May 20th, 2013, by Lin
Tues., June 4, 1:00 – 3:30 PM, Eastsound Fire Hall
from Heather Trim
Futurewise, Director of Science and Policy
Topics: Importance of trees and shrubs in the shoreline | Economic value of shorelines
Sound Shoreline Science Forum is free forum about shoreline health. You will learn about wildlife and other needs of the shore edge of Puget Sound as well as the Shoreline Master Program process for San Juan County. As our population increases, it is important to do what we can to ensure clean water and habitat for salmon, crab, shellfish, orcas and the myriad of other sea creatures that make our way of life so special.
The forum will include presentations by leading scientists on topics related to our beaches, bluffs, wildlife, and economic value and will also offer an opportunity for you to ask questions about our shorelines and about the upcoming Shoreline Master Program for the county.
Hosted by Futurewise in partnership with FRIENDS of San Juans.
For more information and to register, visit HERE.
May 19th, 2013, by Margie Doyle
Challenges brought by groups from opposite ends of land-use spectrum
From the San Juan County Prosecutor’s Office
For three weeks the attorneys at the prosecutor’s office have been writing, revising and honing the response to the challengers of the county’s critical areas ordinances adopted in December 2012.
The county’s response, at almost 100 pages with about 1000 citations covering about 100 issues, is the most complete statement of the controversy over the critical areas ordinances. “Our objective,” said Prosecuting Attorney Randall K. Gaylord, “is to show the Growth Board that we followed the law, considered the science, and applied the policies adopted by the county council.”
The critical areas ordinances concern wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat, frequently flood areas and steep slopes. The ordinances have exacting standards to protect these resources and assure that the species of concern are not lost due to development. The ordinance also reflects the county council’s choices to balance the regulatory system with a recognition that preexisting structures and uses should be allowed to continue.
The challengers have presented issues from opposite ends of the land use spectrum. Friends of the San Juans contend the critical area ordinances make too many exceptions and ask that the Growth Board use other scientific reports. Common Sense Alliance, P.J. Taggares, John Evans/San Juan Builders and William Wright also ask that the Growth Board follow the reports of other scientists and want a study of each property before it is designated a critical area. A request by Citizens Alliance for Property Rights (CAPR) to join the case was denied by the Growth Board.
Gaylord said the challengers offer what each of them considers a better approach. “But that’s not the legal standard,” said Gaylord. The county’s response shows how the county council used and considered the “best available science” and explained why the county council departed from the recommendations of the scientists.
“The county council was not required to use specific reports. It could use a range of reports considered best available science or provide a rational explanation when it departed from that range,” added Gaylord. Regarding designation of specific properties as critical areas, Gaylord added that the law permits the approach which evaluates the harm to the critical area at the time a development is proposed.
At a prehearing conference the Growth Board created seven categories of issues regarding four ordinances that address the critical areas – places like wetlands, frequently flooded areas, steep hillsides and habitat for fish and wildlife.
“The most important issues are the procedures used to designate critical areas, and the performance standards used to protect critical areas,” said Gaylord. Other topics to be considered by the Growth Board include consideration of property rights and public participation. Read more…
May 18th, 2013, by Margie Doyle
To the Editor,
I would like to commend the Orcas Island Fire Department/EMS, Emergency Management, Airlift Northwest, Camp Orkila, the volunteers from Deer Harbor and all the others whose combined effort made the recent fire drill in Spring Point an outstanding success. Fire Chief Kevin O’Brien coordinated the activities of an impressively professional crew. Bob Connor had prepared a field for use as an alternate Landing Zone for helicopter evacuation. Sheila Gaquin organized Red Cross facilities at the Deer Harbor Inn, the designated Emergency Center. Altogether a fine example of professionalism, resourcefulness and community effort.
One problem that was readily apparent was with communication.The Fire Department was able to work around crowded radio frequencies. However, cell phone coverage in Spring Point and other areas on Orcas is all but non-existent. Reception is better through the local Canadian network than with our domestic ones in these dead zones. During the recent wild fires in California we saw numerous examples on the news of vital information being exchanged through Twitter or Facebook. And in our dead spots we cannot even make a 911 call.
OPALCO has reached out to the island community to support an improved Broadband through an expanded optical cable network. In my view this would be an outstanding development. However, contrary to rumor, it does not affect coverage for cell phones. The proposed antennas at the end of its lines would only provide Wi-Fi to expand the cable network’s coverage. I am told that these same antennas could also be used to enhance cell phone coverage but one or more of the carriers (ATT, Verizon, etc.) would have to be convinced of the economic incentive.
I believe it is incumbent on OPALCO, our County Council and all our cell phone users to explore and encourage multiple uses of these antennas before the opportunity is lost. Poor reception is not just an inconvenience. As demonstrated in the fire drill it is an avoidable condition that potentially affects the security of much of our islands.
