Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for Dec. 30

Protecting community investments

Several recent letters to the editor have voiced concerns over the Olympia City Council’s adoption of an interim ordinance that would make it possible for a one-time, two-year extension of the expiration date for certain already approved, but not yet completed, subdivision plats.

There’s a misconception that this temporary provision is a free pass for all developers, and that the community is ill-served by allowing this interim measure to occur. That’s simply not the case.

There are only a handful of projects eligible for the one-time extension. These projects were approved during a specified period of time and are already in various stages of being developed, but sit idle due to the unprecedented economic downturn.

Land development is somewhat speculative and involves risks, but no one could have anticipated the economic downturn of the magnitude we are all experiencing. Developing our community’s future neighborhoods involves extensive commitments from not only developers, but financial institutions, city staff, local infrastructure, local businesses and local jobs.

The process to accomplish these commitments involves an incredibly lengthy land development process that can take years to complete even in the best of economic times. Protecting this process and all that is tied to it is the right thing to do.

Olympia isn’t the only city going down this path. Jurisdictions such as Seattle, Puyallup, Pierce and King counties have adopted similar ordinances. This isn’t about protecting the developers. It’s about protecting the investments being made in our community. There’s a big difference.

RON DEERING - President, Olympia Master Builders

Climbing comes with risks

The story about the climbers on Mount Hood was full of very strange quotes and unreasonable expectations. Jim Bernard, a commissioner in Clackamas County who claims to be a climber, was quoted saying, “People are dying for no reason. We need to find a way to protect them.”

What would this be, a boardwalk with hand rails to the summit?

Mountaineering is risky and climbing under winter conditions is riskier still. The two accidents mentioned in the article were both under winter conditions. The four missing climbers would likely not have been found alive and more likely were swept into a crevasse from which their bodies would never be recovered.

A locator beacon may have allowed location of the body, but that does not mean they could have been recovered, and an attempted body recovery likely would have put a score of rescuers at risk.

Accidents will always happen in the mountains and people will sometimes die from them. No technology will stop this. Locator beacons, avalanche beacons, cell phones, and search and rescue teams can occasionally save lives, but often turn into body recoveries.

With beacons and cell phones, you have to expect that the device is on and the batteries have not died after several days out. I use an avalanche beacon, but those are for self-rescue, not the expectation that a rescue team can reach me in time to save me after being caught in an avalanche. That would be an unreasonable expectation.

MICHAEL RILEY, Olympia

Port in compliance with Ecology permit

The Port of Olympia as an owner-operator of a marine terminal facility complies with a Department of Ecology-issued industrial stormwater general permit. Ecology’s most recent permit covering the port’s activities was issued on Oct. 21.

The port follows and exceeds Ecology’s best management practices for log sort yards. The port works regularly with Ecology on inspections and reporting.

Because the port is in full compliance with Ecology’s permit, the port was disappointed that attorneys for Olympians for Public Accountability recently filed a lawsuit against the port.

We were especially surprised by OPA’s action because last year, OPA and the port entered a binding agreement. The port committed more than $100,000 to perform extended environmental testing. OPA agreed not to sue the port for any violations prior to 2009; the port has had no subsequent violations.

We believe OPA’s allegations are scientifically unfounded.

For example, Ecology has identified “nutrient loading” — not port runoff — as the source of contaminants causing the low-dissolved oxygen problem in Budd Inlet. Puget Sound Partnership’s action agenda supports this finding. Nutrient loading is human and animal wastes, lawn products and other upstream sources.

The port is, and intends to continue to be, in full compliance with the general permit. We will continue to work with OPA, and we are optimistic that together we can achieve an early and successful resolution.

JOANNE SNARSKI - Environmental program manager, Port of Olympia

Republican Party sinks to new low

It is sad to see how far the Republican Party has sunk being replaced by the Democrat Party moderates. At a time when the party should be involved tamping down the extremes of their nexus, the Democrat Party liberals, they took an extremist position and scream politics from the sidelines.

Hopefully, the new political movement, the Tea Party, will become the home of the right-wing fringe, and the Republican Party once again will be able to provide problem-solving debate.

KEVIN HANCOCK, Olympia

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