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Working folk in peril under new CAO rules | Letter
The San Juan Builder’s Association supports good community planning.
Our island’s environment, our quality of life, and our community social structure are exceptional. The San Juan Islands are a treasure. The county’s Vision Statement, (the preamble to the county’s GMA-approved Comprehensive Plan), the GMA’s 14 planning elements and the current SJC Shoreline Master Program are a reasonable combination of rules which are sustaining our island way of life.
Experience shows that our citizens, working families, and small businesses, generally do the best they can to follow the rules.
Sometimes they may not understand the fine points of the ever-changing county requirements or may not be financially capable of dealing with the ever increasing county demands for various fees, “professional” studies, expensive permits and a blizzard of bureaucratic nonsense.
The latest Orcas dust up over wetlands, permits, the “Friends”, and county officials is a good example.
For their part, the Friends of the San Juans don’t seem to care what their aggressive agenda is doing to our island community. Originally. the Friends were formed to advocate for a balanced comprehensive plan and our unique community vision; what happened?
By embracing an activist agenda, bullying citizens, and through their behind the scenes lobbying, they have lost their way and they have lost community support.
Just as the Friends have lost sight of their original purpose, the county has lost sight of its obligation to provide clear planning rules and basic permitting at affordable prices and most important, providing non-confrontational help to those who are having trouble navigating the county’s system. County officials with secure positions, good monthly salaries, and benefits seem to forget that in the private sector, many businesses and workers are struggling.
Even professional contractors have a hard time keeping up with all the changes and new requirements. Now contractors, builders, those in the trades and suppliers have even bigger worries; what does the future hold if the council passes its new critical areas ordinance?
It appears that to the council and their planners, our businesses and employees are expendable.
Terry Gillespie, Orcas Island
— Editor’s note: the above letter was submitted by Mr. Gillespie in his role as president of San Juan Builders Association