May 17th, 2013, by Margie Doyle
June 10 deadline for public comment on wide-ranging rules to implement the voter-approved legalization of pot
Medical marijuana grower Brendan Howley working with marijuana plants grown under current state medical marijuana prescriptions in Skagit County. New rules are being proposed for sales under a state law legalizing marijuana. Crosscut photo by Tom James.
By John Stang for Crosscut.com
One way that smoking legal pot will just be like smoking cigarettes: Your pack of weed could include the printed label, “Warning: Smoking may be hazardous to your health.”
The Washington State Liquor Control Board unveiled Thursday the draft ground rules for growing, processing and selling recreational marijuana. The public has until June 10 to comment on the proposed regulations.
The 46-page set of draft rules includes how to apply for a license to grow, process or sell pot. How to object to such a facility locating an area. How to get a license revoked or suspended. Where such an operation can be located. What paperwork will be needed for a long list of marijuana-related activities. How the weed will be taxed. The potency of the pot. How the finances are to be set up and monitored.
On taxes, each sale from a grower to a processor to a retailer to a customer -— including those involving middlemen in that chain —- will result in a 25 percent tax to the state.
(To read the full story, go to crosscut.com/2013/05/17/marijuana-rules-take-minute-inhale-then-offer-your-coments)
May 16th, 2013, by Margie Doyle
Board to Search for Replacement to Complete Term
On Thursday, May 16th, the OPALCO Board of Directors accepted George Mulligan’s resignation from the board with great appreciation and gratitude for his five years of service.
Board president Chris Thomerson said, “George’s ability to assimilate, refine and revealingly summarize complex financial issues provided the Board with a valuable perspective. His dedication and commitment to OPALCO and its membership has served the Co-op well over the last five years. George will be missed for his expertise—and his willing friendship.”
Mulligan’s seat on the OPALCO board represents District 1, which includes San Juan, Brown, Henry, Pearl, and Spieden Islands. OPALCO’s Directors will conduct interviews in search of a replacement to be appointed to the board to finish out Mulligan’s term, which expires in 2014. A permanent replacement will be voted in by the members at OPALCO’s annual meeting in May, 2014.
Orcas Power & Light Cooperative (OPALCO) was founded in 1937 to improve the quality of life in our rural islands. OPALCO serves about 11,000 co-op member-owners on 20 islands in San Juan County.
May 9th, 2013, by Margie Doyle
By Kristina Bayas, Volunteer Program Coordinator,
WSU Master Gardeners
Calling all islanders interested in composting and recycling!
Join WSU Extension and San Juan County Solid Waste in this county-wide training of Master Composters/Recyclers. Participants will learn all the ins and outs of composting, vermicomposting, soil building and recycling in this four-week program, including one field trip. Trained volunteers will be expected to provide 20 hours of expert advice and answers to community questions at events and workshops.
Classes will take place on the following Thursdays from 9am to 12pm: May 16, May 23, May 30, and a field trip to Mt. Vernon on Thursday June 6.
Class will meet at Skagit Valley College on San Juan Island, and at the local library on Orcas and Lopez to attend via videoconferencing.
Call WSU Extension at 378-4414 to sign up or to get further information.
May 9th, 2013, by Margie Doyle
Donna Gerardi Riordan, Co-founder of Orcas NO COALition (nocoalition.net) yesterday sent word out to NO COALition members: “Terrific news about an important victory today in Oregon! The bottom line is this: pipeline/terminal company Kinder Morgan has decided not to pursue a proposal to build a coal terminal on the Columbia River.”
Tankers crossing in Haro Strait. Photo courtesy of Shawna Franklin and nocoalition.net
By Floyd McKay
Thirty millions tons of coal a year were taken off the region’s export board Wednesday when the pipeline and terminals giant Kinder Morgan announced that it would no longer pursue a major coal terminal at the Port of St. Helens on Oregon’s Columbia River shore.
The announcement came quickly at a regular meeting of the Port of St. Helens, as Allen Fore, a Kinder Morgan spokesman, made a brief statement that the company’s “due diligence” had turned up site issues that made the site unfeasible. The Port was in the midst of an effort to rezone some 957 acres of open land from agriculture to industrial use to allow Kinder-Morgan to build a terminal. The facility would have shipped from 15 to 30 million tons of coal a year brought by rail from the Powder River Basin.
No originating coal company had been named. The plan by Kinder Morgan, which bills itself as one of the North America’s three largest energy firms, called for coal to be loaded onto ships bound for Asia. But Kinder Morgan remains nterested in being part of the rush to export coal to China from the United States.
The so-called “site issues” did not include a general pushback in the region against coal exports and the trains that carry the coal, Fore told commissioners. But the previous night a large and clearly anti-terminal crowd turned up at a county hearing on the rezoning proposal. “We wanted to be sure it wasn’t going to be a rubber-stamp deal and if it was, it would be appealed,” Darrel Whipple of Alston told Crosscut.
