Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tourism Anyone?

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.


  1. When I was doing lots of cruising in the San Juan Islands, I and my companions on the boat would hug the shore to look at houses there. People who can afford waterfront property have money or history on their side, and often can afford to hire talented architects to execute cutting-edge designs or "beach houses" with extraordinary detail. They're always interesting and usually a pleasure to see and subject to curbside criticism.

    Later, when I built houses, some of which were on waterfront properties, I began to notice a common occurrence: boats going by would slow and turn toward the shore to watch the progress. It was always my hope that my houses, to borrow a hackneyed cliche', were a gift to the cruisers.

  2. In fairness, it is only the MAJORITY of the Planning Commission (plus our resident nanny-planner) that seek to characterize ALL of our shorelines as "critical"--Susan Dehlendorf of San Juan (who apparently has forgotten that she is no longer chair), Bob Gamble of Orcas, Barbara Thomas of Lopez, Steven Adams of Lopez, and Karin Agosta of San Juan. Think any of their neighbors will wake up to what's going on and tell them what people living down here in the real world think?

    Apparently, every bug, every leaf, every drop of water, is needed for the orcas--it's TRUE--a PLANNER told us!! No science, of course, but--wait, STOP ASKING QUESTIONS! We are being led by highly-qualified professionals, right?

    The law says we must designate "critical areas," but we'll go WAY beyond THAT and designate everything "critical" and some lucky people's property "SUPER-critical." Take that, you folks who bought land here and are saving up to build your dream homes--you thought that the Planning Commission or the law would protect you, too? Can't you see how despoiled our islands are? Can't you see that the only solution to the problem is having all humans (with the exception of a few "friends" of the earth) leave the islands?