Tree protections? Planning for growth? Your help is needed by Sept 14!

Posted September 9, 2021 at 5:45 am by

The fol­low­ing arti­cle is shared with you by R. Brent Lyles, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Friends of the San Juans

It’s time to spring into action! On the morn­ing of Tues­day, Sep­tem­ber 14th, the Coun­ty Coun­cil will hold a hear­ing on the 2021 dock­et. This year’s dock­et includes pro­pos­als for new tree-pro­tec­tion stan­dards, stormwa­ter-man­age­ment stan­dards, and doing an impor­tant “build-out analy­sis” for our Coun­ty. These all deserve our community’s atten­tion and sup­port. The pur­pose of the Coun­cil’s hear­ing is to get pub­lic input — the Coun­ty Coun­cil is ask­ing to hear from you! You can write a let­ter or show up (vir­tu­al­ly) to speak at the meet­ing, or both.

Why this is important:
At Friends of the San Juans, we’ve spent a lot of time in recent months sup­port­ing the Plan­ning Commission’s efforts to do the right thing with respect to envi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship in our Coun­ty. The Plan­ning Com­mis­sion has now sent its rec­om­men­da­tions on the dock­et requests to the Coun­ty Coun­cil, and it’s the Coun­ty Coun­cil that makes the final deci­sions. Now is the time to speak out on these dock­et requests. Let’s make sure the Coun­ty Coun­cil mem­bers hear from the pub­lic loud and clear when they are mak­ing their decisions.

There are eight dock­et requests in total, and here’s the run­down of where Friends of the San Juans stands on the four that we feel are espe­cial­ly impor­tant (see also Friends’ com­ment let­ter here, which pro­vides addi­tion­al details):

  • 21–0001, Com­mer­cial Com­post­ing on Agri­cul­tur­al Resource Lands — DISAGREE with the Plan­ning Commission’s rec­om­men­da­tion. There are LOTS of oth­er places to put much-need­ed indus­tri­al com­post­ing oper­a­tions in our Coun­ty, oth­er than on high­ly pro­tect­ed and high­ly valu­able Agri­cul­tur­al Resource Lands. Those parcels were set aside for agri­cul­ture for a rea­son — let’s keep it that way. It makes a lot of sense for small­er-scale, site-spe­cif­ic com­post­ing to be co-locat­ed with farm­ing and live­stock, but indus­tri­al com­post­ing is a whole oth­er thing; any­one who says com­mer­cial com­post­ing is com­pat­i­ble with agri­cul­ture oper­a­tions prob­a­bly has­n’t seen how big and indus­tri­al a com­mer­cial com­post­ing oper­a­tion actu­al­ly is.
  • 21–0003, “Build-Out Analy­sis” — DISAGREE with the Plan­ning Commission’s rec­om­men­da­tion. Despite a ton of pub­lic sup­port for this, the Coun­ty staff argued that doing a thor­ough build-out analy­sis isn’t fea­si­ble or valu­able. To their cred­it, the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion tried to find a mid­dle ground and ask for a more lim­it­ed analy­sis, but the Coun­ty staff is push­ing back against that too. We agree that a full build-out analy­sis is a big project, but giv­en the real­i­ties of rapid devel­op­ment in our Coun­ty and the cli­mate cri­sis, the infor­ma­tion that our Coun­ty would get from this kind of analy­sis is just sim­ply too impor­tant to kick down the road any further.
  • 21–0005, Cre­at­ing New Tree-Pro­tec­tion Stan­dards — AGREE with the Plan­ning Commission’s rec­om­men­da­tion. We’re glad to see the Coun­ty staff and Plan­ning Com­mis­sion mem­bers tak­ing this seri­ous­ly, and we’re delight­ed to sup­port their rec­om­men­da­tion to move for­ward with this.
  • 21–0008, Cre­at­ing New Stormwa­ter-Man­age­ment Reg­u­la­tions — AGREE with the Plan­ning Commission’s rec­om­men­da­tion. Dit­to for this one — we’re enthu­si­as­tic about get­ting mov­ing on this much-need­ed addi­tion to our Coun­ty’s codes.

Click here to see the most recent memo about these dock­et requests from the Coun­ty staff, which is help­ful for get­ting the lay of the land on all eight dock­et requests — see espe­cial­ly the tables in the staff’s memo.

What’s next?
When peo­ple like you “lean in” and speak at a Coun­ty Coun­cil hear­ing, it makes a pow­er­ful state­ment. Please con­sid­er show­ing up on the 14th, either by phone or via video: Click here for instruc­tions on how to do that. Also, please con­sid­er writ­ing a let­ter to the Coun­ty Coun­cil, care of Sophia Cas­sam at If you’ve already writ­ten a great let­ter to the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion about the dock­et, feel free to resend that same let­ter again, this time to the Coun­ty Coun­cil! And we’d encour­age you to also send your let­ter direct­ly to the Coun­cil mem­ber who rep­re­sents your island. If it’s help­ful, we’ve pro­vid­ed some tips on let­ter-writ­ing on this web­page, and we also record­ed a short video seg­ment with the San Juan Islands Com­mu­ni­ty Net­work about tips for engage­ment, which can be found here.

Thank you for speak­ing up! If you have any ques­tions, please reach out to Friends of the San Juans’ Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, R. Brent Lyles, at

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Categories: Environment, Nature

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