The Land Bank should abandon its plan to purchase the Clure property on Lopez Island. Providing a public access corridor to the beach along San Juan Channel would impact wildlife, increase the risk of wildfires, promote erosion of the fragile bluff, lead to rampant trespassing on private property and rob property owners of a significant portion of the value of their homes.
These tidelands are fundamentally different from other public lands on Lopez. Existing public areas, such as Iceberg Point and Shark Reef Sanctuary, are geographically isolated, minimizing the impact on neighbors. Each adjoins very few private properties. That is not the case with these tidelands. More than two dozen directly adjoining private properties would be negatively impacted.
Inevitably, visitors will trespass. The tidelands are narrow except at low tide. At high tide, they are sometimes completely submerged. Visitors do not know where the tidelands end and private property begins. It would be irresponsible of the Land Bank to facilitate mass trespassing on private properties.
The county has implemented a Critical Area Ordinance designating a wide swath of private property along the shoreline as a buffer zone and essentially prohibiting us from using this land. Yet now the Land Bank proposes to open up this critical area to potentially thousands of visitors who neither know nor care about the rules. This makes no sense.
Another serious concern is fire. Visitors will light fireworks and beach fires. A wildfire would likely burn the entire bluff, leading to landslides and erosion that would threaten our homes.
We who invested our life savings buying homes here chose this neighborhood in large part because of its quiet, private beach, and we paid more because of it. Now the Land Bank proposes to take that away without any compensation. That is unfair. If this will benefit the public, why must a few homeowners absorb all of the loss?
Finally, we are dismayed that the Land Bank has proceeded so furtively, without even notifying those who are most directly affected. We view that as a serious breach of faith.
John Polstra and Peggy Means