‘Pit-to-pier’ firm appeals Jefferson County’s Shoreline Master Plan- PDN

The Peninsula Daily News reports today that the Thorndyke Resources Project will take a legal challenge on the Shoreline Master Plan to the Growth Management Board. Given what the PDN reports, it seems unlikely to be successful, but hope springs eternal with these folks, and they apparently have the money to hire the lawyers to challenge it. 

Read the whole story here:

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140418/news/304189970/-8216-pit-to-pier-8217-firm-appeals-jefferson-county-8217-s

 

 

Jefferson County – Michelle McConnell leaves for Ecology

Michelle McConnell, who has been a stalwart at the Jefferson County Dept. of Community Development for many years, has chosen to leave and work for the Department of Ecology. Michelle has had the extremely hard job of shepherding the Shoreline Master Program through over the last 8 years. She has always been a steady hand and been a sea of calm in the midst of turbulent public meetings over the SMP. We will miss her guidance on these issues. No word on a replacement yet. Best of luck to Michelle in future endeavors.

I’m pleased to announce I have accepted a new job and will be leaving DCD the week of April 7; my new position will be as a Shoreline Planner with WA Department of Ecology.

I have learned a lot during my eight years with the County and it has been both challenging and rewarding to have served as Project Manager for major, multi-year projects including the Shoreline Master Program Update and Watershed Stewardship Resource Center/SquareONE.  I’m proud of the many positive contributions I’ve made to the never-ending, fast-paced and varied work of DCD.

Thanks to all the good folks I’ve met and worked with along the way!

Best wishes,

Michelle

Jefferson County shoreline program gains state approval

February 12th. So it’s finally done. No thanks to The Department of Ecology for stonewalling our County  on banning net pens in our county for years, on behalf of the net pen industry. It has been an incredibly divisive effort, that has called into question  Ecology’s mission and their allegiances. Their intransigence in being unwilling to look at the issues and concerns of citizens and their representatives who have legitimate questions about the net pen industry seemed to be entirely self serving of that industry, instead of supporting those who are spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars trying to recover wild fish. While just to the north of us in British Columbia, the scientific evidence continues to mount that net pens are very likely to be contributing to the decline in those stocks.

Much thanks to County Commissioner Phil Johnson who fought for the ban tooth and nail for many years, along with David Sullivan and John Austin, to Michelle McConnell for sheparding this through, the two volunteer groups that spent years going over the existing Program and updating it, and for the Planning Commission all of whom took time to deliberate whether what was done was acceptable. It was a Herculian task. Also thanks to the Jefferson County Democrats, who have fought hard at the State level to promote banning net pens in our waters.

Ecology webpage about our SMP Update (with related documents)

The new SMP (full document, non-codified version; 40 MB)
http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/shorelines/smp/mycomments/jefferson.html

Press release announcement

OLYMPIA — The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has approved Jefferson County’s updated shoreline master program.
The county’s shoreline program will result in significant improvements in the water quality, protection, use, development and restoration of about 250 miles of marine shorelines including Hood Canal and the Strait of Juan de Fuca; roughly 600 miles of river shorelines, including portions of the Quinault, Hoh, Elwha and Dungeness rivers; as well as along the shores of numerous lakes and streams.

Jefferson County is one of nearly 90 local governments that have completed shoreline program updates. The new master program combines local plans for future shoreline development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.

Before they can take effect, each locally-tailored city and county shoreline master program must be approved by Ecology to affirm compliance with the state’s 1972 voter-approved Shoreline Management Act (SMA) and the most current shoreline master program regulations.

About 150 cities and counties statewide are in the process of, or soon will be, updating or crafting their master programs.

“We are pleased with how the new shoreline program addresses net pens and establishes local controls that include a conditional use permitting process,” said Sally Toteff, Ecology Southwest and Olympic Region director.

The conditional use permit process allows the county to evaluate proposals based on site-specific concerns, and to require mitigation or use other measures to offset impacts. Any permit application would also trigger an environmental review under the State Environmental Policy Act.

Shoreline master programs are the cornerstone of the SMA. The law requires cities and counties with regulated shorelines to develop and periodically update their locally tailored programs to help minimize environmental damage to shoreline areas, reserve appropriate areas for water-oriented uses, and protect the public’s right to public lands and waters.

“It’s very impressive how Jefferson County brought diverse local interests to the table to work collaboratively through tough issues,” Toteff said.

Jefferson County conducted extensive public outreach and facilitated technical and policy advisory committees. The committees included shoreline property owners and experts from various disciplines and agencies.

