At the town hall meeting on October 9th, Council incumbents Howie Rosenfeld and Lovel Pratt defended the CAO update, the land use debacle they’ve championed that’s dividing the county and threatening to bury it in lawsuits.
1. “Nothing’s broken, but we must fix it.” Howie and Lovel argued that because the San Juans’ natural environment “is pristine” (a term they often repeated… and a credit to current regulations), it follows that land use rules must be massively overhauled. The CAO update may be an illogical, arbitrary and intrusive solution untraceable to any problem, but, if one loves pristine nature, evidently, one’s obliged to support it.
2. “The GMA made us do it.” Not true. The GMA required nothing like the multi-year, multi-million-dollar process we’ve suffered. The Council let islanders down, abdicated to special interests, has given the views of DOE, Puget Sound Partnership, San Juan Initiative, Friends and tribes greater weight than the rights and welfare of local citizens.
3. “What economic impact?” Asked if the county had done an analysis of the economic impact of the CAO update, Lovel replied that the county wasn’t required to do one. Oh? Marc Forlenza took an hour or two to interview local bankers and the county auditor who confirmed that there would be big negative impacts. With over half of all county properties affected (a number approaching ten thousand), conceivably hundreds of millions of dollars of property value could be lost. But we don’t know.
This Council clearly doesn’t want to know. Based on their comments at the town hall meeting, I think that electing Marc Forlenza and Bob Jarman is essential to refocus the Council on putting islanders’ concerns first.
Scott Webster/San Juan Island