February 16, 2021 by stephenshubert
Longtime islander Joe Symons has been trying for almost 30 years to get the county to study the carrying capacity of the county in terms of how many people can realistically live here without changing the quality of life. He also wants the county to make our wonderful Vision Statement an operational plan, breaking it down into actionable items. If we do nothing, it will cost all of us more, because growth doesn’t pay for itself; either we all have to pay more in taxes, or services are reduced. It will cost us money to do something about the problem, but better to spend the money and get some positive results than spend more money and continue to see livability degraded. Joe would like to see a branding of San Juan County so that everyone who lives here and everyone who visits here becomes a steward of our environment, as if we were stewards of a park. Currently there are no restrictions on vacation rentals or building permits, so growth is only limited by what the market will bear, not by a plan to preserve our quality of life.
The development and quality of life on our islands should be of concern to everyone who lives here. Mr. Symons has complied an interesting and varied number of facts and issues on his web site:
http://doebay.net/bigpicture.pdf and https://www.keepsanjuanswild.org/.
The County is revising its development plan. As you know, one “hot” issue is vacation rentals and there impact on water and sewage. One rather scarry facts that all should note is the decline of fresh water available through wells. All too many wells are experiencing salt water intrusion on Orcas and San Juan.
This is our community, and if we are not actively involved in its future development, we pay the penalty of giving the future to those whose motives are not known and which may be narrow and exclusionary.
Your comments are of interest.