Letter from Mary Ann and Larry Bailey to Land Bank

(360) 468-3217

November 15, 2016

SJC Land Bank Commissioners
350 Court Street, # 6
Friday Harbor,WA 98250
Attn : Lincoln Bormann, Director

Re: Proposed Acquisition of Clure Property on Lopez Island

Ladies and Gentlemen:

We are writing you to express our extreme opposition, along with all of our
i immediate neighbors, to the acquisition of the Clure Property by the Land Bank. We have been residents of Lopez Island since 1975 and own the property immediately adjacent to the proposed acquisition. There are numerous reasons why this acquisition should not be approved, including :

  • degradation of what preservelopezshoreline.org refers to as a “nearly pristine beach”;
  • harm to wildlife( including an eagles nest, the Shark Reef National Wildlife Preserve, beach, nesting birds, otters, and seals);
  • overcrowding and traffic congestion;
  • safety concerns because of our unstable feeder bluff;
  • the safety of our persons and property;
  • the devaluation of our real estate: and
  • the violation of our property rights in the existing beach access.

In addition to these reasons, we believe this acquisition would violate the mandate of the Land Bank as set forth in the SJC Code, to wit:

“2.120.010 Purpose.
A. The purpose of the San Juan County citizens conservation land bank is to preserve in perpetuity areas in the County that have environmental, agricultural, aesthetic, cultural, scientific, historic, scenic or low-intensity recreational value, and to protect existing and future sources of potable water.”

In short, we cannot comprehend how this acquisition would “preserve In perpetuity” this property by in effect converting it into a public park.In fact, we believe it would do just the opposite.

Furthermore, we cannot understand how this acquisition in the words of the Land Bank would “ensure that the distinct character of life in these islands will endure,” to wit: “Over the years, islanders have feasted on clams, hunted for deer, picked berries, dug bulbs, and fished waters teeming with salmon. They have plowed fertile valleys, seeding their fields with peas, oats, wheat, and barley. On gentle slopes they have planted large orchards with pears, plums, apples, and cherries. Their sheep and cattle once roamed at will. Even today, island living is bounded by the seasons and centered around an easy-going sociability. It also signifies what it is to live in a climate of mutual respect and tolerance, however begrudging and hard earned. These are the qualities that bind us to one another and the land.Islanders agree it is important to ensure that the distinct character of life in these islands will endure.”

We just learned of this proposed acquisition last week.This property was not included in the Land Bank’s original 2016 Budget and Acquisition Plan approved by the SJC Council .We are concerned that the Land Bank is rushing to judgement without proper evaluation of the property and the effect its acquisition will have on the property, the adjacent beach, and adjacent neighbors. We are also concerned that since you have already initiated fundraising on Lopez Rocks that you have already made your decision, notwithstanding the State and SJ County Open Meeting, Notice, and Public Hearing Requirements.

By way of background, the Clure property comprises just two (2) of the ten (10) parcels of the old Rowland and Marion Davies farm which totaled approximately 56 acres. Like many old Lopezians, the Davies sold off parcels of their property in the early 1970’s to support their retirement. The Davies granted each parcel a beach access easement. Modest cabins and homes were built on all of the parcels by 1972, except the Clure parcels which have never been occupied. The other parcel owners have maintained the beach access easement as a neighborhood project for the past 46 years, limiting vehicular access to protect the beach. The neighbors have worked diligently to protect the beach from further degradation and erosion from excessive storm runoff caused by the continued expansion of the Lopez airport over the years.We believe we have been good stewards of the beach and our access easement and maintained it in as “pristine” a condition as possible. Public ownership will not preserve and protect this property more than it already is.In fact,it will do just the opposite.

In addition, this beach is not threatened by development. The Clure property can only be permitted for two homes, a negligible impact on the property and the beach. The tidelands are public and are open to public use. Yes, they are now only accessible by boat because Lopezians to the north adjoining Otis Perkins Park are presently denying access, after allowing it for decades.

One also has to question the proposal’s statement that the”wild and remote flavor” of the beach will become available for “community” use when experience shows the vast majority of users will be summer tourists and “wild and remote” will be gone like the wind. In this regard, the Lopez BLM office advises that over 18,600 people have used Watmough Bay this year and over 17,000 have used Iceberg Point. The County does not keep a tally of visitors to Shark Reef Park,but it is presently replacing the trail with boardwalks because of damage to the parkland from excessive use. We can bear witness to the high volume at the Park as many tourists mistakenly drive down our lane looking for the the trail to the Park. The bottom line is that this acquisition will attract thousands of people into our neighborhood and severely disrupt our Lopezian quality of life and destroy the fragile environment of the beach front and the uplands.

Lopez already has many excellent public parks, public beaches and public beach access points. To our knowledge, none of these recreational areas impact neighborhoods like this acquisition would. Further, none of these areas are as fragile as this marine environment. How could any environmentally conscious person even consider opening another ”wild and remote” place on Lopez to tourists. The Land Bank‘s purpose is to “ensure that the distinct character of life in these islands will endure,” not act as an adjunct tourist board or trails association.

We urge the Land Bank Commissioners to reject the Clure property acquisition and to save our neighborhood and its fragile marine environment.

Respectfully submitted,

Mary Ann Bailey

Larry Bailey