Saturday, August 18, 2012

Countdown To CAOmageddon: Flaw #16 - Antithesis of Critical

If you haven't seen the comments prepared by attorney Sandy Mackie for P.J. Taggares, you can download it here. It is 11 pages of wonderfully clear thinking. Mr. Mackie dismantles the County's proposed Fish & Wildlife Habitat CAO as it relates to his client's property.

There are many big, important points made, but I think my favorite is a sublime point about the Comprehensive Plan. Mackie alludes to the fact that our proposed CAOs are in conflict with County zoning. For example, the Land Use Element to our Comprehensive Plan says the following about "rural lands."
Goal: To maintain and enhance the rural character of the County. Rural lands are intended to retain the agricultural, pastoral, forested, and natural landscape qualities of the islands while providing people with choices of living environments at lower densities or use intensities than those in Activity Centers. Rural lands also include the Special Districts, which are discussed further in Section B.2.4.
And it says the following about "resource lands" (i.e., agricultural and forestry land).
Goal: To recognize and protect the physical conditions and characteristics of agricultural and forest resource lands which are conducive to the use of such lands for long-term commercial production.
And it says the following about "conservancy land."
Goal: To protect, conserve, and manage existing natural conditions, resources, and valuable historic, scenic, educational, or scientific research areas for the benefit of existing and future generations without precluding compatible human uses. 
As you can see, the goals for our zoning include "use," "choice," even "enhancement" of our country way of life (i.e., "maintain and enhance the rural character"). Not even "conservancy land" requires restoration or a return to pre-existing conditions. It requires only protection of "existing natural conditions."

Lands have to be zoned as "natural" before preference is given to native plant and animal species.
Goal: To preserve indigenous plant and animal species and ecosystems in a natural state for the benefit of existing and future generations.
How on earth does the Land Use Element of the Comprehensive Plan square with the County's ambitions for the proposed CAOs? The answer is that they don't square, and the CAO effort is unmasked for what it really is:  an attempt to re-designate property as "natural" via the back door, taking away legally zoned uses in the process. The CAOs are a heavy-handed overlay district that obliterates the underlying zoning.

Mackie points out:
But a review of the present master program shows that none of the Taggares properties are designated natural. Rather they are urban or rural, both of which reflect active development and use, which is the antithesis of a natural or critical area.
Sometimes a couple of sentences can say so much, such as pointing out the gulf of inconsistency between our CAOs and the controlling document that is supposed to govern them, the Comprehensive Plan.


  1. Did Ms. Dehlendorf and her dynamic husband really understand the implications of pushing their Straw Poll on the Planning Commission? Now the County Council has to deal with the law because the Planning Commission, by a narrow controlling majority of anti-community activists, chose to ignore it, using a maneuver prohibited by Robert's Rules of Order? The CAO is not about the environment. It is about authoritarian political control over our lives.

  2. Even the preamble to the San Juan County Comprehensive Plan is dismissed - what is SJC working toward? Not independence, privacy, and personal freedom, as promised in the preamble. "PREAMBLE -
    WE THE PEOPLE of San Juan County recognize that these rural islands are an extraordinary treasure of natural beauty and abundance,
    and that independence, privacy and personal freedom are values prized by islanders. Being a diverse people bound together by these
    shared values, we declare our commitment to work towards this vision of the San Juan Islands in 2020 A.D."

  3. Maybe the purpose of the CAO is to sort of "update" our Comp Plan?

    That was a nice vision statement wasn't it? Kept the little people quiet and distracted. But a more progressive CAO can't be tied down to that old time out of date Comp Plan that just no longer fits the modern world, can it? No, the Comp Plan needs to adapt itself to the CAO, a product of better minds, outside interests and a hell of a lot more money.

    As the Planning Commission Cabal likes to assure us: "We'll all feel better when this is over."

  4. Have our County Council brought up during their discussion of the CAO any of the minority reports from the Planning Commission?