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 18th, 2013, by Margie Doyle
May 22, 23, and 24, 2013
From Stan Matthews
County Interim Information Technologist and Communications Manager
A special three day filing period will be held in accordance with RCW 29A.24.171 only for the offices listed below. The special three day filing period is being held because no candidate filings were received during the regular filing period.
Candidate filings can be made in person or by mail Monday May 22, 8 a.m. until Friday May 24 at 4:30 p.m. Online candidate filings will be accepted Monday May 22 at 9 a.m. until Friday May 24 at 4 p.m. If there is still a void in candidacy after the special three-day filing period, the office will not appear on the November 5, 2013 General Election ballot.
More information about filing for the offices listed below may be obtained by contacting the Elections Office at 55 Second St, PO Box 638, Friday Harbor, WA 98250, by calling (360) 378-3357, or by e-mailing the elections office at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Information can also be found at the San Juan County Elections Office web-site at www.sanjuanco.com/elections.
THE ONLY OFFICES FOR WHICH FILINGS WILL BE ACCEPTED ARE:
- San Juan County Fire Protection District 5 (Shaw Fire) Position 3
- Orcas Island Park & Rec Commission 2
- Orcas Island Park & Rec Commissioner 4
- Orcas island Park & Rec Commissioner 5
- San Juan Island Cemetery District (Stuart) Commissioner 1
- Cape San Juan Water Commissioner 1
- Cattle Point Water Commissioner 1
- Cattle Point Water Commissioner 3
- Eastsound Sewer and Water Commissioner 5
- Fisherman Bay Commissioner 3
Candidate filings for the above positions only, can be made in person, by mail or online. If there is still a void in candidacy after the special three-day filing period, the office will not appear on the November 5, 2013 General Election ballot and the current incumbent will remain in office.
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 15th, 2013, by Margie Doyle
The Orcas Island Public Library, Orcas Island School Library, and Orcas Island Park and Recreation District are collaborating to develop interesting and engaging summer programming for children in grades K-12.
We need your input as soon as possible — preferably no later than Tuesday, May 21. Please click here to take the survey: surveymonkey.com/s/Orcas_School_Summer_Library_Use
Our goal is to provide opportunities for all school-age youth to use our school library as a place for fun and interesting activities this summer. Please help us choose great activities for Orcas children and visitors!
We invite adults to respond as well, if interested in serving as a coach or volunteer.
If you have questions or comments please contact Orcas Park and Rec at 376-7275 or email@example.com. Thank you for your time. We look forward to sharing the results with you.
Phil Heikkinen, Orcas Island Public Library
Marcia West, Orcas Park and Recreation District
Barbara Kline and Kyle Freeman, Orcas Island School District
May 15th, 2013, by Margie Doyle
Wednesday, May 22nd from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free on Lopez Island!
From the San Juan Islands Conservation District
Ever wonder if you can sustain yourself and your family from the land you live on?
Meet a family that has been doing just that for over 40 years!
“Biodynamic farmers strive to create a diversified, balanced farm ecosystem that generates health and fertility as much as possible from within the farm itself.” Learn about the origins of the CSA movement and get ideas on how to manage your own garden or farm from the soil up. This workshop will be hosted and presented by the very active owners of this beautiful 50 acre farm that produces: vegetables, fruit, flowers, beef, dairy, pork, lamb, chicken and eggs as well as animal feeds, fertilizers, solar energy, water and wood products. Resources that are not not used on the farm are sold to the local community.
Register at: lopezbiodynamic.eventbrite.com
May 14th, 2013, by Margie Doyle
From the County Prosecutor’s Office
Team meetings of three members of the county council and the county administrator did not violate the Open Public Meetings Act, said Island County Superior Court Judge Alan R. Hancock. The gatherings at issue occurred during 2011 and 2012 when a Critical Areas Ordinances (CAO) Team met to coordinate work that was coming to the council.
The CAO Team met without formal public notice several times in 2011 and 2012, but that practice stopped in April 2012 on the advice of Prosecuting Attorney Randall K. Gaylord. After Mr. Gaylord’s advice all subcommittees of the county council have met with notice. That advice was commended by the court, which recognized that it was ”prudent” and “conservative” advice made with “an appropriate respect for caution and to protect the public interest and assure the validity of actions of the council.”
In October 2012 a property rights group from Bellevue, Washington, the Citizens Alliance for Property Rights Legal Fund (CAPR), challenged the CAO Team meetings that occurred without notice claiming they violated the Open Public Meetings Act. Another group, Common Sense Alliance, used the same arguments before the Growth Board in an effort to invalidate the CAO Ordinances.
“San Juan County has a reputation for a community process that encourages public involvement. Our county council operates in the open with many opportunities for public participation in the process of making its laws,” said Gaylord. “We are pleased that Judge Hancock ruled the CAO Team meetings lawful.”
Judge Hancock ruled that the Open Public Meetings Act is not violated when less than a majority (three of the six members) of the council were present at any meeting. Judge Hancock wrote, “The court must follow the holdings of Washington appellate cases, and they all hold there is no meeting under the OPMA when less than a majority or quorum of the governing body gathers.”
