September 11, 2017 Wendy Harris
I have been informed that “Liberty Road” has invited private property rights advocates to swarm the County Council Public Hearings and Open Session tomorrow night. Among the purported offenses are public hearings for an Ordinance amending Whatcom County Code 8.13, Solid Waste Disposal District, regarding the Solid Waste Excise Privilege Tax (AB2017-244) and an Ordinance amending Whatcom County Code Title 20 Zoning and the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan relating to cumulative impervious surface coverage standards (AB2017-195).
I suspect this is at least in part an attempt to divert attention from some important issues regarding the Critical Area Ordinance Update. Rud Browne is doing the bidding of the agricultural community by trying to use the definitions section to allow farmers to operate under the more forgiving USDA rules for wetlands, while everyone else who wants to comply with the GMA will be following the DOE rules. This was one of the very first battles we had when began work began on the CAO more than 2 years ago. There is also a lot more crazy nonsense from Barbara who continues to substitute her personal values for the actual legal requirements of the GMA. http://www.co.whatcom.wa.us/DocumentCenter/View/30296
Please come and speak at open session about the need to send the CAO back for more review or even better, handling by a professional. It is not ready to move forward and bre approved because it does not comply with the GMA. This was already the holding of the Planning Commission.
The primary and fatal problem is that the entire CAO should be based on Best Available Science in order to ensure no new loss of critical area and ecosystem function. And where no BAS exists, there are rules for how to proceed under an adaptive management approach.
Staff has not only refused to adopt and incorporate Best Available Science, it refuses to adopt and incorporate updated legal standards that were adopted by the legislative in 2010 into the Minimum Guidelines of WAC 365-190. I heard arguments about how the WACs were not “real” laws despite being required by under the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) by the state legislature.
And unless people speak out, the council intends to continue to allow farm plan secrecy. There is no other public health and safety provision that is kept secret from the people it is intended to benefit and to date, no one has been able to give me one good reason why the farmers need this, other than that they do not want the government to know their business.
Most people are unaware that farm plans are considered voluntary and incentive based, but they have been failing us for at least 30 years. The farmers and WCD continue to insist on using the same broken system with only minor changes.
After all the fires and smoke and hurricanes and flooding and devastation we have been through lately, isn’t it time we start taking the health of our ecosystems seriously? They create resilience which helps us survive these increasingly extreme and unpredictable weather events. Following the Critical Area Rules is not optional, although the farm community would have you believe this. We have known for many years how important it is to protect ecosystem function. That is why these rules were a core part of the GMA enacted in 1990.
I hope you can come out and let the council finally see that there is a large base of people who support strong environmental laws to protect the land, air and water and all the life that it sustains. The evening meeting starts at 7 PM.
Please thank the council and staff for their hard work, but acknowledge that it does not comply with the GMA and we can not continue to risk lengthy and expensive litigation which is unnecessary.