Letters to the Editor

Leave it to the bureaucrats

Some San Juan County residents are concerned about the ease with which the County Council majority is passing their responsibility for upland and shoreline planning to the state’s Department of Ecology, the Department of Commerce, the department of Fish and Wildlife and the ubiquitous Puget Sound Partnership’s Local Integrating Organization, (LIO).

When citizens have objected to the state agency guidance that leads to a non-conforming-use status for many upland and most shoreline homes, the council dismisses the objections as complaints by selfish property owners or the expressions of uninformed citizens.

The council chairman has publicly berated citizens who, during the council’s “public access time,” asked the council to clearly show when and where existing regulations are not working before additional restrictions are imposed on island residents.

Citizens realize it is impossible to have meaningful local input or a serious bottoms-up planning process if the County Council signs on to the pre-packaged agendas promoted by state bureaucrats.

The purpose of the Puget Sound Partnership’s LIO is to implement the Partnership’s Action Agenda. The council majority is signing on to a one-sided process that gives the treaty tribes with commercial fishing interests equal voting rights with council representatives. The LIO is supported by an internalized network of environmental advocacy groups. Private property owners, working families, local employers and the general population of the islands are not represented.

Citizens expect local elected officials to stand up for our island’s residents. We all share common interest in protecting the quality of life we enjoy in the islands. A healthy environment is important. So is a healthy economy, respect for individual property owners and a common sense approach to regulations by local government.

Our citizens deserve a local plan that truly balances all 14 elements of community planning as required by the Growth Management Act. We expect a comprehensive plan that is based on local conditions, with a foundation of peer-reviewed environmental science, and relevant social science and economic analysis that is specific to conditions in rural San Juan County.

John Evans
Doe Bay
Orcas Island

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