The county’s shoreline master program:

  • Provides shoreline regulations that are integrated with the Jefferson County growth management planning and zoning, floodplain management and critical areas ordinances as part of a unified development code.
  • Limits new stair towers in landslide hazard and feeder bluff areas.
  • Limits the length of new residential docks and piers.
  • Encourages soft-bank erosion control methods and limits construction of new shoreline armoring such as bulkheads.
  • Includes a restoration plan showing where and how voluntary improvements in water and upland areas can enhance the local shoreline environment.
  • Helps support the broader initiative to protect and restore Puget Sound.
  • Once approved by Ecology, the local shoreline plan becomes part of the state shoreline master program. If needed, the department will help defend Jefferson County’s shoreline program against legal challenges.
  • All of Washington’s cities and counties with regulated shorelines are updating their programs to meet a December 2014 deadline. They are following regulations adopted in 2003 that resulted from a negotiated settlement among 58 different parties including business interests, ports, environmental groups, shoreline user groups, cities and counties, Ecology and the courts.

# # #

Media Contacts:

Linda Kent, 360-791-9830, linda.kent@ecy.wa.gov; @ecySW

South Sound Activist Sue Patnude Joins Sound Action Board of Directors

Sound Action is shaping up to becoming a force to be reckoned with in protecting the Sound. The problem this is trying to solve is that while many people may feel that shoreline protection is overly regulated, the reality is that there is no enforcement of the regulations in many jurisdictions, and the people who should be enforcing laws are being paid by the people wanting the approvals. This not only leads to lax or no enforcement of laws and rubber stamping of anything that is put in front of them, but frustration from citizens that are made to jump through regulatory hoops to find out that the laws have no teeth. I heard, not very long ago,  one county planner say to a public gathering that, “well there’s no real money to do enforcement so I wouldn’t worry about it.”  Do you want real protection of the Sound? Then you are going to have to rely on organizations like Sound Action to demand it. 

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2/17/14 NEWS RELEASE: 

Sue Patnude of Olympia and Elma, Washington, has joined the board of directors of Sound Action, an environmental watchdog group dedicated to protecting the health of Puget Sound’s nearshore habitats and species.

Patnude is principal consultant in environmental policy management at Patnude and Associates and has extensive experience working for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Washington Department of Ecology, and for the City of Ocean Shores and Grays Harbor Regional Planning.

Patnude currently serves as executive director of the Deschutes Estuary Restoration Team (DERT), which seeks to restore the Deschutes River to a healthy estuary.

“Puget Sound needs accountability and regulation enforcement,” said Patnude, “and I look forward to working with people supporting Sound Action and who are unafraid to speak out. We need to openly discuss and find solutions on the hard stuff if we are going to be successful in cleaning up our waters and having healthy habitat.”

Sound Action was launched in 2013 to watchdog government application of nearshore regulations protecting habitat and species. It has reviewed state hydraulic permits for Puget Sound marine in-water construction and appealed those permits failing to meet protection standards. 

In 2014, Sound Action focuses on state legislation affecting Puget Sound, watchdogs the state revision of the hydraulics code, and continues to insist that every hydraulic project approval incorporates environmental protections required by law.

Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners Adopts SMP

The Board of County Commissioners took formal action to adopt the new Shoreline Master Program with supporting documents by unanimous vote this morning, December 16, 2013. Staff is preparing to forward the updated SMP to Ecology for final adoption and anticipates the new program will be in effect by mid-January 2014. Final documents will be posted online when available.

We thank all the County Commissioners for their diligent and determined work to bring a high standard to the environmental protection of our shores. Many dozens of people have worked for over 8 years on this project. It’s the belief of this writer that they have done the best job they could, given the contentious issues, and now to move on stronger protections of this fragile shore.

As to the issue of net pen aquaculture in Jefferson County, it is this writer’s belief that there should be a significant independent scientific study done, perhaps by the Sea Grant folks at the UW who just completed the 6 year geoduck study, to explore the effects of the net pen industry on benthic layers beneath the pens, as well as possible wider effects due to disease and sea lice.  Since DOE relies on science, and the science hasn’t been updated since the 1980′s (at best), it is time to revisit this. There is much water under the bridge on this issue since those days. As we wait for this science to be documented, there should be a moratorium on new net pens in Puget Sound and the greater Salish Sea (i.e. Hood Canal and the Strait of Juan de Fuca). All existing pens should be allowed to continue to exist (if financially viable) but no new ones should be added until we understand whether this is hurting the efforts to re-establish wild salmon or not. We are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to bring back wild fish. We have no idea of whether sea lice and disease vectors in the pens are harming salmon, rock fish and other species in serious decline.

Jefferson County SMP to finally be adopted! Dec 16th

No really! After local adoption, the County will then forward the new Shoreline Master Program (SMP)  to Ecology for final adoption and anticipates the new program will be in effect by mid-January 2014.

