February 01, 2012
To the Editor:
Martha’s Vineyard here we come!
Islanders say they don’t want the San Juans to become a Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket Island; retreats mostly for the very wealthy. These east coast islands used to have working economies based on fishing; and a long time ago, whaling. They were self sufficient middle class communities with small farms, shops, tradesman, home and boat builders, fisherman and a few summer homes.
Then came the well intentioned folks from off-island who decided the islands were a treasure that needed to be "saved," and saved they are ..... all except for the seafarers, real farms, real shops, tradesman and builders; the folks who had "saved" the island’s culture and environment up to the landing of the new arrivals.
The working middle class was squeezed out when hired professional planners and timid local officials enacted their restrictive regulations. Rules intended to "save the islands," made the existence of working families and a balanced economy untenable.
The San Juan Islands may have already turned the corner toward becoming the west coast versions of these east coast "saved" islands. For sure, the latest regulations, called the Critical Areas Ordinance and the new Shoreline Master Program will further grease the skids.
Nearly every home and property in the islands will be encumbered by new County permitting restrictions. Under the General Section of the CAO passed today, January 24th, and which will be final later this year, if you disturb the soil, cut brush, you need to get the County’s permission first. One can’t make this stuff up!
It is truly a sad situation for the long-time residents who loved the dynamic community we used to have ..... to now see it disappearing. It is ironic that the apparently well-intentioned Council elected officials and the citizen- paid "professional planners," are the instrument for the destruction of our exceptional San Juan Island communities. It is even sadder how few islanders are concerned enough to rise up and object.