Monday, March 19, 2012

Lovel 9000? Thank You Again For Your Email!

Compare the replies below that were received by Deborah Strasser, whose comments to the Council were posted here a few days ago. Also, bear in mind that Lovel was reportedly very pleased with the Planning Commission's relatively minor changes to the much criticized wetlands CAO draft.

One of the readers of this blog mentioned to me that corresponding with Ecology, the Council, County staff, and the Planning Commission seems like a conversation with HAL, the primary antagonist in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

When hardly anyone in government really seems to "get it" regarding the good points raised by citizens, the comparison doesn't seem far off. Sometimes, I almost expect to hear, "I'm sorry, Dave.  I'm afraid I can't do that. This mission is far too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it. This conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye."

Judge for yourself. Are we all stuck in the pod? Or, maybe we should take a stress pill and think things over.

Hi Debbie,
Thank you for your email to the Council on the CAO update – and thank you for taking the time to attend and watch meetings and read the comments and letters.

I will give you my responses to your concerns and I would also be happy to meet and talk further with you about this.

1.       Dr. Adamus is a highly qualified wetland scientist and wildlife biologist.  He was hired by SJC – at the urging of citizens and groups such as the Common Sense Alliance – to prepare a new countywide wetlands map using recent aerial imagery, LiDAR topographic imagery, the new soils map and the earlier wetland maps.  Dr. Adamus has not conducted any nitrogen studies or other studies in SJC.  I think you may be referring to studies that are included in the Best Available Science Synthesis (adopted in May 2011).
2.       It was actually Councilmember Miller who identified language in the January 24, 2012 draft of the General Section of the CAO update included language that could be interpreted to require review of even small excavation and vegetation removal projects.  The Council unanimously clarified on February 28th that prior to the CAO update adoption the Council will review and revise this section to ensure that it does not impose unnecessary requirements for activities that do not otherwise require a permit or review.

Agricultural activities in critical areas are being addressed in both the CAO update and through the Voluntary Stewardship Program.  I would be happy to answer any questions and/or talk with you more about this component of the CAO update process.

FYI here is a link to the FAQs:

I think it is important to understand the state laws that required the adoption of the current CAO in 1991 and that require the current update process.  I know that the CAO update is extremely difficult and frustrating for all involved and I hope that we can work through the update process with open and civil communications.  We are all – whether county residents or planning commissioners or councilmembers or county staff or property owners or property owner rights advocates or environmental rights advocates – engaged in this process with the best interests of our community as our focus.  With open and civil communication we can better understand the differences in our perspectives and better work towards the adoption of the CAO update.  I am doing my best to find a balance that makes sense for our community within the state’s CAO requirements.

I really appreciate the perspective and insights you bring to this process as a life-long resident of SJI.  I am especially interested in any of your specific suggestions for changes to the draft Wetlands Section as the Council will soon be considering that.

Thank you again for your email!

Lovel Pratt
San Juan County Council, District 1
Office: 55 Second St. N., 1st floor
Phone: 360-370-7473
Mail: 350 Court Street, No. 1, Friday Harbor, WA 98250

Dear Ms. Strasser:
Thank you for your email regarding the CAO update.  It's good to have responses from you and all of the other citizens who have become very involved in this process.  I share many of the concerns you expressed and hope that before we are through with this effort that we will revisit the main task before us which is to review our existing regulations and, if there is compelling reason to modify any of them, to proceed accordingly.  We will need to keep in mind the Growth Management Act Planning Goals and those from our Comprehensive Plan which should provide guidance and balance to the ultimate outcome.
I, too, have become concerned about the accuracy and conclusions drawn from the Best Available Science (BAS), that would be the basis for the major changes recommended to our existing regulations.  I also believe that some of the recommended changes have nothing to do with BAS, and are, rather, policy decisions that could become very destructive to our local economy and well-being. 
While I believe that all of the parties involved are making a sincere effort, so far the results, in my mind, have been excessive, very complicated, and unnecessarily restrictive.  I hope, as this process proceeds, that you will stay involved and provide your views on the individual elements that we will be discussing as we near the final stage of this process.
I would be happy to talk with you about any of your concerns about the CAO update.
Rich Peterson, 2nd District County Council Member

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