Whipple lives between two small Oregon towns that would be heavily impacted by perhaps a dozen coal trains a day if the terminal is built. City councils in Rainier and Clatskanie have raised objections to the project.
“Opposition has grown as people become more aware of the guaranteed impact along the rail line of the five cities that will be split along the rail line,” said Whipple, who is active in Clean Columbia County, a citizen group opposing the export terminal.
(To read the full story go to: crosscut.com/2013/05/09/coal-ports/114379/mckay-k-m-out-st-helens)
May 7th, 2013, by Lin
from Mark Schofield,
Conservation Programs Coordinator
Opportunity Council Assists San Juan County Residents Through Weatherization
Home heating season is coming to a close – but for many low-income residents of San Juan County, the financial strain of paying high energy bills can last throughout the year. However, an organization is working directly with San Juan County residents and community partners to ease that strain.
Through its weatherization program, the non-profit Opportunity Council is helping San Juan County residents gain control over their energy bills and maintain safe and comfortable homes year-round.
“Heating costs account for about half of total energy costs for a typical home,” said Mark Schofield, Conservation Programs Coordinator, at Opportunity Council. “Weatherization makes a home more energy efficient, and that energy efficiency can mean big savings for the occupants.”
Weatherization includes measures such as adding insulation and sealing air leaks in order to increase home energy conservation and efficiency. As part of these services, Opportunity Council staff members also provide clients with in-home energy audits and conservation education.
Funding for these projects in San Juan County comes, in part, from Bonneville Power Administration — the generation and transmission utility that provides electricity to the islands through the Orcas Power and Light Cooperative.
Opportunity Council’s weatherization services are available for free to any residents — whether homeowners or renters — who meet income eligibility. Households earning up to 200% of federal poverty level (for example, a little over $4000 per month for a family of four) qualify for the program.
Those interested in learning more and applying for Opportunity Council’s weatherization services should call toll-free 1-800-649-5121 ext. 158.
About the Opportunity Council
The Opportunity Council is one of 30 community action agencies in Washington State and over 1,000 in the nation. For 45 years, the nonprofit agency has served low-income individuals and families through advocacy, partnerships and programs. OC programs include weatherization, Head Start, housing, energy assistance, childcare resources and more.
May 5th, 2013, by Margie Doyle
Tuesday, May 7 Deadline for written comments
From Colin Maycock, San Juan County Senior Planner
State law requires the County to update its Shoreline Master Plan (SMP) (RCW 90.58.080(2)(iv)), and Washington Administrative Code (WAC) chapter 173-26 sets forth the appropriate procedure for carrying out that update.
(To see previous article about the Shoreline Master Plan (SMP) progress, go to shoreline-master-plan-process-continues)
Beyond meeting State requirements, [County] staff approached the SMP update with the goal of retaining the existing regulations where possible, while simplifying and clarifying the development regulations that apply in the shoreline.
To achieve this, staff has reduced redundancies by eliminating or combining sections; by clarifying development requirements; by increasing the consistency in the use of terms; and by eliminating unnecessary sections such as specific shoreline districts for Shaw Island and Eastsound however, many of the differences that the subarea shoreline districts are retained.
The first part of a comparison between state requirements, the existing SMP and the proposed SMP update; http://www.sanjuanco.com/CDP/docs/SMP/Staff_Report_and_Code_Comparison-final-2013-05-03.pdf
A copy of the third version of the Shoreline Inventory and Characterization Report has been posted here: http://www.sanjuanco.com/smp/IandC_Files.aspx
In response to the 2nd draft of the I&C, citizens submitted descriptions of their property and their uses. The descriptions were added to the County’s GIS and mapped. The map and the descriptions shall be available shortly.
An online form will be available for citizens to send the County additional descriptions of their properties and how they use it.
As always, if you have any questions or comments please contact me at 360-370-7573 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written comments can also be submitted to PO Box 947, Friday Harbor, WA, 98250.
May 4th, 2013, by Margie Doyle
Poster Contest has great prizes in adult and junior divisions!
Fresh produce and babies came out in the sunshine at the opening day of Orcas Island Farmer’s Market
The Orcas Island Farmers Market opened today to a glorious season of sunshine and fresh produce and products.
Booths can be obtained for $20 per Saturday until June, when the cost is $25. Non-profits are given a reduced seasonal rate.
The Farmers Market is also sponsoring a Poster Contest, with $500 cash prize for the Adult Division winner, and $25 gift certificates to Ray’s Pharmacy and Darvill’s for the Junior Division. Posters will be judged by uniqueness, color, artistry, composition, timelessness and a representation of the full breadth of market offerings from crafts, food and farmers.
Entry forms are available at the Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce, Darvill’s Bookstore, Ray’s Pharmacy, Teezers and the Office Cupboard.
For more information, contact Jennifer Pietsch at 317-8342 or eamil email@example.com.