On Monday, Sandra Romero chaired an Agri-tourism work session at Thurston County and rolled out the first draft of her proposed Agri-tourism ordinance.
The ordinance is designed to overlay zones that don’t currently allow agriculture and loosen regulation in an effort to promote agriculture-related business and tourism in those areas – think pumpkin patches and you-cut-it tree farms.
I read the ordinance and I was stunned.
If you were considering starting your own business – just guessing here – more customers would be a good thing? Well guess what? This ordinance will place a cap on the number of customers allowed per day. Depending on the kind of business, your customer range will be limited to 20-39 customers per day.
I know, it’s unbelievable. You’re thinking, “This has to be a joke, right?” Nope. Sorry. This is no joke. Sandra Romero, Thurston County Commissioner, actually thinks this is a good thing and will “preserve and support the agricultural industry of Thurston County as a viable economic activity…” Really now? Just to prove it, you can read the draft yourself. [download it here].
Fortunately, the electorate of Thurston County are still literate – and watching.
This ordinance is planned failure.
One note that is interesting, is Scott Longanecker, planner with Thurston County, claimed authorship of the ordinance at the beginning of the meeting. After a few objections, Sandra Romero outed him and told the committee that the ordinance was simply copied from another state. You might ask, “Where?” – Mariposa County, CALIFORNIA.
I do have to give Scott Longanecker some credit. He did a complete copy and paste of Mariposa County’s ordinance and then did a few modifications. He made it even MORE RESTRICTIVE. Just in case you would like to read the California ordinance you can [download it here].
Mariposa County, California allows bed and breakfasts in their agri-tourism ordinance, but Longanecker conveniently deleted that paragraph. Mariposa County, California also allows (5) guest rooms in their agricultural homestay, Longanecker changed that to (3).
The Thurston County Economic Development Council was at the table participating in the work session. Michael Cade, Executive Director was there. I thought that he would weigh in and talk some common sense into the Thurston County staffer and Commissioner Romero. He could have talked about free-market principles and how less regulation is good for promoting business. Unfortunately, and to my great disappointment, he didn’t. Instead, he said that the ordinance was “progressive”. He thought that there was some work that needed to be done, but he thought it was a good start.
Most members, however, did object to the ordinance including Glen Morgan, the STOP Thurston County project manager. He offered a solution to Commissioner Romero. He said that Thurston County shouldn’t waste any more time writing ordinances and if they needed a good starting point they should contact the Farm Bureau. He thought the Farm Bureau could give them an ordinance that would be good for agriculture. Nice suggestion Captain Obvious.
Thurston County needs to keep to basics: Health, Safety and Roads. STOP your social engineering experiment, you’re embarrassing yourselves. Government need not be flashy or trendy. Just keep it to the basics. Find ways to reduce restrictions, STOP piling them on.