truth that the City (and City Council, naturally) tries so hard to deny...
That's no river, that's just a creek...And even
as a creek it looks pretty croaked.
Now, some have taken this blog, and me, to task for being too harsh on Port Angeles. But I ask you to really consider if that's even possible. Think about the HUGE amounts of money that have been spent to "revitalize" downtown. Think of all the lip service given to economic development, and to promoting tourism. "Best Town EVER," anyone? I hear that the ONP is seeing a bump in the number of visitors. And yet, for all that, a few photos from the peak of tourist season tell a different story about Port Angeles. There's no there there. As in, no people, no life, no activity.
Imagine this: What if, instead of spending all that money on a waterfront development that no one uses, and on an airport that no one flies in or out of...What if instead the so-called civic leaders of Port Angeles simply met out of town cars at the city limits, gave each person in the vehicle fifty dollars cash, and said "Welcome to town!" Now that might result in a tourism boom. That might generate some positive word of mouth. And that might actually result in at least some of that fifty bucks being spent in local businesses. All this other stuff? Wasted on out of town consultants and one-off construction projects. (And don't forget, there's also a cost to maintain all these new developments, too...)
As for the Elwha, the river, the water...Do you really need to be a scientist to look at that and see trouble? Do you need to be a hydrologist to see that little trickle and worry about the safety and stability of your water supply? How many times do you have to hear phrases like "climate change" and "the new normal" before you shake yourself out of your stupor and ask what they mean?
Those aren't just rhetorical questions. I mean, I really have to wonder what, if anything, the cretins on the City Council see during their waking hours. They clearly don't see those empty sidewalks downtown. ("Heck of a job, Revitalize!") They clearly don't see that river drying up. ("Please only waste water every other day now, okay?") So what do they see?
Talk about hire the handicapped...What are the odds of a seven person City Council having six members who are, apparently, legally blind on it? Only in Port Angeles. Only in Clallam County. So for those of you who think this blog is too hard on Port Angeles...Please feel free to tell us all how things aren't as bleak as they seem. Do tell us how the so-called leaders there aren't as stupid and blind as they seem. By all means, feel free, do tell. If you have Kool-Aid, please share it with us.
And talk about perfect timing...Today's PDN features an article touting that "37 businesses have opened, remodeled or relocated" this year in Port Angeles. It's a "bloom" of businesses, a parade of progress, at least according to the PDN.
Well, being that it's such a nice cloudy morning, let's rain (some reality) on that parade.
Fact: Most new businesses fail. No matter where they are located. So of the new businesses listed in the PDN, most will be gone within a year.
Fact: Some of these listed are being "claimed" by Port Angeles, even though they are outside the city limits.
Fact: Some of these new "businesses" hardly speak to Port Angeles being a thriving, successful town - like the Salvation Army dining room and food pantry, for instance.
Fact: Just because a business relocates and/or remodels, doesn't mean it's growing or thriving, either. Many of these changes are changes of necessity, owing to the business having originally been located in a building that has fallen into disrepair, and/or is just plain run down and ugly. Absentee landlords are common in Port Angeles.
Fact: Those new pot shops were going to open somewhere no matter what. It's not a victory for Port Angeles, or a testament to the go go go growth there. No, it's just a testament to the American desire to getting high. As if Clallam County didn't already have enough of a substance abuse problem, right?
Fact: The Chamber of Commerce, still as incompetent as ever, is least being honest about their willingness to lie and deceive.
“It's crazy,” said Charlie Comstock, member services manager of the Chamber of Commerce who coordinates the Ambassadors.
However, Comstock fields inquiries from people eyeing Clallam County as their new home. He cited one inquiry from a man who noted that Port Angeles' population has grown even as Rayonier and other wood-products industries have closed.
Yes, but...the FACT remains that Port Angeles has actually had its population shrink in recent census counts. That's shrink, as in, grown smaller. As in, it doesn't sound like Mr. Comstock takes the time to correct outsiders when they get the FACTS about the town wrong. That's lying by omission, that's deception, and that's one of the many reasons Port Angeles continues to have those empty, empty streets as documented above, even in the heart of nice weather summertime tourist season.
Some may try to pass this all off as "panhandlers and empty storefronts" rhetoric, but it's not. This is an observation of the facts - FACTS - about life in Port Angeles, and the incompetence of the leadership there. Tourists pass through, but they don't stay. Government dollars drift through, but have no effect. And businesses come and go - but mostly go.
All of which leaves the citizens to suffer.