From Michelle McConnell of the Department of Community Development:

Monday, December 16, 2013

City of Port Townsend’s Cotton Building

(former Police station)

607 Water Street – downtown

See the Board’s agenda (to be posted on Friday) for final estimated time (likely ~ 10:30am). The meeting is open to the public – please note this is not a public hearing.

This has been a long and collaborative project for our community and your involvement has been important – whether you just tuned-in or have been following this for years, whether just tracking progress via web & email updates, submitting comments, attending the many public hearings and outreach events, or participating in the extensive advisory committees and Planning Commission process.  The result is an updated Shoreline Master Program that is robust and flexible, rooted in current science, reflective of local values, and better able to address the diversity of our approximate 500 miles of lake, river, and saltwater shorelines under SMP jurisdiction.  The SMP gives us all a much-improved toolbox for allowing appropriate waterfront development in balance with our fragile natural resources:  Let’s Do More With Our Shores:  Protect – Use – Develop – Restore!

Jefferson County SMP – Latest Update

Status of Final Adoption – From the Jefferson County Department of Community Development

After much consideration and additional public input, the Board and Ecology have agreed on proposed provisions to regulate finfish aquaculture. Ecology’s September approval concludes the County’s formal response to the State’s required and recommended changes. Staff is working to prepare the final SMP document and it’s adopting ordinance and a resolution for the supplemental technical documents. The Board is anticipated to take formal action to adopt the new SMP with supporting documents in mid-November. The County will then submit the new SMP to Ecology for final adoption and anticipates the new program will be in effect by mid-December 2013.

County files restraining order against developer – Port Townsend Leader

The Leader covers a story of a shoreline landowner along Hood Canal, who has been the subject of years of requests by the County to stop work and satisfy basic development conditions, such as landslide prevention, drainage systems, shoreline protection, etc. The landowner in question, has avoided the sheriff, and fled whenever they have approached. The land in question is covered by the current Shoreline Master Program protections and the Critical Areas Ordinance. (CAO). It’s just astonishing that the county has taken over 9 years to actually act against this guy, who’s neighbors are complaining that they are concerned that he is destabilizing both their banks as well as his.

Read the whole story here:
http://www.ptleader.com/news/county-files-restraining-order-against-developer/article_aece97c6-256a-11e3-80d1-0019bb30f31a.html

Latest on Clallam County SMP

From Clallam County:

The Draft (Nov. 2012) Shoreline Master Program (SMP) revisions are still in progress.  Work also continues on the following three SMP update related documents (addressing west-end rivers/lakes subject to the SMP update found within Watershed Resource Inventory Area 20 (WRIA 20) that drain to the Pacific Ocean):

1.      WRIA 20 Draft Cumulative Impacts Analysis and No Net Loss Report.

2.      WRIA 20 Draft Shoreline Restoration Plan.

3.      WRIA 20 Draft Channel Migration Zone (CMZ) Maps.  (The County is in the process of reviewing WRIA 20 Draft Channel Migration Zone (CMZ) maps submitted to the County by the Washington State Department of Ecology that show the approximate extent of areas susceptible to channel migration along west-end rivers.)

Revised Schedule:

·       Projected Release Date/Availability of Revised Draft (July 2013) SMP:  July 31, 2013.

·       Initial Presentation of Revised Draft (July 2013) SMP to Clallam County Planning Commission:  Targeted for August 7, 2013, at the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 East Fourth Street, Port Angeles, WA, 6:30 p.m.

·       Public Comment Period on Revised Draft SMP:  There will be a minimum 60-Day Public Review Period on the Revised Draft SMP once made available to the public.  

·       Public Workshops and Hearing:  Regional public workshops and Planning Commission public hearings will be scheduled.      

·       Recommendation to the Board of Clallam County Commissioners (BOCC):  After the public hearing process and public comment consideration, the Planning Commission will deliberate and make a recommendation to the BOCC on an updated SMP.  This recommendation is anticipated to occur fall/winter of 2013.

·       Board of Clallam County Commissioners (BOCC) Review and Action:  The BOCC will schedule and hold public hearing(s) on the Draft SMP recommended by the Planning Commission.  The BOCC review is anticipated to commence in late-2013 or early 2014.

·       County Submittal to Washington State Department of Ecology for Approval:  Following BOCC adoption, the County will submit the adopted SMP to the State for approval.

Smp update web Page

Clallam County maintains an SMP Update Web Page on the Internet.  The SMP web pages contain the latest drafts of the SMP update and supporting update documents (e.g., Shoreline Inventory and Characterization Report).  It also contains public comments received, announcements of upcoming SMP presentations, ability to submit comments electronically, and other information.  Once completed, the pending Revised Draft SMP will be downloadable from the SMP Update Web Page at the address below

The direct link to the Clallam County SMP Update Web Page is:  http://www.clallam.net/LandUse/SMP.html

Whidbey landslide: ‘Where I had been standing was no longer there’ – Seattle Times and various

UPDATE: Deparment of Natural Resources Blog describes the slide, both in scientific and layman’s terms. Good read:
http://washingtondnr.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/whidbey-island-coupeville-landslide/

Thanks to Joe Breskin for forwarding me the link.

