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Friday, May 26th

A Balance of Friends



Our County Council is reported to have just appointed a seven member citizen panel to interview candidates for the new County Administrator position. The idea with most citizen committees is that they should be composed of a broad and balanced spectrum of the public that they are there to represent.

By my count six of the seven people appointed are members/supporters of the Friends of the San Juans. One of the six is the Friends Vice President, Lynn Bahyrch, an attorney who has been very active for several years in trying to stop the citizens of our county from being allowed to build Guest Houses.

Does this sound like a committee that is intended to provide balanced representation for all of our citizens? Packing our citizen committees with their "Friends" and supporters is getting to be a habit with our County Council.

In their struggle to hang on to as much of their power as possible the County Council is clearly trying to make sure they hire a County Administrator who will do their bidding. They are counting on this "citizens committee" to help support their decision.

The new charter was intended to provide some separation of powers between the Council and the Administrator. This can only work if the Administrator is hired based strictly on qualifications for the job and not on the basis of whether he or she has the politics that the Friends of the San Juans find to their liking. This seven person committee is not in the least reflective of our diverse community.

Wanda Evans
Olga,


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Wednesday, May 24th

Work Together To Create Affordable Housing



To the editor:

The defeat of the proposed Real Estate Excise Tax (REET} on Tuesday, May 16th is not an indication that islanders are not concerned about the rising cost of housing for working families in San Juan County. Voters just did not see this tax as the appropriate solution.

The San Juan Builders Association would like to work with those who share our concern about affordable housing for working families. There are answers. Some involve the need for changes in current county government policies. With a reasonable approach to land use regulation, permitting fees, and opportunity or incentives for private property owners, more affordable housing can become a reality.

The largest unmet need is good quality rental housing that is affordable for individuals, couples and working families. One answer is to encourage property owners to build guesthouses. Offering an incentive, such as the forgiveness of permitting fees and costs if the unit is rented long term for some defined period of time, could be the encouragement that some property owners could find beneficial.

Longer term, a change in the public and governmental attitude toward housing and growth is essential. We can never achieve a balanced housing market if our local culture and actions mandate that less and less land is available for housing. The "market affect" simply takes over and prices rise beyond the reach of all but the wealthiest. Policy changes in the open space programs and the Land Bank to include an affordable housing component would help.

It is not sustainable to constrict land for housing and not expect prices to rise substantially. Innovative planning options need to be brought forward. This is where professional quality land use planning comes into play. With good planning it is possible to have an adequate supply of land for housing at rational prices AND maintain the scenic and environmental qualities we all treasure in San Juan County. This kind of quality planning takes a commitment by government and the community at large.

Working together and encouraging local government to be more enlightened, will make a difference.



John B Evans
Executive Director
San Juan Builders Association


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Tuesday, May 23rd

LETTERS ABOUT THE GUEST HOUSE ISSUE



----------------------------

Reader Has Deal For Collier


To the Editor::

We'll call ourselves the "no-limits-on-guest-houses lobby" if the "Friends" changes its name to the "We've Got Ours, Now Don't Ruin Our View lobby" or the "No building, nowhere, no-how, lobby." Deal?

Peg Manning
Orcas Island
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Voters "Impose"?

To the Editor:

Hey, Roger Collier, you're wrong! If there is anyone "trying to impose (something) on our beautiful county" it is not John Evans. It is incorrect to infer that trying to enable the specific desires of about 73% of county voters is equivalent to "imposing." If there is any "imposing" in this matter, it is you elite know-it-alls and your cohorts at the GMA's Western Regional Hearing Board that think nothing of enforcing arbitrary one-size-fits-all mandates.

Albert Hall
Friday Harbor

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No, You'r Wrong, I'm Right!

Dear Editor:

Evans is wrong – No one is claiming an apartment is a guesthouse

That John Evans! He's descended to the classic political tactic of misrepresenting what an opponent says (See letters below between Evans & Collier -Ed.)and then arguing with the misinterpretation. And—not for the first time—he's wrong about most of what he says.