  1. Did they drop a neutron bomb on that place, or what? Where are the people?

    1. You might well ask!

      We just walked to the store, at 9PM, which is about five blocks each way, through residential neighborhoods. We saw people walking their dogs, riding bikes, college guys walking home with beer...In other words, way more people than are out at high noon in downtown Port Angeles during the peak of tourist season...And after the ferry had just come in, dumping a load of, you know...People.

  2. Oh joy!

    We have a new tattoo parlor and a handful of new coffee stands. Now, finally, I can get a job here that allows me to use my college education to the fullest!

  3. No panhandlers in all those pictures, so there's a story debunked. No vacant storefronts either. Two down, Tyler proved it. And there's not a picture of Gastropub so they must have gone out of business, too bad.

    And, yes, plainly all those parked cars drove themselves downtown.

    It's OK, you're having fun, and I can wait for the lodging and sales tax reports.

    1. You know what makes empty storefronts? Empty sidewalks in front of your storefront. Without customers on the street, there won't be any in your business either. And frankly, in most of those pictures, I see more empty parking spaces than full ones, so that is one of your stories debunked.

    2. It really amazes me that people like Anon 7:12 even make an effort to suggest the concerns about empty streets and sidewalks in Port Angeles are not valid!

      Any business trying to make a profit should be very concerned when there is no foot traffic or patronage. No business means no sales taxes, which means reduced revenue to the town. Which means the town is unable to do things.

      Saying "everything is fine" does not inspire anyone to try to make things better!

      Maybe Tyler will be inspired to take pictures of the insides of stores to show what I see so often when I'm downtown: no people inside.

    3. The lack of foot traffic says one thing: rents are too high. These businesses can't survive because most of their earned dollars go towards rent, and utilities, and all the other fees associated with doing business in this dink-berg.

      There is nothing to DRIVE traffic downtown. This is the weekend of the Sturgis, ND motorcycle event. (link, look at the crowds:

      Year round population of Sturgis: under 7,000
      This weekend 600,000+

      Guess who benefits? The merchants.

      Port Angeles -- crap fest 15,000. (No more than the local population.) And, for a big chunk all the businesses in the area are, typically, closed.

      Nothing like thinking (NOT) big, PA. We're number two for a reason.

    4. This is why I can wait for the sales and lodging tax reports. They directly prove sales. Pictures of sidewalks prove ... concrete.

  4. A few cards shuffled, and a few new minimum wage retail businesses do not a boom make. Sure, we may have a few fewer empty storefronts, at least temporarily, but the long-term problem is that no one comes to Port Angeles itself, and few locals even venture to our downtown core. That long-term problem remains unaddressed, and, in fact, isn't even acknowledged, for fear of spooking people even more.

  5. Since when has the PDN been a source of the truth about what is going on around here? Anyone think it is going to start, now?

    Just keep your fingers in your ears, and eyes closed, and keep saying things are going just great in Port Angeles. That'll fix things.

  6. Hey, no problem, we can take in each others' laundry and pay each other for doing our laundry and all have an income...

  7. I always have trouble finding a parking spot over in Port Townsend. Even on weekdays, you have to search for a spot most of the time.

    But Port Angeles? I never have any trouble finding a parking spot here. There's plenty of parking any day of the week, including weekends, and especially downtown.

  8. Just got back from the waterfront where we could not find an empty parking spot. Lots of folks out walking and enjoying themselves too. Any camera can paint any photo by timing alone.

    1. Oh please...Take a look at the photos. Tyler didn't lurk around downtown all day, waiting for the ONE MOMENT when any given spot was totally devoid of people.

