Monday, November 30, 2015

Shoreline Master Plan Update

This post comes to us by way of Merri Ann Simonson of Caldwell Banker in Friday Harbor.

As you may be aware, the Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) went into effect in March 2014. The Shoreline Master Program (SMP) has been in the update process for the last few years and is currently out for public comment until December 8, 2015. Then it will be sent on to the Department of Ecology for their comments and then back to our County for final revisions.

The Council is holding continued public hearings on December 2, 3 and 4th this week in Friday Harbor. They'll take comments on Lopez December 1st and on Orcas on December 8th.

It is expected that the SMP may be in effect as early as spring of 2016. Many of the proposed regulations as contained in the SMP were established in the CAO or at least precedence set.

It appears that the non-conforming regulation currently in effect under the WAC will be updated in the SMP. The existing formula that regulates how much you can increase the size of an existing non-conforming home on the waterfront or near a wetland is not included in the proposed SMP. In my opinion, the draft SMP language to address a non-conforming home remodel is more discretionary on the part of the Planners during their decision process.

The proposed language is more relaxed as there appears to be no limit on the size that the non-conforming home can be increased. However, you must propose mitigation measures to address any potential negative impacts to the critical areas. This requirement will have to be met by retaining professionals to prepare reports acceptable to the County

A legally non-conforming structure is defined as one that is out of compliance with the current regulations, but was in conformance at the time of its construction. For example, a home that is 35 feet from the shoreline versus the current setback as required by the CAO, is considered a non-conforming structure.

In order to expand an existing non-conforming structure under the current regulation and formula, you will need to obtain a building permit prior to the effective date of the SMP. A Residential Pre Approval is not binding and will not survive a regulation change.

If you are the owner of a non-conforming structure and are contemplating a remodel or expansion, you should review the existing regulation as well as proposed. I have attached links below; one to the current non-conforming regulation and one to the PROPOSED language in the SMP. If you believe that the proposed regulation will be more difficult to comply with than the existing, I would not delay your application for a permit.





  1. As usual, all this new regulation makes most of us shoreline people want to warm up the chain saw. We never cared, and we did small, very small, insults to the shoreline we live on, but when threatened, as any normal folk, we get upset, and do what we can to climb under the new wire.

    It is really quite simple. All this required new regulation has accelerated and, I think, probably damaged the shoreline more than the idiots in the DOE ever dreamed.

    Yes, you turkeys it is totally and completely your fault it things aren't just f-ing perfect.

    1. So true. Have seen this happen alot over the years. Cumbersome regulations that strive for perfection are not constructive. Bigger buffers are not better ones.

  2. More rules? Awesome.
    Instead of trying to regulate every aspect of our not-so-free live why can't we focus on encouraging economic growth so the kids on Orcas don't have to paw through mounds of trash in hopes of finding a better tomorrow?
    Rick? Maybe you can pull your face out of the bottle for a moment and do your job.
    Distilleries seem to be popular, you think your drunk ass would at least get excited for that.

  3. @8:19
    Can we lay off the whole "Rick is a raging-sleeps-in-his-own-puke-nightly-alcoholic-disappointing-does-what-Jamie-says-failure" none sense please.

    1. Amen. We got the joke the first 10,000 times it was used. Spare us from anymore please.

  4. There are so many "if" and "buts" I can't figure out what the shoreline set back under the new CAO is. I know I need to read more, golly, there is only a zillion pages to the CAO, so thanks to the TH for providing even more stuff to read.

    If you know; save us all some time and tell what the new setback is from the TOB (top of bank) in the proposed SMP, or is the CAO the controlling document?

    We have all these people pulling down big bucks, surely they know it all in every detail, yet we have Merri Ann Simonson (bless her) explaining it to us.

    1. No one knows because, as you say, there are so many combinations of overlapping restrictions with exceptions with site specific conditions that you need an SMP abacus to keep track. Pull the lever and see what comes out.

      No one knows. No one will ever give you a straight answer. That's the point. They will get you whenever they want to get you, and they will always want to get you.

    2. Here is the setback lowdown for shorelines, as it exists now, in the SMP, you either get a 50 or 100 foot setback from the Top of Bank, depending on if you have screening or not. More screening gets you the 50 foot setback.
      That was the extent of the setback regulations until the new CAO's passed. The CAO's now impose 3 buffers in the shoreline. A "Water Quality" buffer, which for standard residential use is 75 feet, however it is measured from the Ordinary High Water Mark(OHWM). You can not build in this buffer. There are then 2 "Tree Protection Zones", TPZ1 and TPZ2 with 1 being from OHWM to 35 feet landward and TPZ2 being from the 35 foot mark to the 110 foot mark. You are allowed to build a "primary residence" in TPZ2, as long as it doesn't enter the WQ buffer.
      I can't think of a situation where you would have your OHWM landward of the TOB (our sea levels haven't risen that much yet!). In the case of a sheer cliff at the water, you would have the situation where the TOB and OHWM are approximately equal. This is the case where shoreline owners get most shafted. Previously 50' setback if screened is now 75'.
      The properties that have no bank would then be restricted by the 75' from OHWM if screened, from a previous 50' and those with low banks will experience a varying degree of restriction, decreasing in severity as the distance between OHWM and TOB increase, if that makes sense. It helps to draw a picture and do several what if scenarios.