John, you're wrong! I did not anywhere in my letter to the Island Guardian say that a mother-in-law apartment was a guest house. I did say that even under the new ordinance there were other options for owners of small shoreline lots. Maybe John didn't read the San Juan County land use code that he voted on when he was a commissioner, but the definition of a guest house includes "an attached accessory structure."

John, you're wrong! I am a Board member of Friends, but I'm not an officer.

John, you're wrong! Friends' reasons for not opposing attached ADUs and bunkhouses are not only because of State law, but because they have much less impact than the rentable detached ADUs that John has been trying to impose on our beautiful county.

John, you're wrong! There is nothing in the new ordinance that prohibits accessory structures on small lots—beyond any limitations in the existing code—and no mention of deed restrictions for such structures. The only new restriction is that where both a guest house and a garage are required, they should be attached.

Finally, I note that John does not disagree with anything else in my letter. Could it be that he realizes he's wrong?

Roger Collier
Eastsound
----------------------------
Collier Is Wrong: An Apartment Is Not A Guest House


Only the Friends think a bunkhouse or mother-in-law apartment is the same as a guesthouse.
Roger Collier, board member and officer of the Friends, and former campaign manager for Councilman Lichter, continues to promote the notion (Letter below -Ed.)that a mother-in-law apartment in a person's house or a bunkhouse is a guesthouse. If they were, none of us would be dealing with this issue and the WWGMHB would not have questioned the County's ordinance! (The only reason the Friends are not trying to prohibit mother-in-law apartments and bunkhouses, along with guesthouses, is that they are provided for under State law.)

I stand by what I said. Just read the ordinance. The full text of the ordinance is available on the Guardian.

As the ordinance says, guesthouses are prohibited on parcels of less than 5 acres on the shoreline. Guesthouses are prohibited on parcels less than 1 acre even if they meet all other applicable construction requirements for storm water, setbacks etc. Property owners of more than one acre but less than 5 acres will have a deed restriction prohibiting other accessory structures that otherwise would be allowed. It is all in the ordinance. Just read what it says Roger? You should know. Your Friends wrote it.

It is true that I am the part time Executive Director of the San Juan Builders Association and proud of it. These are the hard working folks that fix your roof, paint your house or do your plumbing and electrical repairs and yes…some of them actually build houses for clients. They are no more or less pro-development than architects, engineers or any of the other folks whose occupation is to provide housing for people who need it.

As to whether the relationship between members of the Council and the Friends crossed the line from simply citizens accessing their legislators to something that is illegal…we shall see.

Have a great day.

John Evans
Executive Director
San Juan Builders Association

----------------------------
Evans Is Wrong: An Apartment = a Guest House

Dear Editor:

It's good to see that former commissioner John Evans has lost none of his steam since becoming the paid lobbyist of a pro-development special interest group. Anyone who enjoys reading fiction must have been entertained by his "forces of darkness" letter ( Evans letter follows this one. -Ed) on guest houses in The Island Guardian.

However, for those who also are interested in facts about the latest proposed ordinance, here are a few corrections and clarifications to John's letter.

