County planners earlier this week released a draft of revisions to a stream-conservation ordinance that retains many building regulations near waterways but eases restrictions on property owners seeking minor improvements that do not affect the nearby habitat.
The proposed ordinance, which applies to all properties in unincorporated areas that are within the so-called stream conservation area, is the latest step in what has turned into a race by the county to ease building restrictions on homeowners while seeking an end to litigation involving the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN). It does not include properties within the coastal zone.
The proposal comes more than two weeks after the county agreed to spend an additional $50,000 to fight SPAWN, which argues the county has failed to adequately protect waterways with building policies it considers too lenient. Under the proposed ordinance, property owners seeking minimal improvements complying with certain policies protecting vegetation and other wildlife, like building or restoring a patio, would not require a permit. Other types of development, like building or restoring a home, would require a permit.
The county’s Community Development Agency has scheduled a meeting on March 14, when planners will take comments from the public, before seeking approval from supervisors in June.