      No, he just walked around a bit, and took some photos that capture the real, day to day energy and vitality of downtown Port Angeles. Which is to say, not much "busyness" to be seen, even in summer.

      Has anyone else seen those satellite photos of North and South Korea at night? Prosperous South Korea is all lit up, while North Korea is almost entirely dark.

      I think you know where I'm going with this...

    2. I was actually thinking the same thing until I saw the Coho in the background. When that thing is in, even after it offloads, there should be a LOT more people there.

      Still it can't be that dead all the time otherwise there wouldn't be any business downtown at all. My personal experience has been real hit or miss. There are days when I can't find a parking space... Not just in front of where I want to go but anywhere downtown. There are also days when there's a solitary car in the Family Shoe lot. Most days I'd say the lots and street are a third to half full.

      Same with people on the sidewalks. There are some days when the town is bustling. There are days when there isn't even tumbleweed in town. Most days I've seen 5-12 people walking around, probably waiting for Gastropub.

      So, yes, based on my informal survey, the town isn't ALWAYS empty. But for a vast majority of the the time it doesn't have the foot traffic it should. So my question is "why not?" and "what can be done to make downtown a vibrant community again?"

    3. @ Anon 2:02

      Actually, I took the pictures because I have seen such a dramatic decline this year in the presence of people downtown. I have been amazed. Never seen anything like this, in all my travels.

      I drive through downtown a lot. Every day when I'm here. Have for years now. I've seen the changes, first hand.

      Look back at those pictures, and think how hard it would be to get all those stores doorways with no one coming out, or going in, in a busy town. All the intersections, and time it just so no pedestrians are walking across the street, or cars driving through, in a busy town. The long lengths of sidewalks, where you can see all the way to the end on the roads, and time it so there are no people to be seen. Yeah, if it were busy and prosperous, you would never get all those things to happen, at once. No people coming out of stores, no people in the sidewalks as far as you can see, and no cars to be seen, all in one picture. And, a number of pictures from different vantage points all over downtown.

      But, I snapped all those pictures in minutes, after the Coho had just arrived.

      And, remember the pictures posted here of the same thing, the weekend of the Juan de Fuca Festival. Empty streets and sidewalks, in all directions.

      THAT should alarm any business person, or civic leader in this town.

      Now, if millions are not going to be spent to try to lure people to town, and the local business groups are happy with the state of things, then there is little to talk about.

      Port Angeles and Clallam can continue to cry poor, be labeled as "distressed", and continue to apply for charity from anyone who will listen.

      But, I don't think Revitalize does what it does because they think everything is fine. I don't think the City is doing what it is doing, because they think everything is fine. I don't think the business groups do what they do, because they think everything is fine.


    4. I've heard that Country Aire isn't doing too well, either.

  9. No, no, Tom. It's mourning in Port Angeles.

  10. There's that old cliché about the corrupt cop trying to cover up a crime scene by urging people to "Move along. There's nothing to see here. Move along."

    Port Angeles is a corrupt little town in which there is literally nothing to see.

    "Move along, move along..."

  11. Sad to see some people posting with the viewpoint that the pictures were contrived, instead of seeing the problem that anyone can see.

    How long do we need to live like this, before we stop being so damned stupid, and face the problems? Seeing people defend what is obviously very dysfunctional is beyond belief.

    No wonder things stay the same here. Year after year.

    1. Thanks to Tyler for his pictures, and thanks to CK for making them available for discussion. But pictures or no pictures, we all know that Port Angeles is in trouble, and that downtown, to say the least struggles to survive at all.

      I don't know how a town can have a ferry full of people dumped on their doorstep and, five minutes later, have NO ONE AT ALL on the streets. The ONP may be doing alright, but clearly Port Angeles itself has become some sort of anti-tourist sinkhole. Rather than draw people to town, we manage to repel them away, even when, as I said, they are literally dumped on our doorstep.

      It does no one any good to deny the depth of the problem. It only makes it worse. So thanks again for this posting, which at least allows some of us to have an honest conversation.

