Letter – Land Capacity Analysis flawed

Growth management planning, i.e. preserving rural lands and concentrating growth in towns, seemed like a good idea at the time and, versus not planning, it still does. The devil is in the details.

Discouraging sprawl, concentrating growth in towns and making adequate provision for affordable housing, however, is an economic nonsequitur. Concentrating growth makes land scarce and expensive. Fortunately, growth management has produced a methodology to assess the demand for and supply of developable land in our towns, Eastsound and Friday Harbor. San Juan County is applying that technology, Draft Land Capacity Analysis Methodology, to Eastsound but, apparently, not in Friday Harbor.

That is unfortunate because under growth management, counties have the ultimate authority to determine population figures and determine urban growth boundaries, reading v Thurston Co. 94-2-0019.

It is important because, in order to discourage sprawl, San Juan County has stipulated that it will allocate 50 percent of growth to UGAs. Yet the Friday Harbor Population and Land Supply Report has its own methodology which fails to acknowledge that county Ordinance 16-2009 allocates 50 percent of San Juan Island population to the Friday Harbor UGA or the nonresident recreational home growth in this county has exceeded 200 percent of resident population home growth for the past decade and must be accounted for as well.

In short, San Juan County must analyze the Friday Harbor UGA Land Capacity with the same methodology as they use for Eastsound if the county expects to be compliant with GMA with respect to: encouraging growth in UGAs, discouraging sprawl and making adequate provision for affordable housing.

John M. Campbell

Orcas Island