Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hoist With Her Own Petard

By now, word is out about Vivien Burnett. She is the Board member of the Friends of the San Juans who was caught by CDPD having an illegal guesthouse on her property. Like nearly everyone associated with the Friends, Vivien has been very outspoken against "development."
Who wasn’t there on the panel to add to the one-sided dialog? The orcas, the eelgrass, the heron, the smelt, the sand lances, the trees, the water, the salmon and more. They couldn't stand up for themselves to protect their lives. They weren’t invited ...  All the wildlife is affected by what we humans do. We think we’re just building a house with a great view.” -Vivien Burnett, (7/14/09)
You can watch Vivien speaking out against Charles Dalton here. She says:
The main thing I want to say is that we wouldn't be here if Mr. Dalton and his partners had followed the rule of law.  We all have to follow the rule of law, and if he did that in the beginning, we wouldn't even be having this conversation.
You can watch George Lawson, Friends Board President, speaking out against land use scofflaws here.  He says:
It's up to you ... when you see a violation of environmental regulations of the County and as a lover of the environment to assume your citizenship responsibilities and communicate that to the County and follow it up.
The newsletter of the Friends has said the following:
Friends staff and board routinely receive complaint calls about potential code violations. Once contacted, Friends helps concerned citizens determine the appropriate next steps and often notify the County and other permitting agencies like the Department of Ecology, Fish and Wildlife, or the Army Corp of Engineers.

San Juan County Community Development and Planning Department and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office are working on a ticketing ordinance for land use violations. The goal of the ordinance is to prevent violations, and recover the cost of enforcement when action is necessary. Penalties are seen as one of the most effective prevention tools.
But I think there is an angle to this story that isn't quite captured by the mere fact that Vivien Burnet said one thing and did another.  From about 1999 until 2006, the CAO-like controversy of the day was the unfolding ADU/guesthouse fiasco. The Friends led the fight against guesthouses, apoplectically shooting down opposition with withering eco-sanctimonious criticism. They lectured; they postured; they alarmingly claimed we would "double the density," and the Friends newsletter bandied about population projections that said our county population would soar to as much as 57,000, although currently we have only about 16,000 people on approximately 17,000 parcels.

Back then, county residents even voted 73.5% in favor of guesthouses, a level of approval equaled only by initial support for the Land Bank. Nevertheless, the Friends maneuvered legally. They sued. They filed with the Growth Mangement Hearings Board. They asked for compliance orders. They won. They rammed the law restricting ADUs/guesthouses down our throats. That law, more than any other law to date, should probably bear the honorary title, "Friends of the San Juans Land Use Prohibition Law."

Yes, given her position, I believe it is hypocritical for Vivien Burnet to deliberately violate a land use law. Yes, it is hard for me to believe that the rest of the Friends didn't know about it, especially when they seemed to be very good at surveillance against Charles Dalton.

But Vivien Burnett didn't just break any old land use law. She broke THAT law, the ADU/guesthouse law.  That takes it way beyond hypocrisy into its own separate realm of Shakespearean duplicity.


  1. Like the sanctimonious preacher caught in bed with the church secretary. Coming this fall on COmedy Central,Tales of San Juan County. It will have you ROFL.

  2. More vintage Vivien:

    "Please urge our County Council to go forward with this Ordinance. Don't be fooled by the Common Sense Alliance (CSA), The Freedom Foundation, the Orcas Eagle Forum, the Lopez Birds, Citizens Alliance for Property Rights (CAPR).

    They all have at least one thing in common: They oppose government spending that prohibits what they view as their "personal freedom" – which means they want permission to build what they want, where they want, how they want, when they want - without regard of their neighbors or their environment.

    Vivien Burnett

  3. What is the over/under on number of days until a sincere apology forthcoming from Ms. Burnett.

    Ironic is a diabetic getting run over by a insulin delivery truck. I don't even know what this is.

  4. On a separate note, I would like to conduct an informal survey, here, via the THB. Please post your answer of either A, or B, depending on which view you subscribe to. Feel free to offer any support arguements for your opinion.


    (A) The lead planner in the CAO is simply incompentent, arrogant, and unashamedly pushing a radical left wing environmental adgenda on the citizens of SJC who don't want it, or....

    (B) Our lead planner of the CAO is actually much more sinister in her role, representing a manchurian like agent planted here by the purveyors of ADGENDA 21 and that it's implementation has already begun???

    Choose wisely and post your A or B choice.

  5. Answer B and they don't even know they are playing into that game.

  6. Aw, come on--it's A. Agenda 21 makes a lot more sense than the draft CAO.

  7. How bout we have a "write Vivian's apology" essay contest....

  8. Come on folks. Let's be realistic here. This is a great opportunity to truly take the moral high ground and do the right think.

    I think it is clear that we should file a complaint with the Friends of the San Juans. They need to be involved in this and help bring this environmentally destructive culprit to justice.