      In reading the online draft version of the new SMP, It appears that those setbacks haven't changed in distance, so we are still governed by the more restrictive of the SMP or the CAO. There is some new language that refers to costal geological buffers and encumbers the owner to pay a geotechnical engineer to determine appropriate buffers, still subject to the other minimums described above.

      Simple, right? Planning, can't live without it eh?
      Look on the bright side, you paid for this.

  5. Well!!!! If you are Kevin the Canker Wanker, Ocean Hero, and FOSJ founder/president, then the number is 15 feet. That's how far his quest house, on a single, less than 10 acre parcel with no other dwelling on it is from the water front. No wonder the FOSJ has been so quite, the last several month's. But that is just the norm for the corrupt San Juan County bunch. Hey Rick glad you got your barn built on the wetland setback before you passed restrictions on wetland setbacks. Again it is Do As I Say, not Do As I Do. Welcome to the new norm, it's not following the rules, with all of the cost's, but who you know. Thanks San Juan county, et al, for costing the tax payers another few million in litigation costs. I want to check out from my tax burden that continues to support these fools. As the Anonymous group says we are watching, and we do not Forgive or Forget. Keep that in mind Rick when you run for reelection, you don't just work for yourself or your crony capitalist buddies.

    PS good luck with that Rick.

  6. And the contractor on Kevin the Canker Wanker's guest house has known all along that it is wrong to build there but got a permit somehow, hmmmm.

  7. Ranker's parcel is small, less than 0.3 acres. There is an obscure provision in the Shoreline Master Program that waives the Top Of Bank setback for lots less than 0.3 acres that were platted that size prior to a certain date. His property qualified.
    The real story is that he submitted his permit before the CAO implementation. His permit was allowed to languish for quite some time before starting construction.
    The CAO that was subsequently passed imposes a 75 foot water quality buffer and he would have had to comply with that.
    Basically, he was advocating rules that he didn't want to follow.

    1. You are correct. I actually looked in to this and the file at CDP lays it all out. The file reads as if Rene Beliveau agreed with the wording of this obscure provision. So, technically, it is legal. What is slimy is that he applied for it a long time ago and the time between application and actual permit issuance was several years and I saw several notes in the file that the CDP staff were prodding him to take action.

      Short version, he knew he would be screwed by the new rules that his friends and he were supporting, so he got in under the gun and then delayed it beyond what is normally allowed in order to benefit.

      Do as I say, not as I do.
      We built ours, you can't build yours. Friends.

    2. What are the time frames allowed by code or law? Once he applied why would it take several years for a permit to be issued? Once issued how long, by code or law, do you have to start/complete project?

    3. The adopted building codes specify that a permit must be issued within 6 months of application. There are written provisions that allow extensions but the request for extension must show good cause and be in writing for review. No such items were found in his file.
      The thing is, this isn't just a Ranker issue, other people take a little longer to get stuff that the county asks for. Ranker, however, took extraordinarily long to get his permit approved and the back and forth coorespondence that I saw in the file showed that he was just dragging his feet to the max.
      I'm sure no one in their right mind that liked their job would actually call him out and expire out his permit.
      Look what happens to people in the county that have reported wrong doing. Imagine if you had the nerve to compel a Senator to actually follow a law.

  8. Right 7:23. Everybody I know of has had to pour some concrete to be vested. (Yes, it is true much of this concrete is getting quite old.)

    Also, the boys, got all wired up about Land bank proposed use and purchase of valuable certainly good productive land, about how it would be used rather the obvious major loss of privately owned tax producing parcels. Remarkable, in that they just stamped a budget full of red ink.

    "Mt. Grant" (really rightfully "Lawson Ridge") should not be allowed to leave the tax roles, and maybe let the Town have the lakes, but certainly NOT the range/ farm land.

    Who in the F do these people think are going to pay their property taxes? There are fewer of us every year.

    1. Agreed. Too much land rolling off the books when they could be awarding it to wetland and shoreline owners for their stewardship and enhancement of "SMALL" buffers.

      This is a small community who I expect could come up with better solutions but it is too hard to think outside the box.

  9. "Save Mount Grant" - from what exactly.

  10. Way to many different conservation programs on island.... one would think they could all ban together.

  11. "You cease to be a public servant when you break the public trust"
    -Brad Thor

    Saw this today and it reminded me of so many of our local elected officials.

  12. 12/3 at 5:52....thank you for an excellent it's clear as mud right?

    This whole thing is the County's WPA project for engineers, unemployed biologists, and attorneys. Expensive and non-productive spinning of wheels.