During the last ten years, many people here in Jefferson and Clallam County have struggled to craft an updated set of rules to help protect homeowners, ourselves and the environment around us. Part of that job was to set limits on development, which included buffers around dangerous places or those that we want to protect from exploitation. Some of those included buffers from development along shorelines. These teams of people decided, after long debate, to expand those buffers, because of newer science. As the public found out about them, the meetings where these new rules were brought for debate, were filled with angry people. Many shouted that who were these people to decide if they could or couldn’t build in a certain place.

Yesterday, nature gave a lesson to all of us on bluff ecology. And perhaps now we can silence the critics that say that we should not put large buffers around shorelines. For many on Whidbey, their lives will never be same, as apparently there is no insurance for this kind of thing happening to your home. Luckily for some, it was their vacation home. For others, it likely represented the bulk of their wealth, perhaps money they were hoping would help them in their old age. Many of the homes did not look like mansions but smaller places like in a subdivision of the 70s.

The positive part of this, is that bluff erosion is a pretty well known science now, and it explains shoreline buildup along certain places, such as the beaches at the Port Townsend Fort Worden lighthouse. The sluffing bluffs replenish sand and dirt into the Sound. By doing a little Google Search (Or Bing if you are so inclined) you can find out more.

Looking at the aerial shots, it’s clear that the people living on these bluffs chose to plant grass, rather than native plants. Also you can see black pipes used to drain water off the slope. These are the kind of things that add weight and water to the slope, and can actually help cause the very thing that people are trying to avoid.

There is no “blame” in this situation. The Counties are usually doing a much better job of buffer setting these days, and most of these kinds of houses are grandfathered. The hope is that the bank won’t sluff. However it was clear that these homeowners might have benefited from better education on the issue, as it is easy to see the grass lawns that extend out to the bluff edge. This is not a recommended idea, and can actually make the situation worse as grass retains water, needs more water (that can overload the bluff) and also often gets lawn poisons put on it that end up in the water below, killing fish. These days, the recommendation is to plant native plants that live on bluff edges, and that need less water.

Here in Jefferson County, if you live on a bluff, and want to find out what the *right* way to plant to avoid this kind of debacle (and even then, you might not, as an earthquake triggered sluff of the bank could be greater than any prevention), you can go to the newly installed County Watershed Stewardship Resource Center, and get educational information on issues such as this. Check out their website.
http://www.co.jefferson.wa.us/commdevelopment/WSRC.htm

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It is a part of the Puget Sound geology, a legacy of the glacier that formed this area: Massive chunks of shoreline hillsides just slide off. Early Wednesday morning, just such a 1000-foot-wide swath fell off in the Ledgewood Beach development on the west side of this island. The slide was so powerful, it pushed one home at the bottom of the cliff some 200 feet out into the water, said Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue Chief Ed Hartin, and it took out 300 to 400 feet of Driftwood Way, the road that led to the shoreline. Erik Lacitis reports.

Whidbey landslide: ‘Where I had been standing was no longer there’

http://www.king5.com/news/local/35-homes-evacuated-near-Whidbey-Island-landslide-200419841.html

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020655560_whidbeylandslidexmlxml.html

An open letter to our State Representatives and Senator – Regarding the Jefferson County SMP

Over the last six years, dozens of individuals have worked on updating the Shoreline Master Program, as required by the State Department of Ecology. I was a member of the group of citizens who volunteered hundreds of hours of my time to help craft it.

The document was approved by the County Planners and also approved by the Planning Committee and the unanimous approval of the County Commissioners.

There was one issue that was a sticking point, in that the County chose to ban Net Pen Aquaculture in county waters. To be clear, there are no net pens currently in Jefferson County, and the last ones were removed decades ago, because they were failures.

The Department of Ecology allowed the banning of net pens in Whatcom County’s SMP.

Now, the DOE is saying that we cannot ban net pens in Jefferson County.

There is good scientific evidence that net pens negatively impact native salmon, by becoming a ‘vector’ for infections and infestations of parasites, such as sea lice. If you want to know more, simply listen to this audio podcast I recorded last month when Dr. Lawrence Dill came to Port Angeles. http://soundcloud.com/mountainstone/dr-lawrence-dill-netpens. The link to his slides and video of him presenting is listed to the left of this column.

Our banning of net pens can be looked on as temporary, as future updates to the SMP, can reverse this if science is shown to be able to properly manage the threat. Also, there is new technology that could see net pens put near the shore, or “upland” and not be directly in the water. We all look forward to that technology being proven workable.

