ORCAA & The West Wind

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Talk to most any candidate for most any office in Grays Harbor as well as your average resident and there’s one word that people fly to like bees to pollen: Jobs.(Joe Biden would call that a “three letter word.” But you’re better than that.)

Funny thing about jobs. It kind of helps to have businesses around so that people who are looking for work have some actual, real work available. For our DemoLib readers, that’s called the “free market.”  And that kind of presents a problem. In fact, if you’ve ever wondered why it’s so difficult to get certain businesses up and running in Grays Harbor – or keep them up and running – you may want to raise your right hand and repeat after me: ORCAA. ORCAA. ORCAA.

What is ORCAA (besides a royal pain the neck)? It stands for Olympic Regional Clean Air Agency (ORCAA).  ORCAA’s mission is “to promote air quality and take actions to protect the health and welfare of people and the natural environment.” Its jurisdiction includes Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties.

ORCAA has, in the words of Grays Harbor County Commissioner Wes Cormier, “a lot of authority.” They can shut down a business in a heartbeat in the name of “air quality.” And a bunch of other stuff.

You don’t want to run afoul of the ORCAA Nazis if you’re a contractor trying to keep your business above water. Or a homeowner trying to clean up from the January flood. Or the guy next door trying to open a “coffee roaster.”

Take a gander at the fee increases ORCAA has in place as of last week. That’s okay. I’ll wait.


Commissioner Cormier, who’s an ORCAA member, presented the “good news” at the Board of Commissioner’s morning meeting on Monday. (Yes, I’m being facetious. If you had to ask, you haven’t been following this blog very long. That’s okay. Remedial classes can be taken in the Archives.)

So, picked yourself up off the floor yet? If you want to engender another coronary – and I’m not encouraging this, mind you – tiptoe over to the last column on the right, Average Overall % Increase. Not recommended if you’re running low on HCTZ. Just sayin’.

Commissioner Cormier and State Senator Tim Sheldon voted No on the ORCAA extortio… um… fee increases.

Now then, don’t even ask what the “complexity fee” column means. I already did. Pity the poor coffee roaster guy who has to figure this out. Cuz I was told something about the agency trying to cover the cost of running the program based on how much time is spent on processing the permit. Or:

If the filing fee is the square root of an isosceles triangle multiplied by the equipment cost which is divided by pi when the wind is from the west and the house just landed on the Wicked Witch, how many pancakes will fit on a roof?

No wonder it’s so hard to stay above water around here. And I’m not talkin’ H2O.