The court also ruled that the CAO Team was not authorized by the county council to act on its behalf, and did not conduct public hearings or take public testimony. CAPR’s arguments, said the judge, were “circular reasoning” or “clearly wrong.”
Also, the case for civil penalties against three council members – - Patty Miller, Richard Fralick and Lovel Pratt – - was also dismissed because none of them attended the CAO Team gatherings knowing they were acting in violation of the Open Public Meetings Act. The court recognized that individual council members had followed the prosecuting attorney’s advice.
Judge Hancock declined to declare invalid the four Critical Areas Ordinances adopted in December 2012, as they were adopted in compliance with the Open Public Meetings laws. The court noted that there were hundreds of hours of public meetings on the ordinances and members of CAPR and other members of the public had “every opportunity” to make their statement or submit written comment.
Lastly, the court also noted that there was no legal basis to enjoin future violations, especially after considering the amendments to the county charter which reduced the council size from six to three members, and made all subcommittee meetings of the council subject to the Open Public Meetings Act.
May 13th, 2013, by Margie Doyle
The Deer Harbor Community plans an emergency preparedness drill on Saturday, May 18
By David Schermerhorn
Outline of Spring Point fire drill on Saturday, May 18, 2013:
In order to test and evaluate response times of the various agencies involved we plan to work in real time as much as possible rather than having personnel and vehicles already in place at the beginning of the drill. The Red Cross vehicle and personnel will be an exception since they will be coming by ferry from Friday Harbor. The dispatcher and the various agencies involved will be aware in advance that a drill is planned but their responses will initially be triggered by a 911 or non-emergency call and later by communications from the Incident Commander Center. It is important to record the times when calls are made requesting support and the times the units have arrived.
Dave Dilling, Chairman of the Spring Point Home Owners Association will trigger a phone-tree that he is organizing designed to alert the residents to the situation and to check on the condition of neighbors.
We learned after the planning meeting that the hand-held radios distributed among 13 volunteers will not reach from the fire site to the Fire Station due to local geography. As a result the volunteers must be prepared to communicate via their mobile phones. A listing of these numbers will be sent in a separate mailing.
This is a tentative outline of events. However the schedule is subject to change as events unfold and/or at the direction of the Incident Commander: Read more…
May 13th, 2013, by Kathleen Lunde
Norm Stamper, Orcas resident
By Kathy Lunde
Norm Stamper Ph.D., retired Seattle Police Chief, will be speaking at The Orcas Center Wednesday, May 22nd, 5:30pm. The general topic will be “Community Policing in the 21st Century,” focusing on The War on Drugs, Guns and Gun Violence, and Domestic Drone Use.
Now retired and living on Orcas, Mr. Stamper’s professional experience makes him uniquely qualified to speak on these subjects. While serving as the Chief of Police for the City of Seattle, he implemented a major restructuring of the organization, created a Domestic Violence program, developed numerous community advisory councils and outreach programs, and created new bureaus of Professional Responsibility, Community Policing, and Family and Youth Protection.
He previously served as the Executive Assistant Police Chief for the City of San Diego, among other significant positions with that city. Mr. Stamper holds a Ph.D. in Leadership and Human Behavior, Masters in Criminal Justice Administration, an Associate Degree in Police Science and is a graduate of the National Executive Institute, sponsored by the FBI.
Since moving to Orcas, he has been involved in the San Juan County Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services Board, Local Initiatives Support Corporation Community Safety Initiative, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the Drug Policy Alliance, and the Death Penalty Focus.
Please join us for what promises to be an informative and lively discussion. This event is brought to you by the Orcas Island Library and the Friends of the Orcas Island Library. This is a non-ticketed event, and is free to the public.
For more information, please contact Kathleen Lunde at the Library, 376-4985 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 13th, 2013, by Margie Doyle
Special session blues: may the best budget finagler win
By John Stang fpr Crosscut.com
The state Legislature begins its 30-day special session today. The question is whether much progress has been made in two weeks of closed-door negotiations.
Gov. Jay Inslee believes some progress has been made, but did not want to publicly discuss the talks last week because that would violate an agreement to keep the negotiations confidential, said Inslee spokesman David Postman.
“We still have a ways to go,” said House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington.
When the legislative session ended May 2, the Republican-oriented Senate and the House-controlled House were far apart on what the 2013-2015 state operating budget should be. Sullivan said the current talks have been focused on budget matters. Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond and the Senate’s lead budget negotiator, could not be reached last week for comment.
Last Thursday, 15 people from Hill’s 45th District — who also belong to the Washington Conservation Voters and Environmental Priorities Coalition — gave him a petition with 5,000 signatures that asked him to eliminate a use tax exemption for extracted fuel, which covers a factory or commercial operation’s byproducts that are used internally as fuel….And an extra $40.8 million would go to the state in 2013-2015. The petitioners want that money to go to education.
The petition is just the beginning. Both sides, not to mention Inslee, have lists of blocked bills that they want passed this session — with everyone expecting eventual horsetrading.
(To read the full article, go to crosscut.com/2013/05/13/olympia-2013/special-session)