The State of Washington, and our Federal Government, is spending hundreds of millions of dollars over decades to protect and restore the native salmon to our waters. It seems totally out of step that the Department of Ecology, that is chartered with defending our environment, should essentially tell our local officials, after all this work, that if we do not approve the SMP with net pens allowed, that they will withdraw our work and rewrite the SMP themselves as they see fit.

This seems to be the kind of behavior we would expect if officials had some kind of stake in the outcome. It is not indicative of the organization or the man who is chartered with protecting our environment. I am sure that’s not the case, but this is an election year. And appearances are everything.

That said, I am calling for the removal by the Governor of Mr.Ted Sturdevant, the Ecology Director. His actions have gone against the years of work of informed citizen volunteers, against the work done by elected county officials of Jefferson County and against the ecology of the Sound that he is chartered with protecting.

I hope you join me and phone or email your support of this letter to the Governor’s office, and our elected officials, Representative Van De Wege, Representative Tharinger and Senator Hargrove. Their contacts are found to the left side of this page, under Governmental Sites, near the bottom of the list. Linda Barnfather is currently handling both Tharinger and Van De Wege administrative assistant duties, so one email or call to her will handle both of them

State Supreme Court affirms Ecology approval authority for shoreline master programs

As assumed, the SMP process is legal. The lawyer that convinced these guys to do take this case forward must have been laughing to the bank. A cursory read of the laws that the SMP is based on clearly shows what the court *unanimously* affirmed. Their argument about tax law shows how little they understood of the process or perhaps that they were willing to pay a lawyer to grasp at straws.
___________________________________________________

State Supreme Court affirms Ecology approval authority for shoreline master programs

OLYMPIA – The Washington Supreme Court has unanimously affirmed that the state, not local governments, has final approval authority for shoreline management plans and regulations.

The case was brought before the high court by Citizens for Rational Shoreline Planning, Ronald Jepson and the Building Industry Association of Whatcom County against the Department of Ecology (Ecology) and Whatcom County.

The lawsuit was an attempt to broadly invalidate key protections in Whatcom County’s state-approved shoreline planning and development regulations, also called a shoreline master program. Ecology approved the county’s shoreline program in 2008.

The plaintiffs asserted that because Whatcom County had developed its proposed shoreline master program at the local level, final approval of the county’s updated shoreline program was a local decision.

They claimed some of the requirements in Whatcom County’s shoreline program would violate state tax law generally prohibiting local governments from imposing certain taxes or fees in exchange for development rights.

The 1972 voter-approved Shoreline Management Act was passed to help minimize environmental damage to shoreline areas, reserve appropriate areas for water-oriented uses, and protect the public’s right to public lands and waters.

“The court’s decision clarifies that the collaborative process Ecology and local governments use to manage our shoreline areas is fair, transparent and flexible,” said Ecology Deputy Director Polly Zehm. “We all have a stake in protecting our treasured shoreline resources for ourselves as well as our children and future generations. Our shorelines make Washington a great place to live.”

Under the law, local governments and Ecology work cooperatively on shoreline master programs.

The Shoreline Management Act gives local governments flexibility to tailor their shoreline programs to help respond to local conditions and needs – while fulfilling the statewide vision for shoreline development, protection and uses.

However, the court’s decision recognizes that under state law Ecology is charged with final review and approval authority to ensure each shoreline master program meets state law.

Ecology must also ensure that state requirements negotiated in 2003 among 58 different parties including business interests, ports, environmental groups, shoreline user groups and local governments are being met.

Once Ecology approves a local shoreline master program, the department will help defend the decision against legal challenges.

The plaintiffs’ case had previously been dismissed by the Skagit County Superior Court which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court decision affirmed the appellate court.

News on PA Draft Shoreline Master Plan – PDN

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3/18 Peninsula Daily News
Draft Port Angeles Shoreline Master Program plan includes new edicts
By Paige Dickerson
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Planning for restoration and creating more detailed descriptions for what is allowable on the Port Angeles shoreline have dominated the proposed changes to the city’s Shoreline Master Program.

The draft of the document, a proposed update of the 2003 version of the program, adds a chapter outlining restoration plans for the shoreline, which is a new requirement of the state Department of Ecology.

A major new state requirement is that development cause no “net loss of ecological function” of the shoreline.

More at
http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20110318/NEWS/303189989/draft-port-angeles-shoreline-master-program-plan-includes-new-edicts

State Ecology OKs most of Jefferson County shoreline plan – PDN

2/2 Peninsula Daily News
State Ecology OKs most of Jefferson County shoreline plan
By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The state Department of Ecology has issued conditional approval of Jefferson County’s updated shoreline master program — taking issue with the plan’s flexible buffer zones, its ban on net-pen aquaculture and its direction for dock length.

