We think Roehl may be confused. The case against the CAOs should be simple, since the County didn't even ask the right questions. It's the CAOs themselves that are "complicated" ... and we might also add "unnecessary" to boot. Subjecting us to these CAOs is akin to subjecting us to ongoing, expensive, complicated, but completely unnecessary medical procedures. Should we undergo chemo therapy without having cancer? Some of our candidates might think so. It is baffling to hear Lovel Pratt run on her CAO record, for instance, just as it would be baffling to hear an overzealous doctor brag about giving patients unnecessary colorectal resections. And we don't have to pre-judge Pratt (or Jamie Stephens) about being overzealous for pointless regulation -- we can judge them instead. Their vote is in the record, and they voted to have this County endure completely unnecessary and painful "precautions."
It is equally condemning to hear Lisa Byers say:
I believe that we do need regulations to protect our environment. That is a consequence of having more people. I believe that the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) passed by the county council last December was a valid attempt, within the requirements of existing state law, to find a way to allow property owners as much flexibility as possible. However, it is important with any regulation that we understand how it works in real life. We need to gather case studies of on-the-ground experience, and then make changes to improve the application and predictability of regulations.Byers has her logic completely backwards because it is important to gather evidence (case studies) to assess whether regulations are needed in the first place, not to justify them ex-post. And if we are going to dole out regulations because of population, then it would seem that OPAL's per capita share of the regulatory burden should be very heavy indeed, since it houses 5% of the population of Orcas and 15% of its school children.
Byers also says:
It is very important to me that government officials recognize that uncertainty has a significant detrimental effect on business and residential development. The length of time that it took this county to get through the required update to the Critical Areas Ordinance is a case in point. Nine years is too long. The uncertainty had very real economic costs.This comment is the identical comment repeated numerous times by Stephanie Buffum of the Friends. Byers is channeling Buffum here. In response, all we can say is that the CAOs are a veritable playground of uncertainty. Uncertainty increased with CAO passage, since CDPD, the Friends, and practically anyone else is right in the middle of your life now, if they want to be. Talk about economic impacts -- why would anyone invest in property when, as an owner, you have so little control over your investment?
As if to drive home this last point, earlier this week Shireene Hale sent out CDPD-prepared handouts to realtors to help them explain the CAOs to their clients. These "simple" handouts (too long to include here) spanned 11 full pages of 12 pt font! They included dozens of helpful bullet points that say things like the following:
There are recommendations, and in some cases requirements, for protecting the habitat of specific plants and animals. These regulations generally apply within 200 feet of protected habitats, but extend to 1,000 ft. for golden eagle nests, and to ¼ mile for peregrine falcon and great blue heron nests. Maps of known locations, photos of protected plants and animals, and protection provisions are described in handouts available on the above County web page.That kind of certainty oughta really help the economics of the real estate market, don'tcha think?
Lastly, as an epilogue to the previous post, commenters have asked for information on who's who in the email in the last post. Here is a quick rundown.
Dick Grout is on the Byers Campaign Committee, and he has been discussed in earlier posts on this blog. He was our County Planning Director when we first opted to fully plan under the GMA back in 1990, and according to some reports, he was an enthusiastic advocate for opting in. After leaving the County, he headed up the Bellingham office of the Department of Ecology, retiring about a year ago. He was a finalist for County Administrator back in 2006, which was a bit controversial since he did not seem to have gone through the same vetting process as the other candidates. Byers and Pratt were both on the citizen committee providing input on Administrator candidates back then. Some believe that Dick Grout may yet become our County Manager, if Pratt and Byers get elected.
Scott Boye is the former Membership Director of the Friends and a former Board member of the San Juan Community Home Trust.
Janet Brownell is on the Byers Campaign Committee and is the former legislative liaison for the Orcas School District. She's married to Lance Evans who is a Land Bank Commissioner.