What They Do And Say
“Shorelines: Where We Live, Work, & Play.” That’s a charming little title for the recent “Friends” countywide mailer but I think there’s something fishy about it. The evidence is clear that the “Friends” don’t want people living, working, or playing, near the shoreline. They seek to control all human activity near the water while at the same time telling us how much they support it. What they say and what they do are very different.
What do they say about local tourism?
"Protecting our shorelines is good for our economy and our environment. Our visitors contributed over $158.5 million to our local economy last year,” said Stephanie Buffum, Executive Director of “FRIENDS” of the San Juans.
It sounds like they support tourism, right?
Not really. The “Friends” have recently taken up a fight to cripple island tourism by challenging permits at a Lopez Island resort for a modest expansion (see below). Like Rosario or Roche Harbor, small-scale island resorts benefit the local economy in many ways not the least of which is bringing customers that spend money and increase the tax base.
For a business investor, spending capital to hire attorneys and other professionals to face endless challenges by the “Friends” for a simple permit reduces potential profitability and discourages investment. How is fighting this project consistent with support for tourism or local “economic development?”
Do they really care about contributions to the local economy from tourism? Not according to what they do. They have undermined the whale watch industry by supporting the closure of the west side of San Juan to all boats (including kayaks). Does this sound like they support working and playing near the shore?
It makes no sense unless you understand the philosophy behind it. Here it is in a nutshell; they feel it is their duty to save the world from idiot hominids. If you believe humans are part of the natural world and you just want to live, work, or play here, they need to protect the islands from you. Of course the “Friends” are the enlightened hominids that obviously know the secrets of the natural universe. The enlightened ones must control all residential activity by the lesser hominids before the sea rises and the earth is destroyed.
At least they’ll excuse us for living won’t they? Not really. They’d rather we just go away.
The “Friends” goal seems to be restricting all human interaction with the environment. They support large “no-touch” buffers to keep people away from the shoreline and they’re twisting the arms of legislators to impose them.
Each new regulation is another tool in the “no growth” toolbox that their attorneys can use to run up the cost and complexity of building a single family home. This is the strategy that they have used to stop growth. Jobs mean growth and growth is bad. The result of all this regulation is making the construction of a home only affordable to those few that can navigate the expensive, arbitrary, and unpredictable regulatory schemes.
The truth is that they don’t want us idiot hominids to “live, work, and play” anywhere near the shoreline! Watch what they do not what they say.
(Gordy has been writing a fun filled -for the most part, and sometimes even fact filled- column for The Island Guardian for eight years. He has a talent for poking fun at us while pointing out the absurdness of the unintended consequences of many of our actions, and has become a must read for politicians and the populace. Gordy graduated with honors from Seattle Pacific University with a degree in Philosophy. He also attended Theological Seminary. He has spent most of his life sequestered in the remote San Juan Islands where he has survived by fishing, hunting, and growing prize-winning vegetables. He once owned a small chain of grocery stores in the islands. He has served on many committees and has held elected office. )