Letter to Editor | Planned or Unfettered Growth

— from Walter Corbin —

A few days ago there was a meeting for the community to express their now and then vision for our rural community. Unfortunately this was done without the guidance of the facilitator addressing the key to all our visions — the impact of people and machines growth.

Reasonable growth and the attention to the creation of jobs for people so that they can purchase housing and continue to live here is important. However, for the resident that lives or comes here with the expectation of experiencing our unique rural environment, it is really an insult when we hear of the modest increases in growth that we are told will occur. If that growth is not harmful to the resources and environment, or our quality of life, then why not define these growth limits in the planning/vision process that residents are willing to accept?

Orcas has limited roadways. Is it unrealistic to say that when we continually experience groups of dozens even hundreds of cars crowding the roadways that measures should not be taken to mitigate those intrusions that we all experience, especially during the tourist season. So what do the planners propose are those limits — they don’t..

Again, our aquifer is not limitless and even now people in the County are suffering from salt water intrusion. Wouldn’t it be wise for planning to implement controls that will not harm that aquifer used by existing property owners. Presently there are none and perhaps only when those aquifers are exhausted or degraded will the planners take notice.

Vision planning is unrealistic without accompanying growth measures to assure a vision or visions agreed upon can be met. Remember the frog in the pot of water that has been put on the stove. Comfortable for awhile while the water warms but as the heat increases it is too late for him to realize his eventual demise.

Planned and measured growth, when compared to the quality of life that we want is necessary. Unfettered growth that occurs because of people’s ability to buy their perceived lifestye defies our rural vision. There are limits and unless people speak out to our politicians and ask for a scale that defines reasonable or harmful growth, we will generally get the latter.

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Letter to Editor | Planned or Unfettered Growth — 3 Comments

  1. Love your letter Walt! Good Points! The Basic Issues haven’t been dealt with in the Planning end! Too many people in Eastsound for the carrying capacity of water resources. Spirit Eagle

  2. Actually, according to data and population projections from the Eastsound Water Association, there is plenty of water to supply future populations here on Orcas. Their data also incorporated changes in rain (ground) water volume due to climate change, which actually indicates an increase in ground water.
    Contact Paul Kamin for more information.

  3. Good points, Walt Corbin. Our growth right now is both unplanned and unfettered.

    I disagree with Matthew Willis that we have enough water for population projections – unless he is talking about desalinization or reverse osmosis. There is already saltwater intrusion in wells on the west side of the island.

    I don’t know where the figures come in about increased rain water and climate change, but these changes would be temporary; at first there may be more rain (and much of it storm water intrusion), but that wouldn’t last. This year’s drought summer, despite the rain, was one of the worst yet. The earth cracked many feet down in my (normally) very wet garden. I have never seen the soil crack like that in so many places in my 36 years of living here, especially after such a wet spring.

    Unfettered growth leads to deforestation. Deforestation leads to desertification. We need forests to keep producing rain. We keep cutting down forests as if they will regenerate. With climate change, the truth is, we don’t know if these forests will regrow. We need to stop looking only 20 years out and start looking at the long picture of a couple hundred years.

    Look around town at the cedars; many are dying, due to drying up of ground water and sun exposure; these trees colonize in damp shady places, they are not meant to grow in the sun in dry ground (especially dry ground caused by development.) What we do has effects we don’t even SEE for years. These are not being considered.

    It’s a myth that this island has water carrying-capacity (or land carrying capacity) for projected population buildout, even “modest” projections. It’s a myth that our roads can handle the load; they are struggling to now. It’s a myth that tourism is a “low impact” industry, environmentally. It’s a myth that market-driven anything is sustainable.