I know ... I know ... I haven't posted in a while. I apologize, but I needed to attend to some pressing matters.
While I was away, there was another meeting about the Fish & Wildlife Habitat CAO. There was a joint meeting between the Planning Commission and the Council on May 18, 2012 and another Planning Commission Meeting on the FWHCAO on May 25, 2012. The next Planning Commission meeting on the FWHCAO will be on June 7.
Several interesting items came up during these meetings. During the May 25, 2012 meeting, the Planning Commission took a "straw poll" (whatever that means) to indicate their intention to designate all shoreline areas as critical areas. This despite the fact that even the research of the Friends of the San Juans suggests only 11 miles of our 400+ mile long coastline constitute forage-fish spawning sites. Nevertheless, the Planning Commission wants all 400 miles to be critical, and because the shorelines are critical, the Planning Commission wants all streams that flow to shorelines to be critical. Of course, using that logic, every bit of of the universe could eventually be "linked" to something else in the universe that was already deemed critical. Everything therefore is, or could be, critical. That's probably the intent of the Friends and their friends on the Planning Commission anyway. Using language worthy of Napoleon and Squealer, they want to designate everything as critical, with some areas just being more critical than others.
On May 18, we also witnessed Stephanie Buffum speaking up for the contribution that tourism makes to our local economy. She claimed that it was $50 million per year. Many people believe the Friends are anti-development, but they really aren't. They are big supporters of transportation corridors and tourism development. They support the Scenic Byway designation, for example, which reportedly has been used in some of the Friends' complaints against property owners. In other words, the Friends have claimed various docks or other structures cause a "visual impact" on the Scenic Byway. Also, various members of the Friends are often heard to complain about visitors being able to see the homes of residents, especially from the shorelines. Yes, the Friends are big supporters of the tourism experience, and in the Friends' minds, the daily lives of average residents are really ugly for our visitors (and their donors) to look at.
If that attitude were just among the Friends that would be one thing, but this anti-resident/pro-tourist attitude seems to be pervasive in our County government too. Every day, life becomes harder for average residents, but the land-use juggernaut that is remaking the County into a park-like eco-tourist destination, and essentially only a park-like eco-tourist destination, picks up steam. In the end, we might have nothing but eco-tourists, a few wealthy people, and legions of soft-science environmental researchers living off of grants (and probably living in high-density affordable housing too), while our community will have no tax base to speak of to support anything more than planners, enforcement officers, and stormwater specialists. It feels like this plan has been predestined for years.
In a way, "they" are right because this approach to our community development ultimately will mean everything is critical.