In Tuesday’s announcement, Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant called the county’s work a “landmark effort” affecting more than 500 miles of shorelines.

Ecology’s response to the plan — called an SMP — that commissioners approved in 2009 will be discussed at the next meeting of the three Jefferson County commissioners at 9 a.m. Monday in their chambers at the Jefferson County Courthouse at 1820 Jefferson St., Port Townsend.

More at
http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20110202/news/302029981/state-ecology-oks-most-of-jefferson-county-shoreline-plan

See also 2/2 Peninsula Daily News
Clallam County shoreline update draws fears, criticism; commissioner defends efforts
http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20110202/news/302029993/clallam-county-shoreline-update-draws-fears-criticism-commissioner

Lots of heat on the SMP buffers in the Leader this week!

Boy, you’d think the Leader is trying to compete with this web site given the articles on the SMP, Black Point, Hastings Street Project, and others this week. Out of all the issues raised, the editorial by Fred Obee questioning the 150′ buffers raised in the SMP is an example of an idea that should have been discussed ages ago. Fred’s late entry into this issue requires a bit of comment. As some of you may know, I was one of about 20 or so people on the citizen’s policy advisory group in the early going of the SMP. Additionally, there was an additional 20 people on a technical advisory committee that ran in parallel to us, looking at issues that the scientists and professional policy makers in this project handle. These 40 or so people were primarily volunteers, people from all the different groups, real estate agents, home builders, geoduck farm owners, shoreline owners, a citizen at large, a representative of a shoreline environmental group, and more. Add to that the professional scientists that were paid as part of their jobs to be there and give guidance, and I think you have an good cross section, of the community and people who study the shore. I have the emails that were used by our committees to plan on discussing the buffers issue if anyone would like to see the kind of detail we went into on this issue.

Fred argues that we should have customized buffers for various projects and their needs. If only we had the money to do such a thing! While Fred’s idea is an ideal world, the real world of protecting the shoreline is one that needs to have a broader brush applied if we are not going to drive the costs even higher than they are. During a economic downturn, our county department of community development is already strapped to simply stay open, and laying off workers. During the economic boom, our regressive property tax system assures that values don’t keep in step with the actual property values, so we don’t collect enough taxes to actually staff the group appropriately for that boom time. I’m just now getting a huge increase in my property taxes, at a time when the value of my property, if I choose to sell it, is plunging. So getting appropriate, timely funding of DCD is always a problem.

Fred’s idea also doesn’t take into consideration what happens when ownership changes hands. The property owner today may be great on environmental protection, but the person who buys his land and trashes it next won’t be. That isn’t fantasy. There has been a number of streams, like Little Goose Creek, that have had problems with ownership changes that led to destruction of habitat and salmon runs in the county.

Which brings me to another issue, which is the lax enforcement, and even adversity to enforcement, shown by DCD. To assume that DCD will enforce these rules, given past behavior, is very optimistic, from my experience. This county generally works on a go along, get along basis, like lots of rural counties around the country. It is what it is. Heck, I’m a supporter of DCD and still think that this probably has to change to protect the shoreline from people who will manipulate the rules for their own ends.

If we want to do something that would really make things better for the folks of Jefferson county, it would be to rewrite the processes that DCD uses to streamline project approval. In the act, we could redo the web site to make it vastly more easy for citizens to understand what they can or can’t do, or need to appeal for the ability to do, and who they need to interact with. There are numerous excellent software packages that can be customized at relatively low price to accomplish this kind of process improvement. And new web site software that can accomplish this is usually very low priced and easy to use by non technical people. While the DCD SMP web site is comprehensive, it is very frustrating to use, and is a hodgepodge of versions, without a clear understanding of how to find what you are looking for.

Add to that the issue that we don’t particularly want to drive costs even higher for people trying to get a home built (which custom approvals would require), and the reality that shorelines fall into one of a few types of categories (bluffs for example, feed the raw materials that become sand washed up on beaches ‘downstream’), and I agree with the scientists that we don’t need to have an infinite set of beach criteria for making an assessment. Freedom from choices seems to be what most citizens want in their permitting process.

Yes Fred, it would be great if we could have infinitely tunable buffers, based on the best wishes of all, and real enforcement at the time of the infraction for those that don’t. Unfortunately, we have neither the money, nor the inclination in this county to do both. Let’s go with the best available science we have now, which is how we chose the buffers of the past, and get this done.

SMP in The Leader

Here’s the Leader’s more journalistic take on the meeting the other night.

9/9/09 Port Townsend Leader
Shoreline Master Program draws waves of comments; buffers continue to be major issue
By Allison Arthur of The Leader

More than 100 people packed into the Jefferson County Superior Courtroom to tell commissioners what they think of revisions to the plan supported by the planning commission and proposed changes recommended by county planners.

