Letters to the Editor

Regarding the proposed changes to the Critical Areas Ordinance

Regarding the proposed changes to the Critical Areas Ordinance:

There are two legs — uplands (mandated to update) and waterfront (optional for now). If the changes as proposed become law, both may have dramatic impacts to the use, enjoyment and value of one's property.

For the uplands, it depends on how close you are to what is considered to be a seasonal stream or wetland. For waterfront, it depends on the impact a 100-foot building setback or a freeze on all existing development within 100 feet of the shoreline will have for you.

Our marine waters on both sides of the border are being degraded from pollution sourced from industry, stormwater (from agriculture and population centers) and from toxic products we contribute via municipal sewage plants and failing septic systems which allow most chemical toxins to pass through.

Logically and relative to the daily deluge of toxins that are dumped into our waters, what percentage is being contributed from the newer homes built to current codes? Is a new house the problem?

Trying to polarize this issue as, dollars vs. the environment, is not fair. The vast majority of property owners alter their habits when they understand the need to do so and to think anything else is truly bigoted. If you used your creative forces and unrecoverable life energy to achieve such an investment, how would you feel? People have stopped buying waterfront land. How can we restore confidence? Think of the negative trickle down effect to our local economy.

What financial impact will a 100-foot shoreline setback have on a wooded waterfront lot or a lot with a little cabin on it? Huge! We are losing those whom can afford to implement new green techniques that are really starting to catch hold.

Our $3.7 billion of waterfront properties equals 47 percent of our total assessed value. A 1/3 loss of value equals $1.2 billion (not counting upland losses) which equals about $9.6 million that will have to be recovered via a higher levy mil rate for everyone.

As an alternative to beating up those who have chosen to invest in our community and ruining our little economy, we could blueprint a means of creating significant and measurable reductions in persistent toxins.

With the help of private funding, we could:

1) create a baseline of the toxins flowing into the sound via local sewage treatment plants,

2) use a creative and sustained educational campaign via simple drawings and bullet sentences via local media to demonstrate the links between what goes down the drain and the food chain, etc.

3) highlight the products that are the safest to use,

4) take measurements on a monthly basis to determine the effectiveness of the campaign.

If after a year we had accomplished even a 10 percent reduction in pollutants, we will have had way more impact on the actual health of our marine environment than 100-foot setbacks, leading to an even greater positive effect.

If a specific area is demonstrated to be critical habitat, may be organic standards could be required. It is not the location of the house; it is the habits, which will change with effective education.

Sam Buck
Friday Harbor

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