1. Eventually the County must have a guest house ordinance that is found by the Growth Management Hearings Board to comply with State law
. (John doesn't mention this fundamental point, so perhaps he's not aware of it.) The need to persuade the Hearings Board to accept an ordinance less restrictive than the Board's prior ruling allowing detached guest houses only on rural lots of 10 acres or more is the reason for many of the proposed restrictions on guest house siting.
2. It is untrue that "anyone with less than 5 acres on the shoreline loses any right to have a guest house" All shoreline lot owners will still be able to build attached guest houses or so-called "bunk houses" (essentially guest houses without kitchens).
3. It is untrue that "property owners with less than 5 acres … will forfeit the right to have other accessory structures on their property." Property owners of small rural lots of 1 to 5 acres will be able to have a guest house and a garage combined in a single structure. There are no new restrictions on accessory structures other than garages.
4. It is untrue that "guest houses cannot be built on land with native plants, views, and open pastures or orchards." The proposed ordinance states that the guest house and driveway etc. must be located to avoid or minimize intrusion on the most sensitive open-space features of the site.
5. It is untrue that the water requirement "is contrary to State standards." The requirement is consistent with State standards.
6. It is untrue that "none of these restrictions have anything to do with complying with the State Growth Management Act." As noted above in #1, the Growth Management Hearings Board must determine whether San Juan County complies with the Growth Management Act. Given the Hearings Board's earlier ruling, it is clear that—if the County is to allow any guest houses on lots smaller than 10 acres—there must be restrictions that protect against the appearance of sprawl (the Hearings Board's big concern).
7. It is misleading to quote the guest house advisory ballot that referred to a "right" that no longer existed. As all pollsters know, if you craft a question carefully enough, you can get any result you want. There's little doubt that the vote would have been rather different if the ballot question had more accurately reflected the ordinance John was backing, like: "Do you want to allow each of your rural neighbors, no matter how small their lots, to be able to build detached guest houses that can be used as transient or long-term rentals."
8. It is untrue that the County has "failed to follow the public process required under GMA." If John thinks he has any evidence to the contrary, no doubt he will reveal it
9. It is untrue that the Council has "made special deals in secret." As John should know, citizens do have a right to talk to Council members, and there cannot be a "deal" without a series of public hearings.
10. It may be unwise to "let the Court decide." Not only does the Court of Appeals usually uphold decisions of Superior Court—which ruled in favor of the Hearings Board ban on guest houses on lots of less than 10 acres—but an Appeals Court decision would require a new ordinance and resubmittal to the Hearings Board, essentially starting the process over.

It's disappointing that John should have so few of his facts right, and unfair—since he is backing an approach that would probably result in a permanent ban—to those who would like to see an end to the guest house moratorium.

Finally, a correction to another no-limits-on-guest-houses letter
. Peg Manning must have missed much of the May 25 hearing, since the Council allowed everyone who spoke for an initial 2 minutes to speak again if they wished for a second 2 minutes, and a third 2 minutes, and (even, for one particularly garrulous guest house proponent) a fourth 2 minutes.


Roger Collier
Eastsound

----------------------------
Once-In-A-Millennium…6-6-06

Lately, some Hollywood movie releases are finding significance in themes having to do with the numbers 6-6-6 and the forces of darkness. Who are we to argue with Hollywood?

With this in mind, it is interesting to note that this Tuesday we will have our own local event coinciding with the once-in-a-millennium arrival of the 6th day of the 6th month of millennium, 2006; the citizens of San Juan County will be gathering before the Friends/Council to comment on the Dante's stew they are serving up …the latest San Juan County guesthouse ordinance!

The hearing is at the County Courthouse beginning at 1:30 P.M.


The devil is in the details.

Under this proposed ordinance:
Anyone with less than 5 acres on the shoreline loses any right to have a guesthouse, ever! So does anyone who owns less than 1 acre elsewhere (except for urban growth areas.)

Property owners with less than 5 acres but more than 1 acre, who make it though the permitting requirements and guesthouse rationing allocation, will be required to forfeit the right to have other accessory structures on their property. (The County will file a deed restriction to that effect against their property.) This restriction does not apply to anyone, (at least not yet) who does not build a guesthouse.

The list of restrictions goes on…

Guesthouses cannot be built on land with native plants, views, and open pastures or orchards.

Further, the property owner must meet a water availability standard established for a full time second primary residence. This water standard is contrary to State requirements and forecloses a guesthouse on most properties with class B water systems.

None of these restrictions have anything to do with complying with the Washington State Growth Management Act. As Councilman Myhr stated with a smile, "The rules are arbitrary." Put another way, the ordinance crafted by the Friends of the San Juans for the Friends/Council uses the personal opinions of a few to establish the rules and restrictions that will take the basic property right to build a guesthouse from as many property owners as possible…without declaring an outright ban.