County commissioners listened to more than two hours of testimony and took no action Tuesday night. Commissioners are expected to act on the SMP by the end of October.

Although one man led off the meeting voicing support for the Department of Community Development (DCD) staff report that recommends buffers of 150 feet along all shorelines in Jefferson County, a majority of speakers took DCD to task, questioning why planners would throw out months of work of the volunteer planning commission.

More at
http://ptleader.com/main.asp?SectionID=4&SubSectionID=4&ArticleID=25131&TM=36724.2

SMP again…now onto the BOCC

A relatively large crowd (100?)  packed the Jefferson County Courthouse to testify to the BOCC (Board of County Commissioners) on the Jefferson County Shoreline Master Program.  A quick tally seemed to show that tonight, as opposed to the last meeting for the Planning Commission, (PC), that the opponents were in greater numbers than the proponents. When I say opponents, that is a lose term, meaning that some folks outright oppose the entire new update, some oppose the way the update was created, some opposed the the science, some opposed specific issues within it (such as it’s handling  or lack of handling) of the shellfish industry, mining, or other issues. I suppose that almost anyone could end up being somewhat opposed to the SMP update given that criteria, because in our ever polarized world, it’s very hard to add any regulations without significantly getting someone upset.

Now the Planning Commission gets it, along with what was claimed by one supposed lawyer, to be an illegal draft from the Department of Community Development staff, opposing some of the content of the Planning Commission draft (even DCD is in opposition!). Having been on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee back in the dawn of time when the SMP update was crafted, and not being a lawyer, I can say that it is (and was) very difficult to understand legally exactly what needed to be crafted, other than in very general terms. That was supposed to be the job of the consultants, based on their experience, and I’m ok with that, but some folks weren’t.

I agree that the SMP is too hard to comprehend for an average citizen, but then, what legal document isn’t? They need to continue to summarize the points, especially the ones for homeowners, since they are the least likely to read it all. Making it shorter isn’t an option, as it has to cover the legal framework for a wide assortment of uses.

So what is the actual legal requirements from here on in? What can be changed? What can’t?  And what then? We’ll continue to cover this for you, even though I need a stiff drink after coming back from listening to the lies, damn lies, and statistics, presented by folks who should know better. The Fox News crowd is really up and at em, making it seem like a Commie Plot, or at least a Socialist one. Hmmm. I’ve been to socialist leaning countries, like Norway, Sweden, England, France, Italy etc…and they certainly seemed like a happy lot! Even had ‘free’ health care thrown into their communities for their tax dollars (or I guess it’s Euro’s or Kroners).

It’s sort of funny to hear people who prior to this update opposed even 50′ buffers around shorelines, arguing now in favor of them, when newer science calls for larger buffers to protect the habitat.

Additionally, much to my surprise, my previous testimony showing a photo from the early part of the 1900′s with a supposedly 100 lb. King caught off Swiftsure Banks was called an outright lie, by one angry ‘anti’ person. Luckily I had a few minutes to refute my photo, when I ended my testimony early. My answer to the question of “is it real?” is that a quick search of the Internet (thankfully I had my iPhone with me!), seems to show that record keeping of largest individual non-sport fish appears to only go back to 1960 (salmon derbies started around 1930, so some sport fish records were kept back then). Before that the state apparently only kept records of the entire harvest.

Some background to that harvest is worth considering when wondering about whether a 100lb Chinook could have been caught here.  According to some historical data refered to in the Independent: http://www.independent.org/publications/article.asp?id=2453 and an article on the history of the fishery by Robert Higgs…

Then, in the mid-1890s, it (the Puget Sound cannery business) began to grow explosively: from 90,000 cases in 1893, the pack increased to 180,000 cases in 1895 to 494,000 cases in 1897, and to 1,381,000 cases in 1901 (Cobb, 1930, p. 557).Cobb, John N. (1930). Pacific Salmon Fisheries. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce. Bureau of Fisheries, Doc, No, 1092.

Puget Sound canneries experienced their golden age between the turn of the century and 1919, the peak year being 1913, when 2,583,000 cases were packed.

Since I’ve been told that the mid teens  harvests were the largest on record, according to State D.F.W, and that upwards of a million fish were processed in one day on a Lopez Island cannery, many having to be wasted because of the inability to process that many (according to a local paper, which is hard to corroborate and probably exaggerated; I seem to find that about 170k sockeye were taken by canneries in San Juans  in 1917 and a reference to a million fish processed in the entire year of 1901 in Richardson).