    2. We must decide if our little town wants to embrace tree-huggers or tree-cutters.
      Most of our tourist are tree huggers.
      Most of our council members are still in the tree-cutting mindset.
      Such dichotomy of mind will manifest in many ways until this is settled.

    3. All this talk about the downtown pics ignores the picture of the river - just like the city and city council have ignored water issues. Businesses may ebb and flow, as will there customers, but without water flowing to the town, it is in big, big, fatal trouble.

      But our council just sits back and hopes for the best. When prodded they have implemented halfhearted measures that are puny compared to the problem.

      But why spend money on water for people to drink when you can, for whatever reason (or no reason) spend tens of millions of dollars on the Turd Tank instead. Yes, surely that is a better use of ever-more limited city dollars.

  12. Hang on... Did I read this correctly? From the PDN's "second in a series about business in bloom! Whoo!"

    "Chamber of commerce officials won't call it the end of the recession — that actually started here with the Rayonier pulp mill's closure in 1997 — but they agree it's cause for hope."

    A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of zero or minus growth. Am I reading that Port Angeles has been in a recession for TWENTY YEARS?

    That's horrible. And that little nugget is buried discretely in a rah-rah style article?

    Anyone have any insight into this? Is this accurate?

    1. Uh, really, you have to ask? Look around...

    2. Oh it's not good, no question. But they are saying there hasn't been two consecutive quarters of growth... since 1997. That seems crazy, even for a place like Port Angeles.

    3. sounds accurate. It's been a low decline for a long time.

  13. You know who makes all the money? The court system with Ricky handing out his pay or appear fines to shoplifters who are usually poor and addicted to something. Unemployed and then branded after being in jail and cannot even get a job at McDonald's. Judge Porter boasts of his court's "revenue" and getting crime off the street. And apparently anyone else off the streets downtown.

  14. I was wondering, by comparison, how many businesses relocate, remodel, etc as per the PDN story, on any given year? We know the PDN states things that aren't true (like that headline recently about the grant the Port supposedly got) , and engages in blatant "rah-rah" fluff stories to make it appear that everything is wonderful in Port Angeles. So why should we accept the premise of this story?

    How many new businesses opened, old ones relocated, or existing ones remodeled in the area, last year? More? Less?

    As they say, consider the source.

    1. Exactly. I mean, if your roof is caving in, then you're going to "remodel" to get your roof fixed. It's not because business is booming, or you're doing well. It just means you want a roof that isn't caved in.

      Or, maybe when your roof caves in, you "relocate" your business, and the PDN thinks there's something to fete.

    2. Yes, they do not say how many businesses have folded because of the cost of rent from the old 3rd generation hand me down timber dudes that think their is worth much more than it actually is. What do they care? Revitalize that! Rex Wilson has retired to another planet and so should the PDN. Canadians own the paper and know this place sucks. Bremerton had an outspoken mayor who tried as well and did a pretty good job BTW. People can only try so hard until their head hurts from hitting the wall too much. Biggest mistake of my life moving here. At least when I got here there was a slot car track. Can't pay the bills looking at a lake. Jobs...huh? Work for the courts or Judge Porter...Stan Meyers.

  15. We'll hear that there has been a 38% increase in the "heads on beds", and the rah-rah folks will see this as some validation of their efforts. ( Never mind that it has been a record year for tourism in most places, and in that case, things should be "record setting" in Port Angeles, as well).

    Of course, no real analysis will be asked for, or required to use this as some kind of evidence of things "trending upwards". The physical realities of empty sidewalks, empty streets and business owners who say patronage has slowed, will be conveniently overlooked.

    And, as Summer turns to Fall, and Fall to Winter, we'll see how well these businesses do.

    Because, as we will hear, everything is just fine in Port Angeles. The numbers prove it.

  16. I've lived in a town of roughly the same size that worked har to boost its tourism appeal and now you practically cannot drive downtown without it taking forever because of all the tourists on the streets. They've had to bring in crossing guards to keep it manageable. THAT is what we SHOULD be seeing in Port Angeles - nobody can tell me everything is fine here...