This proposed ordinance flies in the face of the vote by 73.5 percent of San Juan County citizens who are opposed to losing a basic property right! The Council should be representing the overwhelming majority of County citizens, not a small minority.

If enough people show up at the hearing on 6-6-6 and or contact the 3 current members of the future 6-member Council, it may motivate the County Council to turn away from forces of dark side and see the light. (It is suggested that participants testifying against the proposed ordinance be prepared and bring a clove of garlic just in case things don't go well.)

All joking aside, the Friends/Council should represent the majority, not a small minority with a special agenda. They need to understand the implications of the coarse they have set…for its limit it places on an important affordable housing option, for its arbitrary restrictions on particular classes of property owners, for its ill advised prohibitions on rentals, for the failure to follow the public process required under GMA, and for going far beyond anything that is required to meet the demands of the Western Washington Growth Hearing Board, and for making special deals in secret.

Plan to attend the hearing and stand up for your rights. Tell them to let the court decide. Your presence can make all the difference in the outcome. At the very least, it should be entertaining. When you participate, you can then tell your children and grandchildren that you made the effort to stand up for what is fair and right.

Have a great day and hope to see you Tuesday.


John Evans
On the farm in Doe Bay


-----------------------------
Experience Or .... Divisiveness and Mismanagement


In addition to being intimately involved with the passage of the GMA and its many problems, County Administrator candidate Dick Grout can be credited with the creation of our GMA-formatted planning department. Some might count this as a credit, however, the record supports the view that the planning department, together with its personalities, its administration and its rulings were (and continue to be) the origin of much, if not most, of the divisiveness that has befallen our county government.

One must hope that our present counselors will not hire Dick Grout. Alternatively, they might want to perpetuate divisiveness and mismanagement – for this would surely be the signal that the hiring of Mr. Grout would send.

Albert Hall
Friday Harbor

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Council Handling of ADU Issue Transcends ADUs


Time ticks on. But we appear to be standing still. The only movement seems to be the rapid exiting of our rights as we know them. The Guest House issue is of huge importance--even for those who already have their guest house or have decided that it doesn't fit into their current plans.

Every time we allow political corruption, we loose the right to complain when that corruption later points it's crooked finger in our direction.

Every time we turn away while our neighbor's property use rights are being devastated, we loose the right to say, "Hello, have a nice day".

Every time we sanction "insider deals" on the local level, we are sanctioning it on the Federal level.

Every time we allow our democratic votes to be tossed out the window, we toss democracy and all it stands for out the window.

So, fight the fight---because it needs to be fought. Join your neighbors and friends in a unified stand against those that would use their political positions to deprive you of your personal rights. Watch the paper. Write your letters. Show up at the hearings. And walk tall. We are Americans, and that meant something. It can again

The Hanleys.

-----------------------------
Questions For The Council


An Open Letter To County Council

The San Juan County Council has published yet another proposed ADU ordinance text and announced that it will conduct a public hearing on June 6, 2006, at 1:30 p.m. regarding it. I have several important procedural questions for the Council.

First, will speakers at this hearing have their time again arbitrarily reduced to two minutes, or will they be permitted the same five minutes that are allowed in every other context? The resolution of the guesthouse issue is of enormous interest to the citizens, taxpayers and property owners of the County; close to 100 persons attended the last substantive hearing and more than 30 persons spoke. Cutting off testimony on an important topic like this at two minutes--barely enough to identify oneself--is both inappropriate and completely unnecessary. Scheduling the hearing is entirely within the Council's control, and it seems that, in this case, the Council should ensure that interested persons are permitted the full five minutes.

