Clearly, the feathers of the Friends of the San Juans are quite ruffled about the wave of citizen opposition to the ill-conceived CAO revisions proposed by our planning department. Their complaints about evil, outside agitators are vaguely reminiscent of the McCarthy era's guilt-by-association and "Communist under every bed" memes. Ms. Burnett's letter of April 9 goes down this road again.
The Common Sense Alliance, the Orcas Eagle Forum, the Lopez Birds, and the San Juan Citizens Alliance for Property Rights are local organizations with widely varying missions, and no grant funding. What they have in common is that they are all just as concerned with the environment as the Friends purport to be, and are much more concerned for their neighbors.
These groups include a broad range of folks—from old homesteading families to young farmers to self-proclaimed "former Democrats" and "former members of the Friends," and they are not particularly happy with the Friends-driven CAO agenda. This the Friends learned to their obvious dismay at the February meeting on Orcas about the Charles Dalton fiasco, and in the numerous meetings here and on other islands held by these groups.
None of the groups challenged by the Friends has claimed any right to do "anything they want" with their property. They simply want to see valid reasons articulated for any proposed increase in the regulation of County property.
The overwhelming majority of the residents of the County have been excellent stewards of their lands, having successfully maintained what so many have recently praised as a pristine paradise. The people of the County, and the community groups that the Friends are so intent on reviling, want to see some evidence supporting the existence of a problem and a rational relationship between any such problem and the complex, expensive "cures" proposed to solve them.
With respect to government spending, the only common thread that the community groups attacked by the Friends have is the desire to avoid (1) the extensive additional County staff that will be needed to implement the proposed regulations; (2) the enormous projected cost of litigation about the ill-conceived new rules; and (3) the impact of decreased revenues that will result from wholesale loss of property values.
The County has conceded that it has performed NO analysis of the potential economic impact of these rule changes. None. Any wonder who will be stuck with the bill?