You start by asking for something outrageous; when that's turned down, you then ask for something reasonable. A boss may ask an employee to work weekends for a whole year, for example, and when that request gets turned down, the manager might ask for a report to be turned in by Friday. The outrageous request reframes the real request to make it sound reasonable.And so it goes with buffers in the San Juan County CAO. During various forums, there has been talk of buffers as large as 800 feet. Then, the Planning Commission draft of the CAOs had buffers up to 260 feet. These "outrageous" requests were tweaked to something more "reasonable"... 230 feet. Nevertheless, we still hear the Friends wanting more from buffers. Janet Alderton ended her most recent CAO paean with the un-paean-like punchline:
But the numerous activities permitted in buffers by the proposed Critical Area Ordinance update interfere with buffer function and fail to protect our valuable Critical Areas.In other words, consider yourselves lucky, peasants, that you're getting any use of your land at all. You should feel grateful! Never mind that no one can seem to adequately quantity or explain what "buffer function" actually means anyway.
The difficulty with all this "reasonableness" is that the purpose of buffers has been completely lost amidst the bazaar haggling over their size. We don't even know what we're haggling over anymore. What are buffers for? To reduce pollution? What pollution? Paraphrasing Jerry Maguire, show me the pollution. Show me the pollution!
Without de manifestis levels of pollution, there is no need for a remedy. Without a need for a remedy, there is no need for pollution-removing buffers, assuming buffers work at all as a primary pollutant remedy, and it's not clear that they do. It turns out that our own County consultant, Dr. Adamus, wasn't even able to describe how buffers work exactly. He declined to explain, for example, the statistics in the Mayer paper on pollutant removal, which formed the basis for the buffer calculator he developed.
We can land a plutonium-powered rover on Mars using a crazy sky-crane contraption and nail the landing within a couple of miles of the target, but we can't get our highly-compensated wetland consultant to explain buffer statistics in the paper he used for our buffer design.
Does that sound reasonable?