Second, will Council members ever respond to the questions raised at the last hearing, and will they respond at the upcoming hearing to questions raised during it? It seems to me that the process of having citizens ask their questions in one session, while having deliberations with no citizen participation at another, allows the Council to evade responding at all to the important questions raised by the commenters. There is simply no give-and-take or discussion of the issues in this format. Moreover, the Council should schedule the hearing to begin earlier and run later, so as to allow the assembled public to comment and to observe deliberations on the same day, allowing continuity in the consideration of the issue and permitting all in attendance to learn what responses County Council is providing. I believe that this issue is far too important to the people to force an abbreviated and disjointed hearing schedule on it. The fact that Council members might prefer to catch an early ferry really should not be controlling in this regard.

Third, I fail to understand how anyone can be expected to draw any valid conclusions about the ADU proposal and its impact upon our neighbors without having the final "vesting" ordinance proposal for review at the same time. It's possible for some to argue that this or that issue will be resolved in the vesting ordinance, but there's no guarantee of what will be in the vesting ordinance. The two should be considered together.

I would appreciate a response to my questions as soon as possible as we need to make our travel plans.

Thank you.

Peg Manning
Orcas
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Thursday, May 18th

Will Someone Start A Recall?



Editor,

On the oft raised topic of recalling one or more of the current county councilors, I wonder about a couple of issues. Could the established legal concept of "abuse of discretion" be applicable as a substantial basis for a viable recall campaign? Would a recall campaign for a particular councilor be county-wide because he was elected (or appointed) on a county-wide commissioner basis? Or would he be subject to a recall campaign from a valid petition and ballot of the voters from within the district he now represents as a county councilor? (Hmmm. That leaves me thinking that maybe half – 3 of 6 districts – of the voters of San Juan County are without direct representation during this transition period. What could possibly go wrong?)

I join Frank Penwell in that "I am not interested in being involved in such an action, but I would think those that are so intense in their opinion would be."

Sincerely,
Mike Stolmeier
Orcas Island


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Recall For Less In The Past



After reading the letters and articles about the illegal meetings of the Council members on the ferry, and the Council's many questionable actions, I am left wondering why no one has started a recall petition.

Years ago Alton Boyce was recalled for committing less crimes than the current Council members. I am not interested in being involved is such an action, but I would think those that are so intense in their opinions would be.

Sincerely,

Frank Penwell
San Juan Island

------------------------------------------------
Editor,

On the oft raised topic of recalling one or more of the current county councilors, I wonder about a couple of issues. Could the established legal concept of "abuse of discretion" be applicable as a substantial basis for a viable recall campaign? Would a recall campaign for a particular councilor be county-wide because he was elected (or appointed) on a county-wide commissioner basis? Or would he be subject to a recall campaign from a valid petition and ballot of the voters from within the district he now represents as a county councilor? (Hmmm. That leaves me thinking that maybe half – 3 of 6 districts – of the voters of San Juan County are without direct representation during this transition period. What could possibly go wrong?)

I join Frank Penwell in that "I am not interested in being involved in such an action, but I would think those that are so intense in their opinion would be."

Sincerely,
Mike Stolmeier
Orcas Island


[more..]


Monday, May 15th

LETTERS IN SUPPORT OF AN EXCISE TAX



In May, we will vote to authorize a 0.5% sales tax (99% to be paid by the seller) on every real estate sale to provide funds for a San Juan County Affordable Housing Program.

The ballot language follows: "The excise tax will be collected for ten years in the amount of one-half of one percent of the selling price on the sale of real property. Ninety-nine percent will be paid by the buyer and one percent by the seller. Revenue will be used exclusively for competitive grants and loans to eligible entities for the development of affordable housing for very low, low and moderate income persons and those with special needs."

New LETTER IN SUPPORT:

----------------------------------------------
Passing Tax Is Only Way For Working Families To Own Home

To the Editor

Does Mr. Carroll Carroll letter think that we have not carefully considered all options in selecting the real estate excise tax as the best option? Perhaps he should check the options out more carefully before denying our working families the only chance that they have to own a home for the foreseeable future.

