War of the press releases | Editorial

San Juan County and the Common Sense Alliance have created a mess.

For those not deeply entrenched in the Critical Areas Ordinance, here is what recently occurred.

San Juan County has a 314-page draft shoreline inventory and characterization report, along with maps, posted on its website. The report sets the baseline for the ecological functions and values of the shoreline the county will have to protect in the future.

Citizens were encouraged to submit comments on the “Shoreline Inventory and Characterization” report for the Shoreline Master Program. The deadline was April 30.

In mid-April, the Common  Sense Alliance citizens’ group circulated a comment form and a set of instructions to help homeowners with the report.

Early last week, the county released a statement that asserted the materials were a “hoax” and that it had received a number of complaints.  The county purported to have no idea who sent out the false information.

Soon after, the CSA released its own statement that included the following: “We do not believe that these materials included any misrepresentations or inaccurate information and we did our best to make the tedious process of reviewing the ‘Inventory and Characterization’ manageable for our shoreline neighbors.”

The county then announced a clarification: “Neither staff nor council members were familiar with the forms and planner Colin Maycock, who heads the Shoreline Master Program update and is responsible for gathering and organizing comments on the Shoreline Inventory and Characterization Report, was not aware of the form’s existence … on Tuesday, the county learned that the form was created by an attorney for the Common Sense Alliance, a local property rights group.”

Hey, county and the Common Sense Alliance: could anyone have picked up the phone or sent an email concerning this?

Misleading forms, accusations of a “hoax,” angry homeowners caught in the middle – what is going on here? Why didn’t CSA tell the county about this official-looking form? Why didn’t the county investigate a bit further before calling it a scam?

All this drama gets in the way of the bottom line: we need to finish up the CAO. It’s long, long overdue to the state.