Revisiting the Comprehensive Plan | Letter

Revisiting the Comprehensive Plan

To the Editor,

The Friends of the San Juans draw attention to the proposed Comp plan update. The update is a time for both planning and compliance review. Compliance with the basic GMA goals to:

Encourage development in urban areas, reduce sprawl in rural areas and encourage the availability of suitably zoned land for all income groups. These goals are mutually interdependent, only by encouraging growth in urban areas can sprawl in rural areas be curbed and provision made for affordable housing.

Currently, planners project housing growth of 4,180 units countywide and find a capacity for 2,691 units, of which 897 units are in the UGAs and 1,792 are in the rural areas. (DRAFT Element 2 Land Use and Rural, pgs. 5-6 ). The greater problem isn’t that CD&P is considering removing some properties from resource lands, it is that it is not planning for all the growth that is projected and the capacity for that growth is mostly in the rural areas. This is notwithstanding a required Policy to ensure that 50% of the projected growth will be provided for in the urban areas, not 33%. On Orcas Island, growth is projected as:

New Families on Orcas…………………504

Seasonal housing growth @ 174%…877

Total Orcas housing growth…………1,381 new units

That means that the Eastsound UGA should provide suitably zoned land for 1,381/2 = 690 units. In fact, current plans show an Eastsound UGA capacity of 320 units, less than half of the required 690 units placing the balance of the burden on the islands’ rural lands. The critical issue facing San Juan County is the failure to designate sufficient residential lands in the UGAs, Eastsound and, Friday Harbor for urban growth and thus, increasing development pressure on the rural lands.

For a fuller discussion, email

John M. Campbell, AIA