    Then, of course, there is those little payoffs (22K+ ...should be a much bigger plus + for attorney's fees.... which just left our collective pockets as the County now uses payola to buy out the miss-deeds of staff.

    Brace yourself, there is more coming.

  13. All of this is just so sickening. So much so that I think I just puked in my mouth a little.

  14. Nota bene, Mr. Jamie Stephens is now in charge of release of public documents to the public.

    So the public library is...?

  15. Seems the famous JT, wife of County Manager Mike Thomas, wants to get her own space at the County public trough.

    Just doing a little consulting as usual, this lady just helped us spend 22 thousand dollars in a hefty lawsuit settlement, but the naive as toothpaste Dona Wuthnow, County Parks, dreams it will only pay Ms. JT 500 bucks. You have a bridge to sell too, right Dona?

    How big is the Thomas entourage anyway? San Juan County is certainly a big believer in hiring as many relatives as Mike has got. Oh, wait, it is he that does the hiring.

    Onward into the black hole we continue to go.

  16. The county manager's wife isn't the only one that is on the receiving end of good fortunes of this one. There are quite a number of others that have potential conflicts.

    This is an Xmas giveaway by the parks department. Free taxpayer money to produce something that should be done by staff with their existing salaries.


  17. Existing County staff do extra work, holy moley.

  18. Over tired from engineering the large tax increase to support their department?

  19. A very large piece of Beaverton Valley wants to be turned into a fish pond? Can you just imagine the "protective measures" that will be dumped on the surrounding property owners.

    More basic for me is the large amount of excellent productive farm land now proposed to be converted to ECO Tourism.

    There are major rivers and very large salmon fry growth areas that need attention, not a tiny, very questionable, fun for fun effort on SJI.

  20. Agreed 5:53.....Eco Tourism... that is funny. There is nothing Eco about a farm whose wetlands, streams and lake areas that are mowed down to the edge. You can develop and care for the land at the same without ruining the wet spots. Look at a topo map someday and you can see why False Bay is silted in. We should quit trying to make this so hard when the solutions are so simple. Government for you!

  21. Anyone been in to CDP lately?
    There is a renewed air of hope. A positive feel to the place. All of the staff seem much happier. Relieved somehow.
    Gibboney is a cancer on the local government. Did we ever see a list of how many staff left during her tenure? None of them retirement mind you. It's staggering.
    Of course Thomas has her under his thumb and needs her to cosign his bullshit and probably appear as a witness in the endless lawsuits that are mounting....

    I feel bad for people at public works. Oh well, its sort of a step in the right direction.

  22. I believe anyone would love it that Madam Gibboney after trying to scorch John Geniuch (CBO-Chief Building Official-she canned because he wanted legal budgets) and the long suffering Honeywells--just about the most forgiving and giving people to hit San Juan County...well SHE (Gibboney) LOST!!!

    And then we have the list of Council achievements via County Manager Thomas as he had published in the Journal. So impressive, as in totally nothing.

    PS: Please run John, PLEASE!!!

  23. Thank Goodness she is almost gone. Yep Thomas will need her with the number of additional lawsuits in the works. A huge shout out to our staff who has worked steadfast through all of this horrible crap. Lisa Brown you are so amazing and professional!

    John Genuich for 2016. Absolutely where do I send the check to help pay for the bumper stickers. "Get on Board with John (not Bob)" It will be a much better ride. He will work to bring our government back to us and treat people fairly, unlike what County has done to its citizens like the Albritton's. Now we just need one more person to run for Orcas and we can get rid of these characters.

  24. Has anyone asked Geniuch if he is considering running? He might make a great candidate, but after dealing with the abuse by Gibboney and Thomas, he might be quite soured on being involved in government.

    Probably worth asking though.

  25. Yes I believe he is considering it. It would actually work nicely since he would then be their boss!

  26. Here's a wonderful development. Janet Alderton as Pipeline Czar.

  27. OK, I'll go first. Holy smokes someone has surfaced that understands that in the great scale of importance we, and our little island population mean next to nothing.

    That person would be Rikki Swin. The journal was finally smart enough to post a letter that had some importance; Swin wrote it.
    Of course, most thinking people have known for years the facts Swin outlined and the conclusion is more than obvious.

    Simply put, our living here and what we do here means almost nothing. Regulating ourselves to death means nothing.

    Yet, it goes on and on, with FOSJ beating the same old tambourine to keep their coffers full and their mailers stuffing every box.

    Frankly, it has gotten boring with a capital "B."

    Hey Swin; wanna run for Council? At least you have done some basic study, making you more qualified than any of the twerps sitting there now. Rick Hughes will tell you the money is very nice too. (He'd like to keep getting it for doing nothing.)

  28. I have to agree, well written article.
    We need to find 2 solid candidates to get rid of Jarman and Hughes. It seems like they quickly became minions of Jamie. They weren't elected to be his buddy, they were elected to undo all the clusterf*&^ing