If a sales tax were a viable option, it would take an increase of 0.66% to raise the same amount of money (using 2005 figures) and not the 0.1% that he proposes. This would raise our overall sales tax to nearly 8.4%. Who would this hurt? Washington State has one of the most regressive sales taxes in the country. We pay sales tax on nearly all purchases including most services such as plumber, electrician, carpenter, and appliance repair. An increase in sales tax would hurt not only local businesses, but those residents who can least afford it.

On the other hand, in Washington State, the real estate industry is one of the few commercial businesses exempt from sales tax on commissions. Mr. Carroll is basically arguing that taxes should be increased on other businesses but not on his own. You see, Mr. Carroll is a realtor.

We have consistently argued that the high cost of real estate is no one's fault. We happen to live in a beautiful and desirable area and many would like to move here. In addressing our highly volatile real estate market, our local realtors perform a valuable service. Many of them recognize that affordable housing is important and support the real estate excise tax as an essential part of funding the Housing Bank. Only a few seek to defeat this measure for their own financial interests.

Is the real estate excise tax unfair? No. It is the demand for real estate, primarily from outside the County, that is driving prices up. We believe that the problem should help pay for the solution. Anyone moving into a community expects to pay the taxes needed to provide the essential services in that community. This is no different. At least this is only a one-time tax, paid by the purchaser, just the same as any of the sales taxes that the rest of us pay on other products or services.

Realistically speaking, there are no other options. It took 6 years to get this legislation approved by the State legislature and it would take many more years to push some other proposed solution through the state legislature, even if that were desirable or possible given the power of the various lobbies.

We have a local solution within our grasp. It makes sense to vote YES for Affordable Housing.

Paul Losleben
Orcas Research Group


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Thursday, May 11th

Citizens Have A Right & Obligation To Critique Government



Dear Editor

It seems unusual to be lecturing a member of the Fourth Estate on the responsibility to defend the rights and privileges of a representative democracy, but Sharon Kivisto's editorial ( "Who's Trying to Run the County" appeared in the San Juan Islander -Ed) reveals that her bias in favor of the political status quo trumps her responsibilities to her public constituency.

When San Juan County overwhelmingly voted in Charter government together with enlarging the legislative branch to reflect the one-man, one-vote principle, they also voted for the Preamble to the Charter, which states:

"We, the citizens of San Juan County, in order to secure the benefits granted to a Home Rule Charter County under the laws of Washington State, and to assert greater control over the actions of County government, adopt this Charter."

The wish to assert more control resulted from the fact that people were tired of the ineffective, inefficient county apparatus dominated by three politicians who too often ignored the will of the voters in favor of their own personal agendas. The County was addled by personnel lawsuits that chewed up taxpayer money needlessly. There was constant interference with administrative departments who had three bosses with conflicting demands. The Commissioners could not have a conversation on most topics outside of public session without violating the Public Meetings Act, which meant on-the-fly decisions made without appropriate deliberation, often frighteningly bad. Partisan divisions separated them. Pandering to individual island constituencies consumed them. The collective interests of the electorate were not being served.

Thus was born the Charter movement, the hallmark of which is a separation of powers between the administrative and legislative branches and a reduction in judicial powers, which means that the Council members' jobs have been reduced by roughly two thirds. By far the most time consuming piece, by their own admission, will be taken over by a professional County Administrator. It is a substantial reduction in power.

So far, the actions of the County Council indicate that they are not going into their new roles quietly. Despite the reduction in responsibilities and the fact that those responsibilities will be shared among twice as many as before, they are lobbying for full-time salaries. Apparently fiscal reality has not struck: this County cannot afford to pay six full-time Council member salaries as well as that of a County Administrator, nor was it envisioned by the Freeholders that it would. The idea was that a wider range of talented people who want to perform public service will be able to sit on the Council without having to give up their current jobs – a true citizens' democracy – and be compensated fairly for their work. (In Whatcom County, with a much larger population, the seven Council members each earn $16,000 annually.)

