Opinion

Critics ignore basic economics | Letters

In recent letters, the opponents of the critical areas ordinance (CAO) claim that the market value of non-conforming properties will be reduced if the proposed changes to the CAO are implemented.

I take exception to this claim for three fundamental reasons.

First: opponents present no rationale for their claim.

They apparently believe all they have to do is state it and their claim will be true. This is not good enough for me and other thoughtful readers.

Second: various forms of non-conforming status under existing land use laws and building codes have been in existence in our county for about 25 years.

What has happened to property values during this period? Values certainly haven’t declined, or their growth curtailed.

Why should it be any different in the future under the proposed changes to the CAO?

Third: I take exception  because opponents of the CAO have ignored the most basic tenant of economics — the “law of supply and demand”.

Under this economic model, the value of existing and new non-conforming properties should actually increase as tighter restrictions are implemented on new construction in critical areas and their buffers.

Why? Because with rare exceptions, there will be no more construction of new structures within these areas.

Given the resulting limitation on new supply, values of non-conforming properties within the proposed critical areas and buffers should increase.

The owners of these properties should — ironically — indirectly benefit from the CAO.

Richard W. Hobbs

San Juan Island

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