    This will be great chance for the FOSJ to show us that they truly represent everyone in pursuit of maintaining a pristine island.

  9. I disagree. I believe all of the so called friends live a double standard. They've got theirs and want to shut the door. I think it is an opportunity to continue disarming the FOSJ and to degrade their support. That sounds so negative even as I write it but they now seem to me to be very self involved as individuals and as a group.
    Ms. Burnett is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak.
    And I can say this w/some authority as a sixth generation islander. Believe me, I understand the urge to shut the door. But unless I buy all the land the door is open.

  10. I vote to turn the San Juan Islands into a National Zoo. This way the citizens, I mean inhabitants, can be properly managed.

    1. Well, if the National Monument actinides have their way, we'll all be "inholders" soon--the Monument" covers more than the whole County. Then the federal bureaucrats start with the restrictions.


    I don't look for an apology from Ms. Burnett, she is not different that hundreds of other Islanders having kitchens and toilets and people paying rent while living in dwellings with International Code violations. No, Ms. Burnett is not special. As an everyday Islander, she is as common as dirt.

    What does make Ms. Burnett a problem child is her support and association with an organization bent on social destruction, an organization that having upset thousands of quiet households with its "guesthouse" atomic, now seeks to do even further damage to the lives of Islanders with a premeditated attack on what they hold dearest; their land, their home.

    Perhaps even more destructive and certainly the most frightening is: "Who ratted on dear Vivian?" Certainly we all have neighbors who break the "rules" and we all look the other way because we know they can't afford a new 18K septic system, we know they need the rent from the shack out back, the room over the barn, the summer rental that isn't. You all know what I'm talking about. Live and let live!

    So now it is obvious the really awful thing about the organization Ms. Burnett is involved with is their development of social destruction. They rejoice in turning people in for violations of ridiculous rules and as much as anyone with a lick of humanity would dislike Ms. Burnett, I don't think we need to join in this social destruction. Few are perhaps as deserving as little Vivian, but once it starts, where does it stop? If this is truly a rotten bunch of people, don't be one of them!

  12. Bravo! Well said!

  13. Who turned in Vivian?

    Former tenant, former CDPD employee Francine Shaw.

    Yes, an employee of land use attorney Stephanie O'Day turned in Vivian. I hope ya'all got your own house in order.

  14. Holy Shit! Perhaps even a veteran County employee,(lucky to be gone) like Francine found the hypocrisy too much to take.

    But what of Ms Burnett's current tenant? Thrown out on a moments notice? These people renting hundreds of such units are an asset to the community and have done nothing wrong. Likely, most have no clue they are living in an "illegal" situation. Of course County rules pit one "law breaker" against another wherein there is always an obscure rule that is being broken by somebody or everybody! You rat me out at your own risk is the mantra. How sick is that? All of this nonsense needs to end.

    Lets clean house! Let's have lots of votes and throw out the garbage put on the books by the FRIENDS.

    The CAO revision is dead with a capital D. Put it in the recycle bin council people, it is history just like you are.

  15. The lefties in San Juan County are lightweights. What you guys really need is someone with the zeal of Peter Douglas:

  16. Ms. Burnett has "justified" her actions in an interview with the San Juan Islander: she didn't know about the rules; she has been trying to comply with the law--she just needs her neighbors to sell her some land that they don't seem interested in parting with; and SHE has determined that SHE is not harming the environment. All I can say is REALLY? You are on the Board of the Friends and weren't aware of the very guesthouse rules that the Friends maneuvered for so long to have imposed upon us? You are the person who castigated Mr. Dalton in a public meeting on Orcas WHILE you were breaking the law. Incredible.

  17. The bottom line is that Vivien Burnett, a self appointed keeper of the land use laws in San Juan County, is a hypocrit. She says one thing and does another. Who cares who turned her in. I don't. She was first turned in for an illegal accessory dwelling unit back in the early 2000s. This is not new news to her.

    Vivien cannot plead ignorance. She knew long ago she couldn't have a guest house. Why would anybody fall for her "poor me" scenario. What a joke!

    But what's worse is the Friends of the San Juans is just as hyprocritical for not asking for her resignation. They need to do the right thing and make sure their borad members represent what they stand for or else they will (and have because of Vivien's antics)lost credibility. I, for one, would think twice before donating my money to this cause.

  18. Reasons for NOT donating to the Friends:

    (1) you already do--your tax dollars at work, employing an executive director, a "science director" AND a lawyer who have all the time in the world to go to meetings and screw up people's lives

    (2) rampant hypocrisy

    (3) sanctimony

    (4) you'd have to buy one of those affected fleece vests (or get one "free" from the Puget Sound Partnership

  19. I hope that Vivian hires the Freedom Foundation to sue the pants off the county. She's been wronged by over regulation! shame on the government for creating such stupid requirements for life safety and the protection of personal property. Those lefty commies will probably want to abolish the police too.