They continue to make decisions that make one aghast: The ADU ordinance that changes weekly, the Salary Commission debacle, the purchase of an expensive property mired in controversy over whether it can or cannot become a recycling site, the exclusion of other key or senior members of the County government - Human Resources Department, the Prosecuting Attorney's office, the County Administrator pro tem - from the first cut of County Administrator candidates on wholly specious grounds, are a few examples. The Council, fighting to maintain power and authority, seems intent upon undoing the spirit of the charter, since they cannot change the reality of it.

Ms. Kivisto believes that they should be left alone to do as they like without criticism or comment, simply because they were elected. She appears to have missed the obvious fact that the overwhelming vote in favor of the Charter government was effectively an equally overwhelming vote of no confidence in the current Council members. She would like the Charter to "stand alone," and indeed it will if her formula is carried out.

I have another interpretation of representative democracy. It is not only our right as citizens to critique our government, it is our obligation. Everyone has equal rights in this regard: though I would love to be able to attend to my full-time job instead of attending Council meetings, I believe I owe it to myself to insist on the government I voted for. If others oppose that point of view, they have every right to attend meetings, submit letters to the papers, write editorials. Why those in the Council chamber who are doing all of those things and more are regarded as renegades instead of responsible citizens, is a puzzle only Ms. Kivisto can solve. Surely we are not being paid for our time, we are not running for office, and, metaphorically speaking, we would all rather be sailing and doing what we do to contribute to the community in other ways.

But we did not work two years for the Charter government we gained in a free election to see it founder because those responsible for implementing it are not up to that responsibility. Ms. Kivisto would like us to "let go," although she would like us to "vote, use public access time, write letters, work on advisory boards, etc." which is what, if she hadn't noticed, we are all doing. Where is the "special access" in that?

There is only one way government works successfully: when it has the consent of the governed. That is the difference between power and moral authority. If there is any "demand" in this equation it is that politicians set aside their own personal agendas in order to fulfill their responsibilities to the people who elected and pay them. If it is unpleasant for them to endure criticism, they can seek another line of work. If Ms. Kivisto wishes to abdicate her responsibility in the once-esteemed Fourth Estate by defending the status quo rather than pointing out its shortcomings, she might wish to find another line of work as well.

Susan Robins
San Juan Island
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Open Letter To Susan Robins



Dear Susan,

Is the commentary ("Who's trying to run the county?") in the sanjuanislander a surprise to anyone? I personally would like to thank both the sanjuanislander and The Journal for their bias, slanted reporting, and even more disturbing, their lack of reporting on certain issues. If it wasn't for them, the Island Guardian would not have come to be. Of the three media sources we have, only the Island Guardian makes an effort to report all points of view, prints all letters to the editor -unedited- and attempts to report what is really going on in our county government.

Is it any wonder that what is going on with our County Council is being under reported by some of our media sources? These are the same sources that came out and publicly supported the present council. If they should report the failings, secret meetings and other irregularities that are happening on a daily basis, it would be tantamount to an admission of their own errors in judgment. It also goes against their own idea of what and how things in our county should be. Today it isn't so much what is being reported it is what isn't being reported that is the problem.

I personally wish to thank you and the other people that are taking the time to attend these meetings and make your voices heard. If it was not for people like you, our local government would continue to operate only for the special interests groups and the vocal few.

In our Charter government we finally we have a system of government where the people will be listened to, and if not, then a system exists that allows us to make changes. Voting is one method, and now Initiative, Referendum and Recall are other methods. Speaking out at meetings is our constitutional right, and if some of the media doesn't like it, then to damn bad.

One of the problems we have is too many meetings are held in secret where we citizens can't speak out. I am also very grateful for the Island Guardian and the fact that we citizens have a source that reports and represents every one's opinion and not just that of the few. I would send this to the other media outlets, but the likelihood it would ever get printed is remote at best. I hope you and everyone else continues to be involved and keep up the good work.

