We are writing in regard to the proposed acquisition of the Clure properties on Lopez Island by the Land Bank.
We own, and have owned for 49 years, lots 10 and 11 in Sunset Acres (SA). Lot 11 is the southernmost lot in SA and is on the northern border of the 2 mile stretch of beach that the Land Bank is considering opening to the public through the Clure acquisition.
We would like to relate our experience with the beach that SA owns since the Otis Perkins Day Park was created, which abetted access by the public to the Sunset Acres beach. Prior to the Perkins Day Park our beach was pretty much inaccessible and remained in a natural state. Since then, in spite of conspicuous County signs warning that the beach to the South of the Perkins Day Park was private, we have found many signs of human encroachment and especially illegal fires on the beach, several of which have scorched grasses that are on the hillside and which could easily spread up the bank and cause major property damage to the houses above. We also see many “structures” built of driftwood gathered from our property, including a massive one that was perched on top of Big Rock at Rock Point.
The very concerning damage, which you may or may not have heard of, was done to “Big Rock” several years ago. FYI, Big Rock gave Rock Point its name and is a charted navigational feature and has a National Geodetic Survey Marker on top. We, as owners of Lot 11 of SA are also the owners of Big Rock, as can be seen on the SJC Polaris app. Some parties unknown set a very large bonfire up against the East face of Big Rock and as a result a huge slab of rock fell off. Fortunately no one seems to have been hurt when the slabs of rock fell and hopefully no one will be hurt when another slab falls (it appears that the fire opened up another fissure in the rock which may fall at any time). There is no reason to think that the opening of the 2 miles of beach south of Sunset Acres, through the Clure acquisition, will not lead to the same abuse of private property and the “near pristine” beach.
A look at the plat of Lot 11, SA, on Polaris will show that Big Rock is connected to the main body of Lot 11, even at maximum high tide, so that it is impossible, without wading in knee deep water, to walk down the beach without crossing over our private property. The establishment of Otis Perkins Park has brought untold numbers of trespassers onto our property, as well as the beach property of SA owners and the owners of several lots in SA who still own their tidelands. The placement of County signage is obviously not a deterrent and never will be. It is hard to imagine how any signage at the Clure end of the beach will be any more effective at keeping people off the private uplands of the beach and setting bonfires and leaving trash behind.
As an aside, SA owns 800 feet of beach immediately North of Otis Perkins Day Park and has offered that beach to the Land Bank. Land Bank has offered SA a nominal amount of $2,000 and is in the process of finalizing that purchase. This is an extremely modest amount and legalizes the use of that beach by the public. The use of nearly $1 million in taxpayer money to enable access to 2 miles of the same beach boggles the mind.
We feel that the Land Bank needs to look at what its priorities are in regard to public access to the majesty and environmental value of the San Juan Islands. We find it ironic that the letter from the Land Bank that was posted in the Islands Weekly, Tue, Nov 15th, 2016, begins …”two miles of nearly pristine beach may become accessible for nature viewing and long walks.” As can be attested by our experience in SA with public access to beaches, legal or illegal, the beach will NOT remain pristine. The Land Bank is evidently focusing on acquiring property to enable increased hiking everywhere on the island rather than making responsible decisions that take environmental effects of their actions into account.
The 2 mile beach in question is currently legally accessible by boat, and it would seem that is a viable use of the beach which will preserve it in its “nearly pristine condition”. We strongly urge the Commissioners to not pursue the purchase of the Clure properties and save +/- $1 million for other worthy acquisitions which will not pose the same threats of harmful damage to the Island’s environment and the properties of private property owners.
Carol Purvis, George and Alice McCain, and Jay McCain