The Washington State sport record is 70.50 lbs, caught by Chet Gausta, at Sekiu, September 6, 1964 (the records, once again, apparently only going back to 1960, besides unavailable records from salmon derbies I can’t seem to find), and that the largest recorded sports salmon taken on rod and reel was off the Kenai Penninsula in May of 1985, weighing in at 97 lbs(!!), I can only assume that, prior to our plunder of the fish, and pillage of the land, there very likely was a very real photo that I had of a 100lb (or thereabout) fish off Swiftsure Banks.  I welcome anyone to prove me wrong, and I’ll gladly print it here!  The comment missed my point though, in that the work we all are doing to protect the salmon stocks by protecting the habitat, is to try and restore historically great runs of big fish. Most people, like this shouting guy, just refuse to believe that we even actually had such a fishery that produced massive fish. My friend Jerry Gorsline points to this ever moving baseline as one that the regulators themselves sometimes manipulate.

Most of those old time fishermen seemed to be  hard working folks who could care less about whether a fish was the largest one or not, and the guy who I have a photo of probably just thought it was bigger than the rest, weighed it, and had a friend take a photo of it. The captain of the boat probably was mad he stopped to get the photo taken. He looked like he was ready to go back to work and then have a stiff drink in Ballard after he got back!

Come out to support the SMP…Again!

Yes, another month, another shoreline master program meeting. Now the document has been handed to the BOCC (Board of County Commissioners), who want public comment on it until September 8th. They then hold a public hearing on the 8th. We are asking that you provide a letter/email/or come in person and give your input. There are several key elements, all outlined elsewhere, but most importantly, we support the changes that the staff has asked for in the Staff Recommendations Draft, with the addition of banning all mining activities on the shoreline and near shore.You can read the whole response by People For Puget Sound by downloading the document listed on the SMP page link above.

Jefferson County SMP update – new info

The Jefferson County Department of Community Development has weighed in with their recommendations to the County Commissioners on the draft SMP update from the Planning Commission’s modified SMP. As you may recall, after the DCD and assorted scientific and citizen’s advisory committees met over the last three years and drafted a decent start to the SMP, enforcing solid environmental regulations that could protect our shorelines better, the Planning Commission, headed by an owner of an geoduck farm, made major modifications to the document, including gutting it of conditional permitting of aquaculture. The DCD staff, has made a series of recommendations, (document available from the http://www.co.jefferson.wa.us/commdevelopment/Shoreline_DCDStaffRec.htm ), and we like what we see.  They call for reinstituting the conditional permitting on aquaculture, prohibit net pen fish farming, request reinstating the 150′ buffer and ask to restore the 10′ mininum setup for building on shorelines. These were all things recommended by science and the majority of citizen’s advisory committees. As the amount of actual lots that will be affected by this is small, and many workarounds exist, both for existing structures and new construction, we support these changes.  We hope you will come out on September 8th to the next county commissioners meeting and show your support by testifying in support of these staff requests for changes.

Final Draft Jefferson County SMP available

The Planning Commission has finished their work on their Draft SMP, and now the document is heading into the next round, which is to be edited by the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), and seek the next round of comments from the public by Sept 8th. This deeply flawed document, compromised at many environmental levels by members of the planning committee who have vested economic interests in the outcome (both aquaculture and supposed “environmental” supporting  homeowners on the shoreline), is neither fish nor fowl. Much of the work done by the able staffers, consultants, STAC and SPAC volunteers has been diluted beyond worth. There will be little positive outcome to the environment from this document, only more of the same destruction of habitat and wildlife. Add to that the fact that the county does little if nothing in the way of enforcement, and my only reaction is, let’s pass it since this is as good as well get from this group of commissioners, and see whether the Board of County Commissioners,  or Ecology, will help modify this document to actually get protections in for the environment. Thanks to Jill Silver and others for helping me focus some of my earlier comments on this post so that my intent was more clear.

Update: 8/6/2009 – This thread and the comments that followed it publication, were made all the more relevent to me tonight. My wife and I saw ‘Food Inc’.  I think it’s enormously important that commissioners, and citizens who are concerned about the environmental (and legal) effects of large scale agribusiness, see this film. While only some kinds of aquaculture (fish farming comes to mind)  are starting to resemble the land based food delivery systems documented in this film, the chilling impacts of the corporations on the debate is an all too familar chorus to the comments that follow this article.
The Planning Commission Final Draft SMP Recommendation is now available:
· Online – http://www.co.jefferson.wa.us/commdevelopment/Shoreline_PCFinalDraft.htm

· Review Copy – At our DCD Front Desk, County Library & Bookmobile, Clallam Library in Forks

· Hard Copy – Pick-up at our DCD Front Desk

· Digital Copy available upon request


DCD will submit a final staff recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners on August 17.  The Board will open public comment on the PC Final Draft SMP August 19 and a public hearing will close public comment on September 8.

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