Land bank's support of agriculture is not what we all approved in 1990 | Letter
October 24, 2011 · Updated 2:30 PM
Know Before You Vote!
The San Juan County Council provides videos of their council meetings. If you are not able to make the meetings, you can still watch what goes on.
On Tuesday, Sept. 20, there was an item on the council agenda entitled “Presentation: San Juan County Agricultural Strategic Action Plan.” The presenters were a “collaborative” (their word) group from the Agricultural Resources Committee, the San Juan County Land Bank and the San Juan Preservation Trust.
Unlike other matters before the council, the Strategic Action Plan that the group wanted the council to approve—written by representatives of the above entities and Boyd Pratt—was not attached to the council agenda. It had not been made available to the public before the meeting. Generally, the public is able to view copies of all supporting materials.
If you are unaware of this plan or activity, you can view the county video online (select the September 20 session at 3:13 p.m.).
The presenters opined about the farms and farm easements they own—retiring farmers; the lack of farmers to farm the lands they hold; the unaffordable cost of infrastructure such as fertilizers, heavy equipment, fences and wells; the need to hire and house interns to work the farms; and the poor condition of the soils. Then, they suggested that the three taxpayer-funded entities should form yet another taxpayer-funded entity to “help” farmers. See for yourself!
Be informed when you vote and ask yourself questions like: Why isn’t the land bank focusing on obtaining conservation easements on open space—rather than purchasing urban land and farmland, making expensive improvements and leasing it at a loss? Why isn’t the land bank making all of its land accessible to the public? Why should the land bank be subsidizing the agricultural community? Don’t the taxpayers already support them with the special tax base and other programs they enjoy—the ARC, Agriculture Guild, “Brickworks,” WSU programs, Conservation District, and reduced taxes?
Do your homework and ask yourself, is the land bank still the organization that we all approved in 1990 and reapproved in 1999? I, for one, think not.
San Juan Island