Sincerely,
Ray Bigler
San Juan Island


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Tuesday, May 9th

Proposed ADU Ordinance Fails To Address Density



Dear Editor:

Regarding your recent article on the Proposed May 5 Ordinance on ADUS: Previous Story

As readers of my previous letter will recall, the only significant issue regarding ADU's is their impact on density. So, how does the proposed ordinance deal with that?

"Each detached accessory dwelling unit shall be counted as a separate dwelling unit for density calculations, except when allowed pursuant to an ADU permit."

That's it.

In fact, the proposed ordinance seems to be giving the finger to the whole issue of density:

> Every ...... accessory dwelling unit that do not meet the density requirement in which they are located [sic] will require an "ADU Permit."
> No more than one ADU Permit shall be issued to a property owner in any calendar year.


And finally, to really gild this particular lily:
> An application for a detached accessory dwelling unit shall include evidence of the availability on site of one equivalent residential unit [ERU] of water in addition to the water required for the principal residence." So an ADU is an ERU for water-use but not for density!

What's with those guys?

Bob Querry
San Juan

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Monday, May 8th

Soll Unaware Of Our County Soul



Dear Editor:

I encourage Larry Soll that the next time he weighs in publicly on any topic that strikes his fancy that he will "do the right thing" and preface his comments with an apology for his slurs to the opponents of the Real Estate Excise Tax: specifically to John Evans, to real estate brokers, to builders( and by association sub-contractors and tradesmen ), and to all the other so-called greedy non-caring opponents of his well-intentioned solution to the Affordable Housing dilemma.

Granted, while being only a part-time fair-weather resident Larry Soll has been a very large, enlightened, and charitable contributor towards this particular problem with his donation of land and wine sales at the Farmers Market. I am grateful for his generosity.

It is in sharp contrast to this generosity that his public comments and characterizations towards the opponents of the REET come across as small, ignorant, and cheap.

Most "community-minded" volunteers in this county make their contributions of time and money in private and they perform these not-so random acts of kindness humbly and quietly. It isn't difficult, however, to discover who these people are and what "wonderful organizations" they embody. Just go to the Fourth of July Parade or Picnic and you will find these people. Enjoy a local marathon or the Children's Festival and you will find these people. Go to a baseball game, tour a boat show, walk through a crafts fair…and you will find these people. And they are almost always the same people at every event… quite often realtors and builders. They tirelessly and gently raise money for "families (teachers, medical workers, public employees)"… and even deserving students by funding scholarships that are earned… and not granted. They are true "volunteers", they "have made substantial personal contributions" and "none will benefit personally". I am grateful for their generosity.

All of the above quotes are from a peremptory public notice from Larry Soll that are good examples of the polite rhetoric he uses to describe the "proponents "of the REET.

Here is what he has to say about the opposition:
"motivated by personal greed", "they do not care about our community", "none have given a dime to support private affordable housing efforts", and they "will move on to greener pastures once they have maximized their returns".

Maybe Larry Soll has some singular insight into our island culture that we are all missing. He definitely seems quite sure of himself.

Perhaps a person could spend a little more time here getting to know their neighbors before they comment publicly about people they don't know.

Scott Bell

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Monday, May 1st

Oh Please Already With The Jefferson Quote



Dear Editor:

I have observed for many months now that one of the most popular bumper stickers in the San Juans is "Dissent Is the Highest form of Patriotism--Thomas Jefferson." Assuming that those who sport this sticker are of a critical turn of mind, I would point out that there is no evidence whatever that Thomas Jefferson ever wrote or said such a thing. Related Weekly Nag

The statement has been so often repeated by liberal orators and newspapers that it has become a "fact." But the Jefferson Library (www.monticello.org/quotes) specifically lists this "quote" as Number One is its section of "spurious statements attributed to Jefferson." For several of these false quotes the Library provides the real speaker or writer, but knows of no father for what has become the most famous one.

It would be interesting to learn if this false quote has any ancestry earlier than the past twenty or thirty years.

Yours faithfully,
Don Baker
San Juan Island


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